Tag Archives: Esta Doutrich

Writing is Just Hard

Uggghhhhhh writing is so haaaaaaaarrrrrrd.

Why? Shouldn’t it be easy, so long as you learned how to type in high school? Just put your fingers on the keys, and, “beep beep boop!” Transfer your thoughts to the electronic equivalent of paper.

Right? I mean, come on, fingers. You haven’t posted in a month and a half. Do your thing.

My friend Esta recently read two books about writing, Bird by Bird by Anne Lamott, and On Writing by Stephen King.

“I love On Writing!” I told her, sipping tea in her living room while her toddler napped, a fan whirring to muffle our voices. “I started Bird by Bird and didn’t finish it.”

“See, you’re like Justin,” she said referencing her husband. “He also liked On Writing but not Bird by Bird. Anne Lamott is always second-guessing herself, and writing is so difficult and painful for her, and Justin just had a really hard time getting through it. But I told him he has to read it to understand how I think as a writer.”

I was actually really surprised to hear that writing was so hard for her. Listening to her talk about the painful dramatic tug-of-war in her head made me think, “wow, writing comes easy for me.”

But it doesn’t. I mean, it does when I write in my diary, it does when I’m inspired and feel like writing, but the easy writing is never enough to turn me into the type of writer I want to be.

I read On Writing in a Journalism class, and loved the humor and practicality, even though Stephen King is not an author I would normally read. I think this is because I have a very practical approach to writing, one that is more stereotypically male than female. So when it comes to things like “writer’s block,” I always think there must be a practical solution.

Like, “Outline more.”

Or, “Make yourself write for an hour each day.”

Or, “trick yourself into doing it.” That was the solution I came up with today, powering off my iphone and telling myself that it’s staying off until I post a post.

But that doesn’t change the fact that writing is just hard.

The other day I inexplicably found myself alone in the house. In the morning, no less. Mom rushed out the door and left a steaming pot of tea behind, and I sat at the table and gazed across the brilliantly green fields and felt like writing.

So I got out a story that I should have finished months ago, but for some ridiculous reason I’ve been putting off for FOREVER. I opened the notebook, set my pretty tea cup on top of it, and snapped a picture for Instagram.

Yeah…so much for diving into the writing.


I realized, after I posted it, that this is more of a universal struggle than I thought it was.

I asked Mom, “why is writing so hard?”

“Because,” she said, “your thoughts are a jumbled mass of emotion, visual, impressions, whatever. They’re not in orderly words and sentences in your head. So they have to be squeeeeeeezed through this cake-decorator tube that shapes them into words and sentences.”

The fact that she can articulate it that well shows that she has mastered the craft, in my opinion. But writing, for her, is still so, so difficult.

This is one of those posts where I want to hear your thoughts. Writing is hard. But why? What do you think?

10 Year Blogiversary


Today is my blogiversary. I have been blogging for 10 years.

10 years! That is a long time, especially in Internet years. Besides, it is a full 2/5ths of my life.

As I reflected back on that lazy Sunday afternoon when I decided I might as well start a blog, I tried to recall if anyone besides my mom has been reading my blog for all 10 of these years. I couldn’t go back to my old Xanga blog and check, because Xanga shut down. My memory would have to suffice.

I am fairly certain that Hans Mast commented on my very first blog post. And so, assuming that Hans Mast still reads my blog, he could very well be the person who has been reading my blog the longest (obviously not counting my immediate family members).

This prompted me to hand out some virtual awards to some of my most memorable readers. I am completely working off the top of my head here, so if I forget someone important I am very sorry.


The Longest Reader Award goes to Hans Mast!

Congratulations Hans Mast! (Pause for applause.)

Funny story about Hans. For years I “knew” him online, and imagined him to be an extremely confident outspoken person. Then, after I’d been blogging for several years, I met him in real life.

He wasn’t at all like his online persona. In real life he was much more nervous and soft-spoken. Which was fine, but it sent me into a whirlwind of introspection about how people are not necessarily like they are online. I also worried that people would meet me and I wouldn’t be what they expected.

So what did I do after musing on this? I blogged about it, of course.

Wouldn’t you know it, Hans Mast commented and said, “was I like you expected me to be?”

And I was so embarrassed and didn’t know what to say.

(Keep in mind that this was like, eight years ago. I think Hans Mast’s real personality and online personality match up much better now. Though come to think of it, I haven’t seen him in several years, so how would I know?)

The First Internet Friend Award goes to Hans Shenk and Vonda Esh!

Yes, I’m giving out two awards because I can’t remember which came first. Although I suspect Vonda was before Hans Shenk.

Anyway, I remember that both of these fine folks found a way to go beyond the simple “I blog, you comment” aspect of blogging and have real conversations with me.

Vonda and I talked about writing a lot, and she told me her favorite book was this book about a hermit. I cannot recall what the title of the book was, but a few months ago I became so curious that I tried to go back into the shreds that remain of my old Xanga blog and figure it out. That’s when I discovered that while I can still access my old posts, all the comments and messages are gone.

Hans Shenk would post comments on my blog that were full of giant words. I had to read them three times before I got what he was trying to say, and then I had to try and craft a reply that didn’t make me sound like an idiot in comparison. We had some very long conversations/arguments in the comments but for the life of me I can’t remember what they were about.

Interestingly enough, though I have kept in semi-contact with both, I have never met either in real life.

The First Internet Friend to Become Real Friend Award goes to Esta Doutrich.

Honestly I don’t know if this is quite accurate, because I certainly befriended people I met online before she came along. However, she was the first to become a really really close friend.

I think (Esta, you’ll have to correct me if I’m wrong) that she knew who I was because of my blog before we ever met. However, I didn’t know who she was until she began dating my friend Justin Doutrich. At that point I befriended her online, which blossomed into a wonderful rich friendship in real life.

The First Real Friend to Become Internet Friend award goes to Rachael Sloan!

Weird award, huh? The interesting thing about the internet is that it not only gives you a chance to make new friends, but it gives you a chance to stay connected with people you meet in real life, sometimes even becoming closer to them online than you ever were before.

I met Rachael when I went to Bridgewater College. I met a lot of people when I went to Bridgewater College, actually, and Rachael is the only one I still keep up with at all, mostly because of her interaction with this blog. Thank you for that, Rachael, it’s been awesome!

The Most Long-suffering Reader Award goes to Gabrielle Marcy.

I’m throwing this in there because several years ago I made a New Year’s resolution to put more effort into my blog, and appreciate my readers more. At that time, Gabrielle was my nicest most interactive reader, so I decided I was going to send her a gift. Nothing big, just a handwritten thank-you note I think. So I emailed her asking for her address and I don’t think I ever sent her anything.

That New Year’s resolution was kind of a failure all around.

I’m sorry Gabrielle! I really do appreciate you!

And finally, the Carry the Torch Award goes to Annie Durrett!

Applause! More applause!

I’m highlighting Annie because she reminds me of myself, trying to live creatively and have an interesting life while also having to deal with health issues. She turned to blogging as a creative outlet, which, of course, I think is a fantastic idea. Check out her blog here!

Oh boy. It’s 12: 20 AM, which means that it’s not technically my blogiversary anymore. Anyone else notice that my blog posts always go up extremely late at night? It’s like I’m incapable of posting during daylight hours.

Anyway. Not that it matters. We’ll just pretend it’s still July 17.

Thank You for That

Some people walk into your life and change it for the better, change YOU for the better, even though you never knew you needed them.

Esta Doutrich and Jenny Smucker are two people who have blessed me this way. Somehow I never knew how close their birthdays are; Jenny’s is today, and Esta’s was yesterday.

Today’s post is in honor of them.


Thank you for teaching me that it’s possible to be best friends with your sister despite nine years age difference.

Thank you for amazing me with your intellect and wit.

Thank you for your fashion advice.

Thank you for the impromptu sleepovers.

Thank you for bringing me kittens and books and tea and hugs when I’m feeling down.

Thank you for understanding my sense of humor.


Thank you for making an effort to befriend me even before we’d ever even met.

Thank you for listening and offering expert advice to all my problems, especially those pertaining to depression.

Thank you for getting what depression is like.

Thank you for your fun and funny personality that makes life so much more enjoyable of a place to live.

Thank you for the overflowing bounty of insight into the world you possess, due to your faith and your hunger for knowledge and your understanding of culture.

Jenny. Esta. You have now idea how much you’ve blessed me in life. I love you tremendously.

Happy Birthday.