So often, the journey we are meant to take in life is not the first path we choose. It may not even be the second or the third. It may fall short of landing on the radar at all. Sparked by a freak coincidence or personal epiphany that we feel compelled to follow. An afterthought lost in the wind, continuously circling back till it hits precisely at the right moment.
My passion for creative writing has been buried inside for decades. I used to find myself completely engrossed in dramatic stories, poems, and mock-up picture books that could consume my time and thoughts for days.
Creative writing assignments in school were a delightful treat to the norm of reports and research papers. I recall savoring every last drop of a story or poem, holding on to the thrill as long as possible until it was back to the mundane tasks that filled the day.
Sadly, somewhere in life my writing passion took a sideline. Caught up in years of trivial interests and activities that bore no personal growth in my teen years. I spent more time worrying about what others were doing than focusing on my own desires.
Then, entering a state of personal panic during my 20’s, I frivolously attempted to make up for lost time by throwing myself into careers with good intentions, only to watch them fizzle out one by one. Enter: baby...baby...and another baby.
When the pandemic hit, I was going on my 4th year of freelance writing, the first job that designated writing as my main task. My work assignments were reduced so significantly, they required no more than an hour of my day. There were no blogs, press releases, or content pages needed. Only brief social media posts covering the devastating state of our society as 2020 barreled on.
Staying home, staying safe, my role as a stay-at-home mom was secured. My job as a home schooling teacher began. The days were long and scheduled with plenty of time for self reflection, but zero work to escape to.
I started to feel the desire to write something, anything. And with no other constructive thoughts bouncing inside my brain aside from creative works, that is where I began– finally.
Smothered by predicability.
Predictably has served as a mistaken value in my life that has resulted in considerable anxiety and pain. Feeling the need to know exactly what will happen, when it will happen, how, why, and the nagging urge to decipher every person’s motives was a ticking time bomb when it came to relationships. More equivalent to an atom bomb when it came to following my dreams.
Over the last decade, my aspirations and expectations for my life have shifted far from where they began. I first planted my feet on historic Boston ground at the age of 22 as a new social worker, the career path I had committed to at the time.
Feeling an instant connection to the lively culture of the East Coast, I secretly vowed never to live anywhere else. I strongly believed I had arrived in the city that was going to shape the rest of my life, my soul, my future. But unbeknownst to me, in those exhilarating first moments, I had no idea what my journey was about to entail.
If someone had told me right then, that I would...
...meet someone who would change my future plans of solidarity in the first 2 weeks.
...move to the suburbs on the outskirts of Poughkeepsie, NY after only 2 short years in my dream city.
...be just shy of 2 months pregnant with my first son before I moved.
...become a stay-at-home mother to three sons by 30.
...change career paths following each birth.
...would work as an 'office assistant' to a contractor in a broken down city bus parked in his yard before giving up on working outside of the home.
Well...I can assure you that I would have considered any of these events to be preposterous. Unacceptable. And I mean this is in the truest sense of the word.
Giving up on 'The Plan'
It wasn’t until recently that my grasp on the threads of predictability began to weaken. In unison with the rest of the world, the last few months have served as a life-altering period of self reflection. I was left in a state of unknown, without the supports and escapes I had so depended on. Without the safety net to predict what would happen next.
After weeks of living in a cloud of anger and despair, I suddenly realized how much weight this need to plan and predict was holding over my life. How it was smothering my writing aspirations and the person I truly desired to be.
Forced to bunker down at home for months, with little to no obligations required but to keep my children educated and alive, I noticed old personal habits resurfacing. Habits that were daily rituals when I was that fiery, fiercely independent 22-year-old graduate, clicking her heels on the cobblestones of Boston for the first time.
I felt inspired. I felt alive. But mostly, I felt…well to be honest, I felt like an idiot, for lack of a better word.
As natural as it comes for me to whip up a story draft or write a poetic verse, the idea that I had been spending so much of my life until this point attempting to assimilate into industries where my passions never fit was depressing. Sure, most of my jobs at one point or another required a bit of writing in the areas of policies, marketing materials, websites, and a poster here and there. But nothing entailed any deep or creative thought, in my own voice, following my own intentions.
Now, it’s fair to say that moving constantly and bearing three children in 5-years has posed some significant challenges. More often than not, at the end of my day, my brain and body are so drained there is not one ounce of useful thought left in my head. I can hardly bring myself to brush my teeth, let alone ponder the question of What do I really want to do with my life?
It took more time than I would like to admit to realize that sharing my writing with the world was worth the risk. That delving into a story was not a waste of time, and to shred the feelings of guilt that came with taking time away from my family to create.
But before long, it became painfully obvious how much time and energy I spent every day focusing on feeling safe and secure. Comfortable.
My desire for predictability has continuously led me on career paths that possessed a sense of job security and routine: a time to start, someone’s goals to meet, tasks to do, a time to stop, repeat. For years, I had felt the need to censure my creative pieces for no other reason than my own fear of failure, rejection, or insignificance.
With this journey I aim to crush those insecurities– for good.
‘Shell Sherwood’ is born
And now, I find myself here. On this new, unpredictable and unknown journey that I pray will change the course of my life forever. An escape from the same old pattern I have followed for 33 years. A road to become a published author of a tangible piece of literature I can hold in my hand to pass on for generations to come.
I can’t tell you exactly what to expect from this blog. I know that may not inspire much hope or interest, but in the spirit of unpredictability, I make no promises.
What I can share with you are my intentions. I plan to use my blog similar to an online journal/brainstorming notebook. I expect to share stories, personal failures, creative works, inspirational pieces, and hopefully some published works to sell.
Along the way, I hope to connect with other local authors, artists, businesses, and creative minds. The creative and small business industry is not easy to go at alone. It takes a village of support and loyalty to succeed. I am proud to say that I would not be where I am today without the encouragement of these passionate and committed individuals.
And so I invite you on an unpredictable journey, to an unidentified destination, taking a lifetime of commitment, most likely riddled with trial and error, accompanied by equal amounts of heartbreak and triumph ahead.
If you have come along for the ride, I welcome you. I can’t possibly predict what the future will bring, but there’s bound to be a story worth sharing.