You have to be able to stand not knowing

20170312_155901.jpgI love my blog most of the time. I love that it exists and that I can come here to pour out ideas and wonder and dream out loud. But my blog isn’t always useful or helpful. Sometimes it’s like a window on which I just want to pull the blinds.

Sometimes, a simple old-fashioned journal works better. Or a walk with a close friend. Or family time.

“I don’t really know what you do all day, Mom,” said one of my children recently.

A few days later, there was a detailed discussion, involving all my children, on the subject of all the books I should be writing, mostly revolving around riffs on Girl Runner. Sequels, prequels, spin-offs. A great deal of laughter.

I got so depressed, I finally asked them to stop. It has been years since I’ve written a publishable novel. A person starts to wonder, you know.

The work goes on. It’s what I do all day.

This is not an uncommon story, to be sure.

“You have to be able to stand not knowing long enough to let something ALIVE take shape.” -Lynda Barry

I don’t know how long I can stand not knowing, but, aha!, there’s my word of the year, standing right there inside that sentence, firm and strong and useful, if a bit itch-inducing. It never occurred to me that I would or could use it in this way, but I can and will.

xo, Carrie


Give what you want most
Wonderful ordinary dream


  1. Sarah

    You are so right Carrie, I understand this blog so well. You have to be able to stand the not knowing but also know that you’re shaping it and driving it somewhere, even when it doesn’t feel like you’re doing anything. I’ve been in this place for awhile now and it’s so hard some days. But there’s movement everyday, and a purpose.

    • Carrie Snyder

      Hi Juliet, I have been following this series with great interest, and I had not read the latest instalment. Thank you for pointing it out to me. Many of the problems with the program ring true to my experience, as do the rewards. My group is only a few months into our sponsorship, but I think if the bonds are strong and real, the friendships made will last past month 13. Unlike the family described in the story, the family we’re sponsoring is eager to become independent, they use public transportation, and they’ve made connections with other Syrian refugees through their language schools. Personally, I’m concerned for government-sponsored families who are struggling without that layer of community support; at my youngest children’s school, the parent council is trying to informally provide support for several families whose children are going to the school. The need is real. The sponsorship program gives ordinary individuals a practical and personal way to respond to otherwise overwhelming global disasters caused by forced migration, war, poverty, etc. It’s not perfect, but it’s an eye-opening education for sponsors, and I hope, too, that it gives some families a chance to start their lives again.

  2. Lindsay

    For what it’s worth, Carrie, I love your blog and especially these honest and eloquent reflections on what it really looks like and feels like to be a writer.

    This particular topic, and that quote from Lynda Barry, came just at the right time for me, in the midst of some career uncertainty and pondering where writing fits in my life. Thank you!

    • Carrie Snyder

      PS I would love to hear an update from you sometime, Lindsay. Let me know how writing fits into your life, and if there’s anything I can do to help or encourage you.



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