Wednesday, April 4, 2012

Gathering Moss

Kind of feels like what I’ve been doing lately, that gathering moss thing. Put myself on a detox program of sorts. Not detoxing from wine, sex, booze or food mind you, I mean c’mon I’m not a masochist nor am I a saint. No, a detox from blogging, actually any kind of writing outside work and the occasional email. Not sure if this happens to most bloggers, I somehow suspect it doesn’t seeing how many of them keep plugging along regardless hits and comments but for me, well I found that my voice was getting too intertwined with my comment section and stat counter. Feeling like a marionette aching for someone to pull my strings, make me move about and when those strings went still I found myself, a pile of silent and lifeless parts. Sucked and unbelievably suffocating for me. 

It was as if I didn’t exist, my words, thoughts, passion, desire and heart thumping were not possible without those numbers, those hits and constant words of affirmation. Those strings that once made me move now tied tightly around my neck, choking the life of this blog, my voice and honestly, the joy of writing right out of me. As someone that has spent the better part of her life being independent and not really vexed or concerned with how I will be perceived by anyone, letting others dictate, through my own bullshit, when or if I would do something that I loved, needed, made me feel confident and beautiful in a way that conventional beauty never could have….utter bullshit. I’d turned myself into an emotional cutter. Not writing for fear of looking foolish was not only punishing no one but me, it had in fact turned me into one of those approval seeking, “stroke me please” people that I swore I would never be. Enough. 

So I took some time off, posted cheese articles and threw up an old post while I figured out if I should stop blogging, maybe give up writing all together. Ron Washam’s voice in my head, “You need to write for the sheer pleasure of the craft” in a boxing match with my fear and dependency….the words, “I can’t” slamming against my head, ringing in my ears, making those words of support harder and harder to hear and rendering me speechless…….incapable of touching those parts of me that drove me to share myself in the first place. Lunacy, complete fucking lunacy. Add to that the Writer’s Symposium where I had to honestly ask myself is I wanted to chase those articles about AVA’s and trends in the wine business, discovering, fairly early in the week actually, that I did not. Coming to terms with the fact that I am not really cut out to be a wine writer, at least in the traditional sense of the word, leaving me questioning if there was a place for me at all. Big pile of lifeless parts…..

Watched two movies last night, one of the many things I’ve been doing to distract myself from the slow, dull ache that was settling into the spot where my love of “the craft” had been. The noise and following a plot a respite from the over thinking….and the missing. Time to just get lost in someone else’s story and away from my own whining. Yeah, turns out I happened to pick two movies that were not only fucking tear jerkers, they were essentially about how connected we all really are. How even the tiniest of exposure of your heart, fears, failures, pain, elation, thirst, can affect someone else, often in ways you never thought possible. I sat there, tears rolling down my cheeks, my palm pressed against my chest, feeling the heart that had been quietly rocking now beating against my ribcage like two fists trying to break free. The pounding creeping up my neck, filling my ears, the unstoppable beat of the drummer that has always moved me landing upon my eardrums….this, this is what I want to do. What I need to do. I may never be published, may never write a book, may never get another hit or comment again but as I sit here, writing an honest piece, sharing my story, I know that none of that matters. I’ve already been given more, accomplished more than I ever thought I would when I started writing this blog. The rewards that have been bestowed upon me have come in the form of friendship, love, trust and support. Immeasurable gifts and if this gift, or voice of mine, this writing thing, brought me all of that….then I have been paid richly. Now, now it’s time for me to keep exploring my craft, discovering things about myself, sharing them here without the puppet strings of insecurity. 

I don't need to be praised
Don't need to be liked
Don't need to be wanted and desired....

I need and want This


webb said...

Well, this is good news. Have been missing you recently. Don't be too hard on yourself; you write beautifully and from the heart; I love it when your blog pops up on my reading list - don't care what you are writing about; just love hearing what you have to say.

that said, I think people need to take breaks. It can go from being a joy to being a pain in the ass, especially since you also have some committed writing to do for work.

Am glad you are back from your break. See you soon on a blog list near me! xo

John M. Kelly said...

The key line here, I think, is " the traditional sense of the word." You never have done anything in this biz "in the traditional sense" - so far as I can tell you have always been a complete original. Listen to Ron. Don't do what others expect - there's already enough "me too" types out there. Your sandbox is not crowded, and even though I am not playing in it with you, I like watching your enjoyment when you are there.

Samantha Dugan said...

Cannot tell how nice it is to hear those words, "been missing you" as I was missing you all as well. I don't think I was suffering from burnout as much as trying to rid myself from the constraints, (self imposed mind you) that were truly mucking with my ability to write. Glad to be free of them!

Well fuck, how sweet was that? This struggle with myself has been going on for more than a few months now and I think it just took some time away, the feeling angry that I was letting myself be shut down....the aching to feel my fingers fly across the keyboard and watch my voice dart across the page. Sometimes you just gotta break something before it can be fixed. And just so you know, there's always room in my sandbox for you.

Ron Washam, HMW said...

My Gorgeous Talented Samantha,

If any of my words helped you get back to your work here, then I consider myself a hero.

Most of us have voices in our head telling us we're not good enough, not smart enough, or not talented enough. A writer learns to hear only her own voice, the voice that is dying to be heard. You only answer to that voice. It can be very demanding, and it should be, but it also won't lead you astray. You have a clear, compassionate, funny, powerful voice, Samantha. Those other voices? They're mostly dead and gone. Let 'em go.

You are a born writer. I felt it the first time I read you, and, trust me, I rarely think that. Not that I'm any sort of judge, not at all. More that you command the page and have the power to make people think, and care, and feel. When you're letting it fly, without regard for how many hits or how many comments you'll receive, there is nobody like you.

Have fun. Don't just write when you're inspired, write in order to find inspiration. And thank you for allowing us along while you explore your craft.

I love you!

Anonymous said...

I'm glad you're back, been missing you. Without seeing you in person, laughing and telling stories from your spot on the couch, and having lost contact without internet, well hell... it kinda sucks.

Thinking of you girlie, sending good thoughts from miles away. Books and cheese and all that shit is just my way of saying miss your voice.

Samantha Dugan said...

You are a hero, mine. I love you more than you know.

Your gifts and random emails have melted me on more than one occasion and your gift of friendship is one I shall forever treasure. I miss you too love.

Romes said...

Thanks for coming back :-)

Samantha Dugan said...

Jess & ADoC,
I owe you both a late night nuzzle on the couch, way inappropriate conversation and a thank you for finding this silly ass blog and coming to meet me. In both of you I have found a friendship that is exceedingly rare and for that I will forever have bottles open and a spot waiting for you, both in my home and in my heart. See?! This is why I know I have to keep semi-sober late night rants brought all of you into my life, (Sorry webb...but I just know we too will meet some day) and now, now I simply can't imagine what it would feel ike without you. Hugs and kisses all around.

Thomas said...


It's difficult to add to Ron's words and advice, but I will =do it anyway.

There are two types of writers: the ones who do it for a living (or try to) and the ones who do it in the natural course of living.

To do it for a living it helps to be a good writer, with a personal voice that resonates. Unfortunately, that isn't always the case, and readers can figure it out eventually.

To do it during the course of living your life doesn't take anything but the desire to write. In your case, however, you also have a compelling voice--which I have told you before. You are lucky that you can do what you want to do, but even luckier that you don;t plan to make it your living (at least not for now).

The thing to do from here forward is to stop even glancing at the hit numbers and simply enjoy the ride until you feel like it's time to get off.

Incidentally, writing as a profession isn't a piece of cake even if one is talented. That's because no matter how talented one is, there's always an editor or two that view things differently than the writer. The benefit of blogging (for the writer) is the absence of the editors.

Samantha Dugan said...

The stat thing was my first hurdle and yesterday was a test for me. I had stopped checking the numbers a while back, well other than to have a laugh with Ron by sharing the stuff that people Google that lands them on my blog....dude, some serious comedy there, but to not check after a new post, which had been a habit for me, was not as much hard as it was weird. I think much of the behavior is habitual; check emails, check Facebook, check stats, a way to kill some time but as I said here, when I would check and see that all these people were reading and not saying anything, well it was for some fucked up reason deflating as hell. My numbers have actually been on a steady rise but comments way, way down. So guess how many times I checked yesterday, zero. On the road to wellness I hope!

You know how much I admire you Thomas so thank you from the bottom of my heart for all the advice, you are just the sweetest thing.

chris said...

Dear Sam,

Cut those silly puppet strings of insecurity.

Often your words leave me speechless and what I need is silence, so I don't comment...I savor.

Thomas said...


As a guy with three books and hundreds of articles and/or columns behind me, I can tell you that it's rare to hear back from readers.

I expect the same is true for blogging.

If wanting comments is the thing that motivates a writer, than the writer's motivation is slightly skewed.Not that we don't need or want to hear from readers, just that the motivation to write should be to tell a story.

Samantha Dugan said...

That heart thumping thing, you just made it happen again. When I was done watching those movies all I wanted was to be able to move someone the way I had just been moved and I think for the first time I understood what it is you cats had been trying to tell me...I can do that at times. Cannot even begin to tell you what a remarkable feeling that was.

I think that is what I am just now beginning to understand. I hate to site baggage but I'm sure that carrying that load of, "You aren't very good at anything" bullshit weighed me down in ways that I'm just now starting to get. As Ron said, I need to just let all of that go. Write because it feeds me. Makes me feel good. If I get hits and or comments, well all the better, but it cannot be the reason why and when I got stuck in that cycle, well it showed and I was never happy with what I had written. You all have been so patient with me and the visits and support do in fact make me feel truly special, for that there are now words powerful enough to explain what that means to me....

Thomas said...


Any creative activity involves the pursuit of excellence, if not of perfection. That means that most creative people are often unhappy with the result, which odds are will always be short of perfection.

Marcia Macomber said...

I thought Ron's final comment was really key: Write when you're inspired. Write to be inspired.

Sometimes you sit down with fingers on keyboard and nothing pours out. OK. Sometimes it works in reverse. You just have to start tapping out on the keyboard - occasionally dumping long passages of crap -- before you feel yourself hitting your groove again.

We all think your writing is great. Just keep going.

Sara Louise said...

Right for you Sam. That's what's important :)

Sara Louise said...

Right for you Sam. That's what's important :)

Samantha Dugan said...

Oh dude, that too has been a problem in the past. That feeling that each piece needs to be moving, powerful or perfect. Life doesn't work that way and I think it's high time I come to grips with the real fact that neither do I. Perfectionism has never been high on my list so that one, well it was easy to let go of.

Does indeed happen that way, although I can't remember ever dumping whole paragraphs....I mean c'mon you've read some of the crap I post! I do intend to keep at it and try my best to find inspiration not outside of but in the work. Thanks.

Bit of a stutter there Missy. Yeah, the writing for others just doesn't work, can't work and in trying to do so I got caught in those silly strings. Just have to go back to writing like I used to, back when I knew I had no readers, and hope that some of you continue to like what it is I put out there. Hugs to you lovely.

Anne said...

I'm glad you are back. I love what you write and the way you write.

Samantha Dugan said...

Well aren't you sweet. Thank you so much and for the record, feels really good to have all that crap off my shoulders. Like a fresh start or new adventure and I cannot wait.

Charlie Olken said...

There are people in this life who hate writing but are good at it and find that they can make money at it.

You, Samantha, are in a different place. I am not even sure you should be a blogger.

I have long thought that your best work should be published, in a book, in print, on good paper so that we can hold it in our hands, can look back at it when we need it for inspiration, for love, for a good laugh (as in the Food & Wine Chronicles).

That kind of writing, your kind of writing, needs permanance. I don't see how a blog can do that.

It is interesting to me that you and Ron have become so close because his writing is also in want of permanance.

Churning out articles that come from deep places should not be here today and gone tomorrow.

I don't want you to stop blogging in my own selfish way. But great writing is not done on a regular schedule in short bursts.

I wish I knew how to make it possible for you to take your writing to that level. No comments section. No stats counters. Just folks who wait for you next collection of wit and wisdom.

Most of us who write about wine could never get to that spot. That is why we write tasting notes and articles about AVAs. Thank goodness that you do not.

Samantha Dugan said...

That may be one of the most flattering things anyone has ever said to me. You stunned me actually...and I now find that any words I wish to use to properly articulate my feelings seem far too tiny compared to your words here. Thank you sweet man.

Valerie said...

Just stopped by because I do miss THIS. You - and the almost daily blogging banter, the mutual inspiration & motivation. Leaving you a big sloppy Syrah-spiced kiss & a hug from my own moss-covered stone that just ain't rollin' these days.

Samantha Dugan said...

Thanks love, I miss you too. Here I was all RAWR and junk and now it has been five days since my last post! Holiday and my husband's absence have taken its toll on my time but, I'm okay with that and not wiggin' out so know for sure I am in a much healthier mind set about my blog. I do wish you were writing more however, missing your sass as well.