On Writer’s Block or Olsen’s Silences Part Two

“This insatiable desire to write something before I die, this ravaging sense of the shortness and feverishness of life, make me cling, like a man on a rock, to my own anchor” ~ Virginia Woolf

“People ask me how I find the time to write with a family and a teaching job.  I don’t…  A writer needs time to write a certain number of hours every day… It is humanly impossible for a woman who is a wife and mother to work on a regular teaching job and write.  Weekends and nights and vacations are all right for reading but not enough for writing.  This is a full time job…”  ~ Margaret Walker

I only have one child.  This is often a source of sadness for me.  I wanted two children that were close together in age.  Life has not made that possible.  I believe, however, that life often gives us what we need.

I only have one child.  One husband.  One full-time job.  Still, I find it hard to write.  I find it hard to have any time to myself.  Unless, that is, it is scheduled time out of the house when I know that my husband will be home.  I dabble in theater once or twice a month.  I go to therapy once a week.  This only provides me with a fraction of my creative fix and my emotional sedation.

Perhaps, this lack of time and space is a fault of my own.  Perhaps if I asked for help.  Demanded the time.  Stayed up later.  Didn’t drink when I stayed up later.  Because, like Virginia Woolf had, I have “the insatiable desire to write something before I die”.  By writing, I suppose I mean the completion of some idea that has an audience and is recognized as something worthy of reading.

Lately, when I sit in front of the computer, I end up just staring at the screen.  I start work and don’t finish it.  I am feeling a little hopeless.

In order to write, one must have the time not only to put words on paper but to follow-through with ideas, to even conceive ideas, to really explore one’s self.

I am tempted to do it all over again.  Tempted to sit and stare.  Tempted to grab a beer from the fridge.  Tempted to close this document and fold the laundry.  I might, just might, do any or all of these things.  Still, that will not help me.  I will be dissatisfied, unfulfilled, again somewhat hopeless.  I will be that empty vessel on that chaotic sea.

I only have a limited amount of time.  Maybe ten minutes today.  If I am lucky, another fifty years.

I realize how dreadful I sound.  How full of angst and trepidation.  Still, how do I find that “anchor” and how do I carve out the time and the space?  How do I continue feeling inspired in the brief moments that I do have?

Okay, I did open a beer.  The inside of the bottle cap read: “Washes away anything that the world serves up.”  I like it.  I put my ear buds in and am streaming Pandora (Arcade Fire station) from my Nook.  My husband forced me into the “reading room” and is allowing me the time.  Let’s see what happens now.  Let us see!

An experiment:  If I post something creative in the next hour or two, you will know that the beer and the music and the faint solitude have worked.  If not, well then I have stared at the screen and retired to my room—somewhat tipsy—to read or fold laundry.

Let us see!


1 Comment

  1. slysummaries said,

    July 8, 2011 at 8:13 pm

    I do not mean to say this to alarm you, although I don’t know how else you could possibly feel about it. I was in this place for years. You know this already, because you’ve been nearly the sole recipient of my complaining about it. I also do not mean to say it will take you years to break the block. You’ve always been so much more motivated, so committed. Plus, even though the kids still require a lot of attention, you can see the hope on the horizon, right? You’re going to fight through this, with more aplomb and in less time than I did. I mean, I can’t believe how much I’ve written this summer, even though it’s just a reading journal. It has spawned other ideas, which is kind of amazing.

    But maybe, I want to suggest gently, you’re putting a wee bit too much pressure on yourself? I mean to write something amazing when you look at the screen? You need to exercise! And I don’t mean at Carl Sandburg, either. I mean writing exercises. I wonder if you can find a guide on line, kind of like that book I got called The Aspiring Poet’s Journal. It really did have some pressure-free good ideas in it. I’ve been meaning to dust it off for a while.

    Keep on truckin’, little boomer.

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