When the Wolves Give Chase

Written by Charli Mills

Charli Mills, a born buckaroo, makes literary art accessible at CarrotRanch.com. She writes about the veteran spouse experience and women forgotten to history.

August 12, 2014

Tips for WritersMonday tips for writers is more personal today. I’m not yet ready to write about my revision process, although I’ve made great strides using the storyboard, comparative inner/outer story timelines and a checklist of edits. I remain in the thick of final edits, a boggy area ripe with self-doubt, panic and snarling wolves.

Writing is not easy. And I’m not talking about the mechanics of writing or the craft; I’m talking about the inner strength and the tough skin you need to be a writer. Some days are a glorious dance in the daisies, but most days are spent fleeing from the wolves.

We each have our own wolves, nipping at our heals. My wolves find me vulnerable when I feel that my value is tanking. Value to me has to do with this buckaroo ideal of “hard work.” To be valued, you have to work hard, get your hands dirty, calloused. Have something to show for your hard work.

This weekend the horse-owner showed up. Immediately I felt embarrassed because my garden is in disarray with neglect. Something I made a conscious choice to do, but how do I explain to “hard-working” folk that I’m sitting on my backside, writing instead. It’s also unseasonably hot and dry so my yard is crisp and gasping despite the weeding and watering I’ve been doing. He doesn’t say anything, but I think he’s displeased with how we are keeping the place.

My wolves are those negative thoughts that can chase me to despairing depths. Really, I can’t give you a logical explanation for when the wolves give chase other than I’m feeling vulnerable. And I find that I feel vulnerable more as a writer than at anything else I’ve ever done. I feel like I don’t have anything of value to show for my hard work.

I’m not alone in this vulnerability. Tonight, my heart broke a little as I read a post from one of my favorite online writers. She said she was a crappy blogger. Immediately my wolves joined hers and they wanted to hunt me down for being a crappy blogger, too because I could totally relate to everything she was expressing. After all, I didn’t even log in on my blog for two entire days. I didn’t post or read all the #MondayBlogs.

Instead, I commented with something I learned from dog mushers. That if you’re going to panic, panic forward. It reminded me that we all feel vulnerable, lacking and afraid we aren’t posting, writing or revising up to snuff. We aren’t working hard enough at it.

Today, comedic actor Robin Williams apparently committed suicide. That breaks my heart even more. It also sends me in full blown panic: For the love of camp-coffee, if a successful creative still feels chased down by the wolves of negative thinking, what hope is there for me? Those wolves are vicious.

Thus we come to the importance of writer-care. It’s a little like self-care. Instead of beating myself up for not having obvious outcomes for the hard work, I’m challenging myself to rethink, to take care of my writer-self.

I’m working on my own masters. I’m learning an entire industry–actually two if you recognize that traditional publishing is different from Indie publishing. No one cracks the whip or sets the bar. I’m self-motivated to write, disciplined to learn and caring enough to share in the process with others. I don’t have to prove anything to anyone.

I’m trying to recognize the wolves before they get too close. It doesn’t matter who you are, negative thinking or wrong-headedness creates a downward spiral. Challenge each other to notice what each is good at and don’t dwell on what we aren’t. Let’s tackle our weaknesses with the enthusiasm of learning.

And please, oh please…if you ever get so low in your despair, reach out of the mire! Talk to someone, have a list of people that you can call at any time and find something to get you out of the wolves’ den. If you go too far, there is help:

  1. Suicide Prevention Lifeline in the USA & Canada (1-800-273-8255)
  2. Lifeline Crisis Support Suicide Prevention AU (13 11 14)
  3. Samaritans Ireland (116 123) or Northern Ireland (08457 90 90 90)
  4. Samaritans Wales (08457 90 90 90)
  5. Samaritans Scotland (08457 90 90 90)
  6. Papyrus Prevention of Young Suicide UK (0800 068 41 41)

You matter. Your writing matters. Your creativity matters.

None of this, of course, is going to make writing any easier. Just commit to keeping check on the wolves from time to time. If you need a break, take one. If you let something go unattended to do something else, acknowledge the choice and don’t feel that you have to explain yourself to some cowboy who will never understand what it is to write anyways.

Remember this line from Song of Myself by Walt Whitman:

“I do not trouble my spirit to vindicate itself or be understood”

And I leave you with this fabulous bit of truth about writing not being easy by Sarah Brentyn.

Quote by Sarah Brentyn

So be kind to those who create; lift up and do not tear down; take a break without guilt; write with abandon and don’t ever let anyone rob you of your value as a writer. You are enough. Make the best of your gift.

And Rest in Peace, Robin Williams. May we follow in your light and learn from your darkness.

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  1. Annecdotist

    Charli, I’m glad you managed to keep the wolves at sufficient distance to write this moving, honest and intelligent post. I totally agree that self-care is so important for writers but it can sometimes be difficult to build it in to our routines. It can feel as if we shouldn’t feel bad about it – after all, we’re doing the thing we believe in, something we enjoy. But, as you say, it is hard, and I love Sarah’s quote which I hadn’t seen before.
    I think for many of us it’s especially difficult as the writing comes from a place of vulnerability and sometimes the only way we know of dealing with that is to work hard and work harder, which can really grind us down. The news about Robbie Williams reminds me of a time when the director of an adolescent mental health unit where a friend was working committed suicide. Obviously all the staff and patients were stunned and baffled by this, but it can be especially hard for high achievers to reach out to others for support when things aren’t going well.
    When the wolves close in small hurts get magnified and it can be hard to see beyond them to the strengths and assets that we have for fighting back. It’s often when we most need support that its most difficult to ask for it. So I’m glad you’ve remembered your writing strengths. You have a beautiful way with words and are a great support to other writers, and you’ve built up a fantastic community of rough writers. All that takes hard work and it can feel scary to take a break from it for fear of it crumbling but I’m pretty sure it wouldn’t if you let it slide for a while.
    I’m sending you a virtual hug across the multi-verse, with a bowl of popcorn alongside.
    I know it’s not exactly writers’ block you’re experiencing but I’m linking to a post I did last year on that theme because it acknowledges how we can also hate the writing we love:

    • Charli Mills

      There seems to be a threshold–perhaps a multi-verse–that if crossed, the wolves seem more real than anything else. And, yes, when crossed I think it is so hard for people to ask for the help they need or even to recognize the danger zone. For me, I try to be wary of approaching the danger zone. But I don’t know how to do that for others or even recognize it in others. So, I thought if I was open about how I feel when the wolves nip, it might make someone pause and realize that these feelings are real and other people go through it too. When someone like Robin Williams or the mental health professional actually succumbs to suicide, it is a shock, but a danger, too. There were a few student suicides when my children were going to school and I recall how chilled I felt when the teams that came to their school in support related to parents that such incidents often triggered other suicides. You’d think it would do the opposite. I just know how tough it is to write–and yes we do often feel vulnerable just for committing to self-expression–so a group hug in muddy pajamas is in order. Popcorn is a bonus!

      In a way, I think this is how writer’s block occurs. In fact, writer’s block might be the suicide of the writer-self (or would that make us murderers?). Either way, it is as you write so succinctly, “The thing that gave my life meaning is making me sick.” A fine line exists between joy and sorrow, heath and sickness, writing and blocked. Reading your post (and recognizing why it was a winning post!), it does ring true how negative thoughts can creep up on us so quickly–one moment you’re blissfully editing commas and the next you feel your entire work is cold custard. This is such good advice, Anne:

      “When a mother’s bogged down by hatred, she needs to acknowledge it so she can pass the baby to someone else and reclaim some me-time. Likewise, when a writer’s blocked, she needs to take stock of her emotions to safeguard herself and her craft.”

      It is healthy to acknowledge that hate is a real emotion. But left unchecked, it can become a cycle of self-loathing, not just of the book, but of the writer.

      Thank you for your kind and thoughtful response, and for the virtual multi-verse hug. It reminds us that we cannot be as Simon and Garfunkle sang:

      “I have my books
      And my poetry to protect me
      I am shielded in my armor
      Hiding in my room
      Safe within my womb
      I touch no one and no one touches me
      I am a rock
      I am an island

      And a rock feels no pain
      And an island never cries”

      Writers need community. Creatives need balance. And we need to remember the importance of self-care and to cry out before we turn to rock and pass into the point of no return.

      • Annecdotist

        Thanks, Charli, for your thoughtful response. I think strong emotions are most damaging to us when we fail to acknowledge them, perhaps because of the fear they’ll take us over. I like your point about writers’ block as the suicide/murder of the writerly self because our sense of disengagement isn’t an ordinary “I don’t fancy that at the moment” but more like a subdued murderous rage.
        The Simon and Garfunkel quote is so apt, bringing up-to-date John Donne’s poem. Thank you for building such a lovely online community linking together our separate islands.

      • Charli Mills

        That makes me think perhaps fiction is a filter–a way to deal with strong emotions without getting swept away by them. After all, it’s some character I’m penning, not me…More food for thought as we digest these lovely essay-comments. Thank you for linking up your island! It is a lovely online community. (But no Care Bears.) 😀

  2. Sherri

    Dear Charli,

    Reading your post upon my return I am struck to reply that those very same wolves are baying for my blood too. The pack is on the loose it seems. We had a lovely week away for the rest and the break and I have posted some photos but each day goes by and I am questioning so much about my blogging, my writing, my everything. And I thought I would return raring to go…what happened? I don’t think I’ve ever read a more ‘perfect’ quote about the harsh reality of writing than the one you’ve shared here by Sarah Brentyn. And how do we explain to others when everything else around us seems neglected and untended that we have been busy writing? What, just sitting around on our backsides playing at writer? I feel the same about your post as you did about your blogger friend’s – nodding my head to all you say and understanding completely. We seem to have nothing to show for all our hard work even though we know we’ve worked bloody hard…

    Feeling so sorry that you are going through this difficult time and just wanting to send you a huge hug…in muddy, wet pj’s and all…and to tell you that you are most definitely not a crappy blogger, writer, or crappy anything. You give great advice here, and I know I’m not the only one who takes great encouragement from your reminder to take care of ourselves, not to let the wolves bring us down and ultimately, that ‘we matter, our writing matters, our creativity matters’. So often I feel that it matters not one iota…

    I awoke this morning to a message on FB from a friend about Robin Williams, yet to see the news but a shocker indeed. One of my areas of struggle right now, ironically, are due to my serious concerns for my daughter and her future as she is going through a tough time right now. She loved Robin Williams as a fellow ‘aspie’ and she will be greatly saddened by this news. You have done a wonderful thing by providing the links and telephone numbers. You just never know who might be reading this and who will take note and so a life is helped, saved even. There is nothing worse than thinking we are alone and without hope.

    So we keep on keeping on…and darn, I really wish I had roped a rattlesnake or two, just to show ’em whose boss…

    Huge hugs Charli … <3

    • Charli Mills

      Welcome back to the world of writing, Sherri! I thought of you when my cousin texted me a photo of the rattlesnake she killed outside her doorstep. She lives on a ranch in eastern Montana and they get HUGE out that way. It was over 2 feet long!

      Sounds as if we are wandering about in our muddy pjs. When I wake up and think–THIS is what I’ve always wanted to do, I can get going in a good direction. But so often it seems, my focus veers to what I’m not doing and that feeling of “being behind.” That’s when I have to remind myself (like those rattlesnakes), I’m boss. And I can be a lenient boss. I can figure out a different solution. I can get it done–eventually. Why does it all have to be done now? And yes, I can acknowledge my hard work, and that of other writers without demanding proof. It’s a different standard and I resent it when the wolves have me in the kitchen jamming berries not because I love the activity but because I hate the guilt of seeing berries on the vine! Some days I just need to carry a writer’s wrench for all those mental self-adjustments!

      I’m so glad you took a break! Savor that time and ease back in because your writing is significant and it isn’t fragile. It will hold up! Thanks for the encouragement in return. I hope your daughter can overcome the pain of loosing someone she looked up to as a fellow “aspie.” That must make it all the more difficult. Take care over there and hugs in return!

      • Annecdotist

        Charli, I share your guilt at not managing to harvest/preserve of the garden produce but, don’t forget, it’s also nice to be able to leave some for the birds!

      • Charli Mills

        Great way to frame it, Anne! I’ve made the world a better place for birds!

      • Sherri

        Ahh…thanks so much Charli, it’s great to be back here on the Ranch. That’t hilarious about the rattlesnake…we just won’t be able to get away from them will we, haha 😉
        You are so right of course about us being our own boss and sometimes needing to make these mental adjustments…hasn’t anyone invented a writer’s wrench yet? Perhaps it already has, in the way we can acknowledge our hard work as you say, and not let anyone or anything – least of all those darn wolves – tell us otherwise or try to knock us down deeper into the mud. We have to make sure we keep loving what we are doing and keep doing it. You have really encouraged me Charli…I feel the old writing zest returning even as I type…and I hope you too are getting plenty of time to write freely without thinking about those berries…
        The break was good, but it is surprising how long it takes to get back into the swing of things. I will definitely take your advice, thank you. And thank you too for your kind words for my daughter…
        You take care too and see you soon… 🙂

      • Charli Mills

        Just as long as neither one of us step outside to a rattler! I suppose that would make headline news in the UK! My cousin also owns an old hotel in Miles City near their ranch and I’ve often thought it would make the perfect place for a writer’s conference or retreat. Roping rattlers could be optional!

        I’m so glad you find this exchange encouraging. I do, as well. It makes the writing flow without constraint. I lost electricity a few weeks back and it actually proved to be a great time for just writing. I’m using the storyboard for revisions and have a few additional scenes to write and as Anne said, berries go to the birds! Cheers to writing one step ahead of the wolves!

      • Sherri

        Oh wow! How I would love to come along for a writer’s retreat there! I think Roping Rattlers would make for a great ice-breaker and warm up 🙂 And as for making UK headlines, yes, and wouldn’t you know it, here is another snake story for you …couldn’t believe it but reading the national paper a few days ago after we got back only to see a photo of a corn snake slithering across an ATM machine which was in the town where my mum lives…what about that for a coincidence? The woman who went to get her money out had the shock of her life. Turned out it was someone’s pet that had escaped, was rescued and then returned to them safe and sound. Couldn’t make it up!! 😉
        Love that…’berries go to the birds!” Yes indeed…and they will enjoy every morsel, as we happily write and write and write…
        Your storyboard idea is wonderful and I’m so glad that you had such a great writing time. I hand-wrote a short story in France (no laptop for a week as you know) and I do think there is something so freeing about not having the distractions of technology from time to time (but not too often, as I would miss you and everyone else too much!).
        Take care Charli…not heard a wolf howl once today, yet.. 🙂

      • Charli Mills

        Depending on the time of year, my cousin might want us to come out to the ranch and break ice on the water troughs–how’s that for an ice-breaker? Ha, ha! Her husband is a great big giant of a cowboy with a sense of humor to match and he’d be willing to lead a Roping Rattlers activity for us!

        That’s so funny (well, not for the lady who made the discovery)! Poor fella, he was probably trying to get some money out to get home! Yea, no wolves! Go write in the midst of that peace!

      • Sherri

        Now that would be some ice-breaker for sure!! I love the sound of the Roping Rattlers. Sign me up, woo hoo 🙂
        Haha…yes, that snake must have forgotten his card, poor guy 😉

      • Charli Mills

        Ha, ha! 😀

  3. TanGental

    It isn’t often I wake up, stretch and read such a jolt-inducing post as this, Charli. I read Sarah’s post too and the quote does ring a huge bell. And then Anne’s post on blocks. All clanging away in my head. We each of us have our demons over writing. The more time I seem to have the less I seem to get done. When I was a full time lawyer I squirrelled away the time to write, jealous using every inch, very droplet I could find to churn out my books. No I’ve put that behind me, I look at my keyboard and… my books have barely moved. I’m grinding towards publishing one but I know I could have done it a lot quicker. The lead seems to drag me back whenever I approach the next task. Thank you for putting my small woahs into context. I will take heart and put on my pjs.
    As you know, I’m a sport’s nut; you’re a bit of a one yourself. The recent success of British Cycling may have passed you by but it is an extraordinary story. The head of coaching at British cycling gets all the plaudits, naturally but one major factor has been the team psychologist Steve Peters. He has now worked with other teams incredibly successfully, making sure those with the talent express it under enormous pressure. He coined the expression ‘The Chimp paradox’ about how we need to get the monkey off our backs to fulfil our potential. Now its in a book and is not just sports applicable It may be of interest.http://www.amazon.co.uk/The-Chimp-Paradox-Management-Confidence/dp/009193558X

    • Charli Mills

      When I read Sarah’s post, it resonated so deeply that I told her I was going to quote her! Anne’s post on blocks is spot on, too. Like you, I used to get up super early just to have extra time in my day for writing. And I took at least one writing retreat or workshop a year. Now that I’m on full retreat, I have to be on guard for mood swings that I never thought would be a part of the writing process. It boils down to vulnerability for me–instead of squeaking in a few moments, it’s all writing, 24/7 and I feel I can fail so much grander than if I stayed dabbling!

      Back in school, I had a professor tell me that it was hardest for the high achievers to be happy because we would feel like frauds in the working world, as if our grades had been a fluke. Hanging out with other high achievers, I discovered, was so draining. I liked management because I could be encouraging instead of competitive. Then I learned the best competition is really for one’s own best, not to best another. Seems counter-intuitive, especially in sports, but my son takes that attitude as an elite runner. Runners in general seem to have that just because I found that they seemed more supportive of each other than say, gymnasts or football players.

      The Chimp Paradox–I like how it’s about “mind management.” Sometimes I think my mind needs remedial obedience training! But maybe it’s chimp expulsion I need…maybe the wolves give chase o eat the chimp on my back!

      Back to the pajamas and mud!

    • Charli Mills

      Thanks, Chris!

  4. Sarah Brentyn

    I laughed when I first saw that you quoted me. It was meant to be a humorous berating of my younger self. Then I read your post and how you had attached this quote to something much more serious. So, yes, you quoted me but you gave it a deeper meaning. This made me think about why, when I write, I only scratch the surface of my life when I could dig. Why I hide behind humor when I am heartbroken or full of rage. It held up a mirror and I didn’t like what I saw. The truth is this: I’m treading water at the moment. And this post hit a bit too close to home. (I’m trying to avoid adding a little quip here. Isn’t that funny?)

    No, you are not alone in this kind of vulnerability. Thank you for sharing my words. Thank you for sharing yours. You are such a positive person, Charli, always supportive and encouraging your fellow writers. You’re a good woman, Charli Brown. (<See? There. I did it. I can't help myself.)

    • Irene Waters 19 Writer Memoirist

      Sarah I loved your words and would just like to add as Anne said don’t go there until you are ready or as Charli said either fictionalise it or write it in third person – both help to give you a little bit of distance so the emotions the writing brings out are perhaps a little more bearable. I wrote about my first husband in my petmoir series. I have never spoken about him to anyone. Although it was superficial it was a start and the relief and opening of the flood gates helpful. I don’t know that I will go there again or any deeper but it was worth it for me. The other advantage I had here was distance. Thirty years was a long time so write it when you are ready. Humour is great. I love your flashes.

      • Sarah Brentyn

        I had never thought of writing my nonfiction in third person. That is brilliant. Also, I might have to give these things some time and distance. The superficial writing hasn’t bothered me too much until recently, Then this post… It just hit me. Humor is okay, I think, as long as you’re not using it to hide behind but, instead, as an outlet to deal with situations. Thank you, Irene.

      • Charli Mills

        I thought of that either. What we can learn from each other!

  5. Charli Mills

    Humor is a balm to our hurts and helps curb the rage. I’m always poking fun at something, finding humor in the most inappropriate places and snort-laughing at stupid stuff. Embrace your humor, Sarah! It’s lovely on you! I understand what you mean about using it to hide behind, but I think it’s more about helping us balance out those heavy emotions. I thought your entire post was brilliant and funny. In fact, that day I added your quote to the perfect daisies photo. My dog is actually crapping in the daisies which really makes me giggle. Let the wolves step in that!

    But I did get to thinking about wolves more deeply as I was trying to quell my panic over revisions. Then I read about Robin Williams, read AJ’s post and I was feeling like the wolves were closing in on a lot of us. Sometimes we just take a chance and say it is hard, it does suck and some days I feel like giving up.A break is good. Laughter helps us rebound. But the danger zone is when we can’t refresh or bounce back. And we don’t say anything or we can’t. I was reading tonight how sometimes there are no “signs” because some people are good at putting up the facade. Not that we need confessions, but it helps to write through some of these things and share what you feel comfortable sharing. Sometimes we need to share the vulnerability.

    And then someone comes along and calls you silly names! Thanks, Sarah. For your words and your humor; they do uplift me. But let’s not go renaming the Rough Writers the Care Bears just yet! 😉

    • Annecdotist

      No, I wouldn’t like to see Rough Writers transformed into the Care Bears, but it’s lovely to see all this support. And Sarah, there’s no need to push yourself to write about the heartache when it’s not where you feel comfortable going at the time. Your writing is lovely and we all need a touch of humour and you’re certainly ploughing the dark side in your flashes. Great to be able to do both.

      • Charli Mills

        Sarah, Anne just made me think of fiction as a filter. That we use it to create some distance from those deep feelings we don’t want to dig into. Which is perfectly okay (not to dig). I made the decision years ago to never write about certain aspects of my life. I want to write what I want to write, not about unfortunate things that happened. And I choose to write about beauty. Yet, darkness always shadows the light in my writing. So I choose to let the light win. You’ll find your way through it and that it doesn’t require a shovel unless you’re burying a foot somewhere in a story! 🙂 Okay–no Care Bears!

      • Sarah Brentyn

        Yes, the support here is amazing. Care Bears. 😀 I much prefer to be a Rough Writer. We can tough this out (with the help of a Care Bear every now and again). Thanks, Anne. I’m not going to push myself to a place that’s uncomfortable for me. I’ll try to not be so hard on myself. Easier said than done.

        Charli – You know, Irene mentioned fiction, too. It’s worth a try. Third person and/or fiction. I guess it’s okay not to dig but isn’t that what moves readers? When writers feel? When they are genuine? When they dig deep? Then again, you’re absolutely right about making decisions about what you will and will not write about. It’s your life, your writing. I need to think about this…

        Ah! The foot resurfaces! 😉 I knew it was a matter of time.

      • Charli Mills

        Interesting question, Sarah. I think what moves readers is truth. Yet, that doesn’t mean we unearth ourselves to nothing but bare bones. We choose what to reveal, what to filter, what to balance or not, keeping it real. And, yes, I do believe that even with distance and choices, we have severed feet that emerge. You don’t have to tell me what that foot means–you might not even know–but you pressed into your own truth and felt something that resulted in a severed foot! Grim, but real and somehow cathartic. I’d like to hear some other thoughts from Rough Writers in regards to your questions. This is a good topic to discuss.

    • Sarah Brentyn

      Thank you, Charli. I know I’ll bounce back. (Isn’t that always what we say until we don’t?) I think we need to be careful with humor and just know ourselves and pay attention to whether we are hiding or dealing. And sometimes, yes, we need to share vulnerability. Like we’re doing here.

      I’m glad I can give you a laugh every now and then. 🙂

      • Charli Mills

        Yup, we keep bouncing back until we go into orbit or go splat–lets avoid each end of that bouncing! And you’re right about paying attention to the motivations behind the humor. Thanks for the honesty as well as the chuckles. 🙂

  6. Norah

    Gorgeous post, Charli, and fabulous comments by all. It seems we are all pursued relentlessly by those wolves – I thought it was only me! I join you in sadness over the death of Robin Williams. No matter how successful one may be perceived, it seems it is never enough. It is like scoring 99% on an exam, and wondering why we didn’t get that 1% more. It is that old duality of being satisfied, of being able to accept, while still seeking enough challenge to strive for more; balancing the haves and the cans with the wants and can’ts. I love Sarah’s quote. It tells it so true. I think it’s time we had a pajama party to celebrate the wonderful community you have established and what we share as writers, to offer our support in keeping the wolves from the door. Your input, for me personally, is powerful. It inspires me and helps me to keep going. The group hug shared on your blog from others around the world provides immeasurable support. Never underestimate the power and impact of your words. 🙂

    • Charli Mills

      Ah, yes that dichotomy between what we have and don’t have. It seems like the more you have, the more worries come with them. I know someone in college who also works as a professional full-time (getting her masters) and she’s become so obsessive over her scores. Anything less than a 99 is devastating. It’s as if her early scores set the standard of her self-expectations yet have also distorted her thinking. We can get caught up in negative thoughts of different kinds. I like the humor of Sarah’s quote, too. As we were discussing humor, I think it can help break up that obsessive thinking, too. Love the idea of a pajama party! In the mud, of course! Writers, educators, comedians, actors–we all have the ability to move others with words. Robin Williams is remembered by those who knew him as gentle. Let us honor him with gentle words (especially for writers clambering from wolves)!

  7. Norah

    You are right in talking about the power of humour to help us see reality and break the cycle of stresses we place upon ourselves, particularly when we can see our behaviour mirrored by a comedian. How sad it is that Robin Williams was able to do that for many of us but unable to have it reflected for himself.

    • Charli Mills

      Comedians can be a great mirror to break that cycle. Some say he was the funniest man in the world. I guess he didn’t have anyone funnier to help break his own stresses. We are all vulnerable to those moments. Just sad that his moment ended. But we can continue to laugh and help each other.

      • Norah

        That’s very true. I heard it said on the news tonight that Robin’s passing may have saved countless others from a similar fate. Calls to help lines have increased by 25% since news of his passing.He has left a wonderful legacy of joy and laughter behind. 🙂

      • Charli Mills

        Wow. Imagine that. He really did give us his all. And a wonderful legacy!

      • Norah


  8. Annecdotist

    I’m drawn back to this to check on others’ comments. There’s such a richness here in the post, comments and your responses to the comments, Charli. Grateful to be part of it.

    • Charli Mills

      Agreed, Anne! There is such a richness that happens when we open up our minds and discuss what on our hearts. To me, that’s the part of literature that I’ve missed–just talking about ideas and deeper meanings and helping each other see a richer perspective than what exists on the surface. I love to read and write, but I love to discourse, too. Very grateful for this!

  9. Irene Waters 19 Writer Memoirist

    A great post Charli. I read it the other day but have house guests and just didn’t have time to respond. I got one of them to read it to take back to the writing group I used to belong to in my small country town. I thinks we all suffer from wolves and monkeys tapping us on the shoulder. I find I don’t have a problem with the writing so much but what I don’t do as a result of it. Things like housework I just let go and friends and family don’t understand that you are working and really don’t want to go out. The time the wolves really knock for me is on finishing my piece and having to put it out there. The grief is immense and the lack of response can be totally debilitating. You do have to be tough and the rough writers conversations certainly are supportive. Thanks Charli

    • Charli Mills

      I’m honored that you got someone else to read it! Yes, I know that worrisome wolf in particular, the one that threatens to devour our un-read words. You’re so right, the bigger fear is having actually finished and having to put it out there in the world. Some writers never finish because of that one. And the grief is real. Best we can, balance the activities of writing that are exciting with the ones that take courage as we tatter our jammies in the mud. As to housework, a visit from guests is the only thing that motivates that activity any more! I agree that these rough Writer conversations are supportive! Thanks for being a part of that dynamic.


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