For the last few months I've been in a serious writer's funk. All my usual tricks for getting myself motivated to write after a long day of teaching middle school hadn't seemed to work. Blank days on my writing calendar, an empty daily journal, my book of writing prompts ignored -- who cares? Even my writing group and a new poetry workshop left me feeling high and dry.
Then on election night I went to my poetry group meeting instead of sitting at home grinding my teeth at the election results. I was so afraid that everything I cared about would be defeated. Here in California we were fighting for Proposition 30 to save the public school system (and my job) and fighting against union-bashing Proposition 32. And of course, there was the very real threat of a new president who said he didn't worry about poor people and a vice president who wants to dismantle the medicare system.
When I left the house that night, Romney had won 133 electoral votes while Obama had only 3. Proposition 30 was losing and Proposition 32 was winning. What better thing to do than sit in a cafe talking about poetry even if I hadn't written a word in weeks? Finally at 9 p.m., unable to stand the suspense any longer, I surreptitiously checked my iPhone. As soon as I read the good news about Obama's re-election, I felt a weight lift.
The next day, the good news kept rolling in. Because of Prop. 30, the threat of losing a month's salary has lifted. California's working people - including this introverted poet who went door-to-door precinct walking - were able to successfully defeat the multi-millionaires who had flooded our state with money to destroy our unions. That was a good day.
And, unexpectedly, since then I have been able to write. Who knew that political anxiety could create such writer's block? It had never occurred to me that my fears were affecting me so powerfully. Hopefully I'll have the next four years to get ready for the next onslaught.