Why You’ve Lost Your Words


I’ve lamented these last several months my lack of coming up with anything to write. And when I do commit to words, my beloveds read wooden and trite, and superficial. Worse yet, I couldn’t figure out the problem, in fact, I obsessed over it, climbed up and down my brain, and continually came up empty-handed. I searched for a thing to say, some topic, some wisdom, some something, until I told a friend two weeks ago that it seems all this social media-izing is scooping me out instead of filling me up. I don’t need to tell you that inspiration is a tricky thing. You must tuck letters, songs, art, visions, inside, not keep giving them out. Twitter, Facebook, blogging, all that…it’s a lot of living outside yourself and that externality not only wears you thin, it empties you. And I’ve been emptied.


I used to love to read. How it sustained and inspired me. I would go through several books a week and relish the plot, the story, the taking me away but stocking my mind coffers all at the same time. Then I began to read words online. Not Kindle and its ilk, oh no, I can’t go there yet. Despite my imposed reading fast, I still crave the smell of pages, the must, and dust, and blood, and sweat, and soul juice. But now, I consume stories from blogs, and tweets, broadcasts, status updates, instant messages, direct messages, emails, and on and on and on. I began to learn to talk and think in teensy snippets, compress my words into palatable nuggets, put my brain on warp speed. The world can wait, the world can wait. Those not speaking on online time? They seemed slow and laborious.


And so, books did too. So many words! So many hours required! So much inside-myself time at that. I need to be outside with you all, or you’ll forget me. Plus, how does one work her way through pages and pages and pages? My brain is a hamster wheel, a carousel, a microwave oven. I don’t have all minute. Because see, the online world can’t wait, and soon you trick yourself into thinking you must speed the ferris wheel in your head to keep up; you’re only as good as your last online communique. So you pull words out of yourself. Sometimes they’re plucked from your soul, but most often not, and you continue to go, and go, and go. Collapsing in a desert of words that’ve lost their meaning. Pretty soon, you see there are more like you, and you’re engaging in one-dimensional conversations just to see your name pop up in a timeline. There are not enough moments, not enough moments.


It’s the books and stories and 3D conversations I miss the most.


And slow. And laborious.


So what I did is forget my laptop this past weekend. I kept it far away from me, and left my online engagement levels at an all-time low. I made enough moments. I looked at people when they talked. I didn’t want a RT from them either, and thankfully, they wouldn’t know one if it bit them in the ass. My fingers stayed in my lap for the most part, and my carousel brain slowed to a crawl. I took to a book, and the words were so delicious. God, I love words. And there I had it shining in front of my stopped-up brain: I love words. With meaning. With meat. I want them to evoke and pull and move and hurt and blind and sing and bleed and waft and blow through my heart like a tempest.


I’ve been spending too much time giving out meaningless words just to give them.


Without purpose.


I’ve been going too fast.


To somewhere completely off the map.



I see words in those clouds. I tweeted this pic. Contradiction much?


All these words without intention or storytelling is breaking my soul a little. Or quite a lot. I’ve moved farther and farther away from who I am and what I am because I think I should be operating online in a certain “see me, I see you!” capacity, that’s quite frankly, blown my bliss. I’ve been angry with you, too. You say you’re a writer, but you want something — fame? recognition? ego-stoking? — and you use words in a way that says you don’t love them. You are simply using them. And I shouldn’t be so mad at you. You can do what you want, just not on my time.


Because I need to get back. Remember who I am, and why I’m here, and what I love; and if I’m off the map, it’s because I stepped into the brambles on purpose.


For inspiration.


For the shoring up.


I refuse to be emptied.


Or filled with meaninglessness.


19 Responses to “Why You’ve Lost Your Words”

  1. Ummmm…OH MY GOD.


    (You see, I seem to have lost some words, too.)

    Thank you. For speaking for me, I mean; even though that was not your intention.

    Because this is exactly it.


  2. Carl says:

    I love this one. I identify with it. There are thousands and thousands of great books I want to read and hundreds of blogs are updated everyday. I’m tired of feeling guilty about not getting through enough of it. The important thing is to be absolutely present in everything I do, which is never enough.

  3. You’re sounding like I’m feeling.

    You may not be able to read this if you’re in the power outage, but I’m checking in to say HELLO and hope you’re OK.

  4. flutter says:

    You are wonderful and could never be devoid of meaning

  5. foolery says:

    I’ve been coming to this realization myself. NO I don’t want an invitation to Google+; I’m hoping Facebook dwindles down to nothing and I can go with it quietly. But you, YOU. Not only have you hit the nail right on the head, but you have also found the words to drive the nail in deep. Blushing through my mixed metaphors, I am once again inspired by your words. YAY DEB!

  6. MomZombie says:

    I’m feeling the same way. I spent the last month of summer with my now-kindergarten aged daughter. I socialized. Nurtured real-life friendships. Made plans. Sat on the beach. Read books made from paper. Hiked in the woods. Worked in my garden. Picked vegetables. Joined our community garden/farm. Rode my bike. I’m tired of the pressure to perform, to have Klout and influence and to collect names and numbers. I’m at a loss for words and I’m tired of feeling bad about it.

  7. How funny. I also unplugged this weekend. I didn’t post for three days – which is unheard of for me. I was barely on twitter.

    And? I read a book. A real one. With paper.

    I realized I should only post when I have something to say, instead of just filling space.

    So, uh, would it be bad to tweet this post?


  8. gigi says:

    It’s amazing how much world you see when you step out of the virtual one and back into the real one.

    Well done. I went on a 10 day unplugged vacation recently and it was tough the first day, and joyous the remaining nine. I will never forget it.

  9. Sherri says:

    Of course, I came over here from Twitter…but this? Is like you took what’s been bobbing around in my head for weeks now and put words to it.

    I used to read, too. I found myself trying to explain to my stepmom the other day how I “just don’t have time to read anymore” and listening to my words they sounded shallow. Lies. Because I choose not to take the time, because while I’m unplugged and reading someone might “need” me on Twitter. Or be leaving me a comment.

    I need to make a change. Thank you for this and yes, I will be retweeting it.

  10. Ash says:

    I love this. The one shining beauty of the internet, making lost souls understand that they’re truly not alone.

    The rest of it, eh. I have hope for us because the pull of the page, of the silence and stillness, it was once part of our world. What about the newest generation? I’m afraid their minds just might implode.

    Putting down my iPhone and picking up a dusty book.

    XO – Ash

  11. This is what I’ve been feeling lately but didn’t have the right words for. You hit the nail. on. the. head.

    I just started spending a bit of time reading each night and it’s wonderful. And I’m trying to get back to scrapbooking, which has been shoved under a rug since I started blogging.

    I feel like I’m in a weird spot at times… because I have to work and right now that work is marketing consulting and trying to turn one of my blogs into a business. It’s exhausting but it’s either that or return to work FT (which we simply can’t afford to have 2 kids in daycare). So, I tell myself it’s “for my business” and then I remember how I never wanted to be an entrepreneur who worked all hours… and that’s forced me to slow down.

    Thanks for your beautiful words and a gentle nudge to keep reading my book, scrapbooking and taking time for myself… away from the computer.

  12. Tim@sogeshirts says:

    This post really resonates with me. I no longer read how I used to. I’m too plugged in. It also drains me. So nice to see someone put into words what I can not.

  13. This was so beautiful, and so well written. I’m going to re-tweet it now! :) Oh, and I love the cloud pic! Awesome!

  14. Nancy Beck says:

    What a great post – couldn’t agree with you more.

    I think we get so into the blogging/Tweeting/whatever digital world that we kind of forget there are other things out there. Like Life. Like Petting Your Dog. Like Playing With Your Kids.

    Thanks for reminding us to recharge from time to time.

  15. I just got on Twitter and am not totally sold–it seems mostly full of self-promotion; though it’s also been great for talking directly with friends and general info.

    Your message about our decreased focus and patience is well-taken.

  16. Holly says:

    Earlier this week I had an opportunity to meet some amazing, successful women. So, of course, I put my Twitter username on the nametag, thinking that because I learned of the event on Facebook that it would be like our other Tweetups. It wasn’t.

    I was tongue tied. How do I explain what I do to this non-techie audience? I met a woman who, despite being told it was impossible, created a living for herself as a goldsmith making beautiful jewelry. And another woman who asked if my daughter would prefer New York or Japan if she wants to be a designer. And another who helps mothers of special needs children – in person! Gasp!

    Then came the blackout, and it felt like childhood with barbecues and candles and watching the kids play until it was too dark to see.

    I love what you write, Deb. If it means I see you less on Twitter (and I do because my timeline is so crowded) and more on Facebook with a link to your ever-so-beautiful words, then I am ok with that. Better than ok. Thrilled!

    Holly @mobileHolly and yes I am retweeting this.

  17. Dennis says:

    Write about fun stuff you do in San Diego!

  18. You are hitting my nail on the head. Can we talk? Like go to lunch and have a 3D conversation? I feel like you & I see each other at these thingys and I know I adore you, but would love the opportunity to know you mo betta.

    Lunch one day at my pseudo office, Panera?

    Please say yes.

    Mucho besos.

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