Why I open my veins.

Via Lynn Hasselberger
on Jul 21, 2011
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photo: fashionromance

There is nothing to writing. All you do is sit down at a typewriter and open a vein. ~Red Smith

Writing is something I’ve done since I can remember. My first journal had a shiny gold lock. As if a 6-year old had dark secrets. The lock allowed me to say what was really going on in my life and mind. Like opening up about what I ate for breakfast. Or the fact that Susie and Carol were playing without me. With the little people thatย I invented. How dare they! My fictional stories in grade school were always read in front of the classroom — even during my Hippie Palace phase — and I could cram a college paper into a night and still get an A. In my twenties, my heinous blind date story was published in the Tribune. At work, my internal memos, client letters and, later, marketing proposals were praised. Hell, I eventually got paid six figures!

Those six figure days are long gone. But my writing lives on.ย  I love/hate to write. I have a list ten miles long of subjects and experiences I want to write about. And, of course, I’d love to write a novel and make millions. Instead I mostly just write and mostly don’t get paid unless it’s a marketing project. Some just don’t get why I spend my time writing if there’s not cash involved. Same reason I sit down at the piano and play Mozart.

I want to write and call myself a writer. But I procrastinate. Will it be good enough? Will it get read? What if it sucks? What if nobody cares? Why bother? Other things like removing a piece of fluff from my elbow or staring at the shifting leaves thatย  touch the sky or the silly, bouncy squirrel seem to take precedence. Of course I have the excuse of being a mom and having to put some chicken nuggets in the oven. But then the words start to itch and I have a primal need to release them from my body lest they eat me alive from the inside out.

I make more sense when I write. My verbal communication can be illogical. If non sequitor was a country I’d be the queen. I’m a quiet talker, sometimes I mumble. When the words have to come out of my mouth, I use them with less confidence. Fear of stumbling. Hence the mumbling. Or maybe my mouth looks funny when I talk. My lips are thin. Writing allows me to say it and say it with conviction and logic. And I can edit. And nobody can ponder how a person could possibly have such thin lips. (Side note: My mouth has been a focal point for many throughout my life—a story in itself—so I cannot help but be a bit self-conscious about it).

While I’d prefer more people read the save-the-planet/save-ourselves pieces, people — that means you, reader— seem to latch onto the ones that have required me to open a vein or two: the first visit with my brother; my fear of speaking; the pain of infertility; marital issues; struggles with what I wear; getting older; addiction.

We’re not sheep lice.

We are a species that needs and wants to understand who we are. Sheep lice do not seem to share this longing, which is one reason why they write so little. ~ Anne Lamott

Writing helps me understand myself. And when I share those words, an amazing thing happens. Other people tell me that’s happened to them. Or I’ve inspired them. Touched them or even made a difference in someone’s life. And, quite honestly, I’m lifted up when people tell me I did a good job. That I’m a wonderful writer. I’m a sucker for that!

It’s not easy. Staring at a blank screen is inevitable. But then somehow, magically, the letters form into words into thoughts and, before I know it, I’ve said something. And I feel better and my world makes more sense to me.

I love writing. And I’m grateful to you who read my words. Even more grateful to those who provide feedback. That puts the blood back in my veins so I can write more.

Writing is so difficult that I feel that writers, having had their hell on earth, will escape all punishment hereafter. ~Jessamyn West

P.S. Special loving thanks to Waylon and elephant journal for the chance to share my stories.


About Lynn Hasselberger

Lynn Hasselberger is co-founder of GDGD Radio; The Green Divas Managing Editor; and Producer of The Green Divas Radio Show. She's also a mom, writer and award-winning cat-herder who lives in Chicagoland. Sunrises, running, yoga, lead-free chocolate and comedy are just a few of her fave things. In her rare moments of spare time, she blogs at myEARTH360.com and LynnHasselberger.com. A treehugger and social media addict, you'll most likely find Lynn on twitter (@LynnHasselbrgr @GreenDivaLynn & @myEARTH360), instagram and facebook. She hopes to make the world a better place, have more fun, re-develop her math skills and overcome her fear of public speaking. Like her writing? Subscribe to her posts.


28 Responses to “Why I open my veins.”

  1. Bud Wilson says:

    Good Show Lynne! My daughter is a program coordinator at the Lighthouse Writers Workshop – I'll pass this along to her. I think I gave her Writing Down the Bones when she was about 8. It must have made an impression.

  2. Thanks, Bud! How old is your daughter now?

  3. Lynn, This is absolutely beautiful & close to my heart, as I just wrote a piece on the urge to write & record. I would love for you to take a look. http://www.elephantjournal.com/2011/07/sweat-pray… Thank you for this piece!

  4. […] some other people are writing for: Why I open my veins by Lynn Johnson Hassleberger Who am I writing for by Wade […]

  5. Thank you Lynn, sometimes I end up reading just what I need to hear, at the right time. Writing is a lonely affair. It comes from that deeper identity that we have no control over. Sometimes it's like being under a curse: we either comply with our desperate need to put our thoughts on paper (or…on screen) or they rot inside of us. I think I'll post that Jessamyn West quote on my bathroom mirror.

  6. Thank you so much for feeding my writing nourishment Temple ๐Ÿ™‚ Here it's been hot there in CT, too. The more I write what is really going on in this noggin of mine, the better the output. I still have my diaries and really need to go through and capture it in a post. So so so glad this inspired you to write. Yay!

  7. feeding my nourishment–that really doesn't make any sense does it?! I know you know what I mean ๐Ÿ˜€

  8. Oh cool, Susanna! I'll check that out right now and leave some feedback. Thanks for taking the time to read and comment. Cheers!

  9. You're welcome, Andrea! And thank you for taking the time to comment. People who don't write don't understand — true writers get each other, the loneliness and the connection. Keep writing! Cheers!

  10. Comments from facebook:
    Michelle Bassett damn well hope so ๐Ÿ˜› lol

    Lisa Marie Selow Love this.

    Anna E. Pollock Personally, I think digging a ditch would be much harder. The play of emotions and opinion on a page is such a sweet luxury.

    Liz Sockitoome Schmitz Love the line "if non sequitur was a country, I'd be queen." LOL

    Lynn Johnson Hasselberger Thanks for the thumbs up and comments all ♥ I've never dug a ditch, Anna, but I've performed other hard labor (not a fan of it). Sometimes when facing a blank screen I'd rather be digging a ditch or shoveling manure.

    Antoinette Armocida I have dug a ditch (albeit a small one) and trying to figure out how to say what I intend is much harder. Thanks for this great read that gives the rest of us who feel the urge to put thoughts and ideas on a piece of paper a chance to feel connected, and like we're not nuts because what we want and love to do can be so dang hard to actually do.

    Lynn Johnson Hasselberger My pleasure, Antoinette (well, not until I was done writing it). Some people are fortunate enough to just be able to sit and write without fear. I envy any writer who doesn't find writing that first word a death defying leap. But is the reward of completion as sweet?
    Lynn Johnson Hasselberger PS. And I also meant to say thanks, Antoinette, for taking the time to read and comment ๐Ÿ™‚

    Antoinette Armocida It was my pleasure! I hope to read more of your death defying leaps very soon!

  11. Lizzi says:


  12. Lynn:

    Most of my writing (the only writing I get paid for) is marketing as well… It’s nice to get paid, but gosh it would be even nicer to get paid for my fiction!


  13. Hello Lynn,

    I love the quote from Jessamyn West, I posted it on my FanPage and on a biz social site where I am a member.


  14. […] as I write this, I’ve felt happier and better than I have been in ages. My mind feels like it is firing on […]

  15. Thanks for taking the time to read and comment, Lizzi ๐Ÿ™‚

  16. Guess that's why they coined the phrase 'starving artist' … hope you get paid for your fiction someday! Thanks so much, Kirsten, for reading and taking the time to comment.

  17. Thanks, Phillipe! Appreciate you taking the time to read + comment. Cheers! Lynn

  18. Thanks so much, Linda! Cheers to you ๐Ÿ™‚

  19. Loved this piece, Lynn! ๐Ÿ™‚

  20. Deborah Davis says:

    Yes yes YES!

  21. Fiona Robyn says:

    Wonderful piece, Lynn. I love that Anne Lamott quote : ) (and Bird by Bird is one of my favourite books about writing).
    Here's to opening veins….

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  24. […] In both writing and yoga, we look for the seemingly opposite. We look for openness and courage. Softness and strength. Boundaries and possibilities. We look for flexibility and rootedness, all in the same breath. Itโ€™s this willingness for wild calm, a tolerance for crazy wisdom that can transform exercise into yoga and scribbling into writing. […]

  25. […] Write. Share your thoughts in your […]

  26. […] I love to write about most of those things as well as general life situations, but I haven’t written anything from my heart for far too long. It’s not that I don’t want to write, or that I’m uninspired. It’s just that I’m blocked. […]