Writing and Musing and Poems

Today

I randomly opened to this Bukowski poem in You Get so Alone at Times it Just Makes Sense:

take a writer away from his typewriter
and all you have left
is
the sickness
which started him
typing
in the
beginning.

Several Days Ago

There is nothing I have to say.  Nothing really.  I could say anything at all.  Be forewarned.

My husband and son have given me some writing space.  My husband is cleaning up the mess in the living room that I should have cleaned up today but instead paced around the house thinking up brilliant ideas.  My son is running around him in one of his many personas, laughing and being his little perfect self.  My son, in fact, has been kind enough to allow me space, in little tidbits, all day.  He spent an awful long time in the tub, for instance, while I sat on the toilet with my laptop.

So, although I have been deep in thought, wavering between jubilation and anxiety, it has been a very good day.  A day dedicated to thinking.  To change.

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Little Life-Altering Epiphany

I wrote this post on my former blog when Silas was 15 months old.  I am including it here because it deals with writer’s block and with epiphanies both of which I am currently experiencing.  As you will note, I need to get back in this saddle.

So, while I flounder around starting posts and stopping them mid-sentence so that I can edit, edit, edit my content, so that I can double-check to make sure that I am saying what I am meaning to say, so that I can verify that I am writing something worthy of this brand of instant “publication”, I am, by all stretches of the creative imagination, not writing at all.  (In fact, I just started to delete this sentence and then stopped myself and forced myself to write it before I could read back to the beginning and delete the whole damn thing.  Where are thou, my self-confidence???)

So, I have, just recently, in the last few days in fact, experienced a little, life-altering epiphany.   And, yes, like most life-altering epiphanies–or at least like most of my life-altering epiphanies, because I have had so very many, you know– the burst of mind-numbing enlightenment was completely obvious.  Beyond obvious.  Let me fill you in…

While perched on the toilet– I admit that I often feign constipation in order to fulfill my literary yearnings– I revisited the introduction to Bird by Bird: Some Instructions on Writing and Life by Anne Lamott.  In her opening paragraph, she discusses a childhood filled with books and with people actually reading them.  She talks about a writer father who sprawled across the couch every evening after dinner to read, read, read.  She writes about how the whole family would retire to their favorite reading spot and about how, on occasion, their house was also filled with, perhaps better than books, her father’s writer friends, who would, to Lamott’s dismay, occasionally pass out at the dinner table. Ah!  How I wished, with all my stupid heart’s desire, that I could be living that life.

Living that life?!?  You’d think I was envious of someone who built a 4-acre palace on the back-side of a cumulus cloud.  I mean, golly, turning my back deck into the Playboy Mansion may be a little beyond my reach, but living in a house in which people stretched out after a good meal to enjoy a good book?!?

Yeah.  I’ve been spending my time desperately yearning for the easily possible.

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A Kick in the Butt!

I just received a very pleasant kick in the butt.  An enjoyable slap in the face.  A lovely pull of the rug from under my feet.

And, you, lucky you, are privy to this kick, this slap, this rug pulling.  Just read Kim’s comment on my last post.  Yes, the comment in which (and I am paraphrasing here) she implores me to stop whining (she didn’t say whining, that’s all me) and seeking out approval.  Write, she says.  Write for you.  Just write.

She is absolutely correct.  (She even went so far as to say that I frustrate my audience with my lack of confidence.  Hoo-yah!)

I could go on and on about when and how this happened to me: this shift into needing constant approval, this inability to write without the audience in mind, this lack of confidence.

But, I won’t.  I will spare you.

Instead, I will focus on a turn around, a lesson, an unfurling if you will.

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More audience. More writer’s block.

I have been very busy and I cannot write.  I’ve spent several nights staring at a blank screen wanting to connect with you but feeling unable to do so.

When I cannot write I feel imprisoned by my own skin.  By my own brain.  By the helplessness of humanity.  I feel inadequate and empty.  Mediocre.  Unbecoming.  Banal.

When I cannot write I am nothing.

Or, so it seems.

This is not as dreary as it might appear.  I am being a little dramatic.  But, when I am busy I am something: mother, friend, partner, wife.  It is only when I sit down to create something—some  reflection, some story, some poem, some post– and cannot, that I feel empty and alone.  A shell of a woman.  A shell of an artist.

Writing is a solo act.  Until, of course, you have your audience.

Here comes that promised answer to my question!   (If you have not been reading my blog, the question has something to do with why people feel the need to seek out an audience.)

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An audience! Oh, an audience!

I’m here to write.  To fulfill my daily pledge.  But, I have been hesitant.  Not hesitant to write.  I have been writing.   I have been hesitant to post anything here.

A friend once asked me what inspires in people the driving need for an audience.  We were talking about blogs in particular.  The various types of blogs, the many varieties of sounding board.  I tried to justify my own need for an audience by claiming that I view my writing– in any form that it takes– as an art form.  I specifically stated that I don’t use my blog as much as a sounding board as a venue for my art. That I write essays, not journal entries.

How self-important.  How untrue. (My last post will attest to that.)

You see, I am one of those.  One of those that desires/craves/needs an audience.  Not just for my writing.  I’m sure that is why I am involved in theater.  I feel that way when I am dancing too.  Recently, with my therapist, I expressed the desire to be back on the salsa floor.  Salsa is something I am good at.  Something I can lose myself in.  Something that I imagine people are noticing.  Staring at.  Jealous of.

How self-important.

(Yes, when my therapist asked me, as homework, to dance for 5-10 minutes alone at home, I could not.  It’s just not the same, is it?)

So I am here.  Hoping you will stare right through me.  I am here justifying my need for an audience under the pretense that I am some sort-of artist.  That I am painting some manner of self-portrait that you will notice, stare at, contemplate, congratulate, love.

How, yes, self-important.

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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!

Olsen’s Silences (Part One)

I must write on this blog.  I must write on this blog.  I must, I must, I must…

I am so tired my eyes hurt and it is only 9:05.  Only.  I could be in bed by 6:30 most work days.  This year has been hard on me and I have often referred to myself as a slug.  (In fact, I think I did that in my last post.)  I have been completely sapped of energy.

Still, I am here.

I am here.

There is this book called Silences by Tillie Olsen.  It is dedicated “For our silenced people, century after century their beings consumed in the hard everyday essential work of maintaining human life…”

Olsen writes of her own silences:

In the twenty years I bore and reared my children, usually had to work a paid job as well, the simplest circumstances for creation did not exist.  Nevertheless, writing, the hope of it, was “the air I breathed, so long as I shall breathe at all.”  In that hope, there was a constant storing, snatched reading, beginnings of writing, and always “the secret rootlets of reconnaissance.”

I am here.

And, I am not alone.

Perhaps, that is all that I can hope for tonight.  The beginnings of writing, the secret rootlets of reconnaissance.  Just being here if only for a moment.

Just one moment, literally, for I am drained and cannot think straight.  (These 253 words have already taken me 40 minutes to write.  My mind is that blurry.)

But, I vow to be back again tomorrow.  To conquer my own silence despite its many strapping fingerlings.

To create the circumstances for creation regardless of my obstacles.

I understand now.  That is my dream.

I leave you with Olsen’s words and with the wish that you, too, find your voice and shout.