WRITER’S WALL (or, Sharon Creech Made Me Cry)

by henandinkblots



By Hannah Goodman


 My writer’s block has been going on awhile. When I visualize this “block”, I see myself in a 4-sided brick structure that I’ve resurrected myself, all alone, no assistance. And I always see a brick or two, unsteady at the stop, about to fall right on me. While I’ve never been literally struck in the head and fallen into a coma, my writer’s block feels like one of those precarious bricks at the very top has fallen on my head and struck me unconscious, rendering me silent.

 Go ahead and head-shrink me. Clearly, I have some issues.


I had a brief “awakening” recently (think of the Robert De Niro movie with the self-same title) when Sharon Creech gave her keynote speech at the NESCBWI, 2013 conference I attended a few weeks ago. As Ms. Creech spoke to us, an audience that filled a giant ballroom of the Hilton, I jotted snippets of her speech into my notebook. Each nugget of wisdom jolted me, and by the end, I woke from my writer’s block induced comma. 

“. . . frantic excitement. . . ”

The story she opened with contained the words “frantic excitement” and those words were from a young reader who wrote to her about her own work being published and how she felt this “frantic excitement” about her work being out there for the world. Those words moved Ms. Creech, but more importantly, they moved me. When Ms. Creech spoke them, this flicker inside me, a memory-flame of myself, age 11. Frantically writing in a yellow five-subject notebook, the spark of an idea so crackling, I wrote dozens of pages with “frantic excitement” in just a few days. . .


“. . . intense need . . . ”

I scribbled those words in my notebook but without any context. I don’t know what the words are connected to in Ms. Creech’s speech. But I heard them and another flicker crackled inside me. Another, more recent memory. . .This past November during NaNoWriMo. Racing to my computer between all the duties of a working-from-home-mother, just to type the words to a new novel. Each day of that month I rode this internal, intense, aching need to GET THE STORY OUT. No judgment. No evaluation. No worry. The intense need so scorching, that I couldn’t hear the voices in my head of doubt and fear, I was so distracted by the burn of needing to write.  

“It’s okay to be inspired by another, but we need to find out own voice.”

 The only full sentence of all the notes I scribbled onto the lined pages of my composition pad. And these words filled my entire body with an energy that glowed warm and soft inside. The deadness of my creative mind plumping up with life. The energy pouring out of me and easily vaporizing the brick wall of writer’s block.

As Ms. Creech came to her final words, we all stood up and clapped, and that’s when the grip of fear inside released completely, manifesting in some salty tears dotting the corners of my eyes. When we took our seats after, I jotted in my notebook: “Thank you, Sharon Creech. Thank you.” 


That afternoon and evening, I wrote. I went into the current three WIPS I’ve been working on and started to revise the opening pages. The energy from Sharon’s speech stayed with me, and I typed, feeling a surge of simpatico with myself with what was happening in my head and on the computer screen.

 It was, in a word, lovely.

After I returned home, I watched myself put bricks up, one by one, with each passing day. Once again, I was walled in on all sides.

This time I called upon the words from Sharon Creech:

“. . . frantic excitement. . . ”

“. . . intense need . . . ”

 “It’s okay to be inspired by another, but we need to find out own voice.”

Like a silent prayer, I say the words to myself as I remove each brick one by one. Soon the only walls that surround me are walls of words, inspiring me.

Thank you, Sharon Creech. Thank you.

* * *

Hannah R. Goodman has published young adult short stories on Amazon’s Shorts, in an anthology entitled Bound Is The Bewitching Lilith, and in the journal Balancing The Tides. She has an MFA in Writing for Young People from Pine Manor College’s Solstice program. Recently, she established Sucker Literary Magazine for emerging writers of YA fiction, which was featured in Publisher’s Weekly. A former high school English teacher, she now owns her own small company, The Write Touch. Hannah is a member of the Editorial Freelancers Association and SCBWI. She resides in Bristol, RI with her husband, two daughters, and three cats: Lester, Maisey, and Judy. 
You can find her on 
Twitter @hannahrgoodman 
or @suckerlitmag 
or on her blog Writerwoman.

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