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!


Almost Infinite Space

I doubt I shall succeed in writing here, I have not the sense of perfect seclusion which has always been essential to my power of producing anything. ~Nathanial Hawthorne at Brook Farm

The room is quiet.  The whole house is quiet.  Quiet save for Paul working on his music.  Listening and re-listening to some guitar tracks he laid down.  It is strange.  It is blissful.

You see, Silas took a trip on the big jet plane today.  He is on a ten day stint with my parents.  Safe, I imagine.  Thrilled, I know.  He has a day of Disney ahead of him, three days in St. Augustine, at least one work day with my father.  He’ll be great.

I miss him already.

Still, Paul and I are in are separate rooms working on our separate creative endeavors.  I have that almost “perfect seclusion” that is “essential to my power of producing anything”.  (In addition to having Silas away, school is just about out for summer.  Only one day left with kids.)  I guess I’m a little stoked.

In about an hour, Paul and I are going to relax into an Italian feast.  Olives, ciabatta, prosciutto, heirloom tomatoes, fresh mozzarella, steak, arugula, and wine.  We haven’t had a dinner like that in at least a year.  I think it may have been two years, actually.

But, for the moment, before the dinner, I have this simple, lovely solitude.

So, what to write about now?

I have been wanting to write about, have started writing about, have been thinking of writing about the crippling anxiety that I have been having lately.  But, on such an eve of almost infinite space, it doesn’t seem appropriate.

I started a short story based on my experience in a physically abusive relationship.  Nix on that too.

So, there seems like nothing to write about except space.  This wonderful, passionate space.

What will I do with this space aside from weed the garden, clean the house, and rid the azalea bush in our front yard of the poison ivy that’s choking it?

I can’t seem to conquer the concept that I can do anything.  Come and go as I please.  Aside from being on a limited income, I am now the master of my own universe.

And, aren’t I always?

That is going to be the prime goal of these ten days, of my newfound freedom.  To discover that regardless of obstacles, I am always the master of my universe.

I used to have a Kerouac quote as my screen saver : “and the whole world opened up before me because I had no dreams.”

That is the ticket.  To have no dreams right now.  No expectations.  Just read and read and write and write and exercise a little and weed and spend time with my husband.

I can take back this life that seems to have slipped through my fingers by just living it.  Step by wonderful step.

Let’s see what these days produce.  And, those after.  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.