Saturday, December 15, 2007

The silence

My silence has been filled with words.

The words that I have been painstakingly repeating, working with Madam everyday, watching her face light up as she achieves some sort of mastery.

TEG's exasperated “Just WRITE already!” after too many days of watching me sit on the couch jangling and jonesing for a better metaphor than that one about the junkies. I've lived a sheltered life; never met a junkie.

The long list of DO NOTs—as in “DO NOT complain, or write something embarrassing, or write about loneliness, or write something depressing or ugly, or write yet ANOTHER post that is just a “middle” without much of a beginning or an end.” I like posts that sum up something true, but lately, as I tunnel through a middle I just get to...more middle.

I am embarrassed to admit how childishly happy I was when I decided to take a break. I felt the satisfaction of the toddler tantrum. If words were going to be so hard, then to hell with words! I didn't need them! I would just...stop! Hurray!

It didn't take long before I started missing this place, but by then the gulf between writing and me had grown so much that I couldn't remember what good writing even looked like, sounded like, felt like. I could vaguely remember that every sentence had a subject and a...something that begins with V. And every word seemed linked, inexorably, to a chain of events that led to another writing mess I couldn't fix. It was enough to lead me back to the television.

So I did the next best thing to writing. I started reading, with a desperate desire to stuff the silence with other people's words. You know. Good words. Unfortunately, with the exception of one amazing book, all of the others tended to run together. I couldn't concentrate. My eyes skimmed over the same sentences again, and again, willing an inspiration that never came. I stitched together comfort from pieces of other blogs, other books. It was like standing alongside my own thoughts.

It was better than nothing.

My silence is littered with the detritus of stories that emerged half-born, during odd twilight hours of nursing and putting Madam to sleep. Characters that seemed like they were really going somewhere, with something to say, only to sputter into a sullen quiet as soon as I got near the page. There was a window, and I had missed it.

In all of this notwriting, I discovered that I spend all of my writing time clenched, waiting to be interrupted. Deciding NOT to write until I could guarantee that it wouldn't happen AGAIN.

I have a two year old. Like THAT'S gonna happen.

My silence told me that waiting for the perfect uninterrupted time and being furious that it never came, for me, was a bit like being angry that the in breath was inevitably followed by the out breath. (I've been reading some Buddhism during this break. It's been sinking in.).

This is not the post I wanted to write on my return. I wanted to have something to bring back to the tribe—a summing up full of lush, beautiful language. But that post was light years away. I have to let go of the shimmering promise that if I just wait...a little...longer, I will be able to write beautifully and render the ideal stories in my head PERFECTLY. Think my way out of the block.

But I have learned (again...) that notwriting begets notwriting.

Let's hope the opposite is true.



Blogger Frida said...

I'm pretty sure the opposite is true. If notwriting begets notwriting, then I am fairly sure that writing begets writing.

In any case even when you are fighting writing with every bit of strength you have left you write beautifully. Here is the simple truth. You are a writer, and when it starts to hurt more to not-write than to sit there and bleed your frustration out onto the page you'll be there.

In the meantime you are a stubborn writer refusing to write. And I still think you rock.

12:56 AM, December 15, 2007  
Blogger deirdre said...

I'm so happy to see you back here. Your writing is glorious, amazing, full of heart.

8:41 AM, December 15, 2007  
Blogger Marilyn said...

Although I was writing to the Sunday Scribblings prompt of "dance," (vs. writing about writing) I wrote a poem this morning in which the birth of my perfectionism suddenly seemed utterly clear. It ended with this:

...your fear of
letting go was always dancing
right there with you

I say this with the utmost affection (you know I adore you)..."perfectly" is in the eye of the beholder...and it can be a horrible master when we choose to be beholden to it. :)

2:18 PM, December 16, 2007  
Blogger Colorsonmymind said...

I love hearing about what is going on with you-I just enjoy reading your words whether they have a set beginning or end-are in the middle or end or beginning.

I just like YOU!

6:27 PM, December 16, 2007  
Blogger Laini Taylor said...

Glad you're back!! You put so much pressure on yourself about your blog posts -- we just want to hear from you. It doesn't have to be lush and shimmering. God knows my posts aren't! I've been wanting to really take some time to delve into some thoughtful posts, and I'm looking forward to the time when I can, hopefully soon, but for now it's likely to be silly pictures of warthogs and brief complaints about writing. And I know all about the detritus of half-born stories. Do I ever! There are stories I've been living with for YEARS, and talking about them right now they feel like ghosts in the room with me, asking me to make them live. I hope I can, one at a time.

(And thanks for the kind words :-)!!

1:10 AM, December 17, 2007  
Blogger Jessie said...

oh, m... this little thought:
"It was like standing alongside my own thoughts." ...sums it up so well for me. my god, i MISSED you!!! i'm not sure why exactly, but i feel an incredible amount of comfort in these words. i think, mostly, it is the sound of a familiar voice. it is always so easy to hear you in your words. maybe we should just come to terms with the fact that we will probably always struggle with writing, but that we love it anyway. you know, like with a toddler! :)-

i got your message last night after and exceptionally long day and it just about brought tears to my eyes. thank you so much for being such a wonderful friend, m. i love you beyond words!!

and i'm glad you decided to return to your blog. i really have missed you here. there's so much more i could say, but i suppose i should save it for a future coffee date (hopefully one sooner than later!).

8:06 AM, December 17, 2007  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Oh, it's great to see you back!

8:24 AM, December 17, 2007  
Blogger Amber said...

It is so true. Not writing does just make for more not writing. and all the rest I can relate to. I do the same thing-- wait for a time when I can be uninterrupted in my time. *SNORT!* (We talked about that). So never gonna happen as long as we have kids. *sigh* Oh well.


11:47 AM, December 17, 2007  
Blogger Lisa said...

I'm so glad you're back and you know I know exactly how you feel. The books I read are too beautiful, the characters I love are too foreign, have revelations and story arcs that my limited imagination can't find. Our expectations are too high. BUT, in the spirit of allowing myself to write crap, I have plunged completely into madness and decided to take Tim Hallinan up on his Dickens Challenge. It sounds crazy, but I decided to give it a try. So far -- so good (in my head), because -- the pressure of the time limit didn't allow me to fret about whether or not I was coming up with a meaningful story and it forced me to draw from my own experiences for the germ of the story -- I couldn't try to create characters that were foreign to me. Think about it. You are one of the best writers I've ever read. Maybe you need a deadline. The deadline doesn't allow for revisions and second guessing. Do it.

1:30 PM, December 17, 2007  
Blogger Yummyteece said...

I understand that you feel that this isn't the post you wanted to write on your return, but I think it's a perfect post to have written.

As always, you approach the page with passion and honesty. And just like many other brilliant writers I have read, you sometimes approach the page with frustration and conflicted emotions. If anything, I think that it only solidifies the fact that you are truly a writer. :)

Really glad to see you back.

12:22 PM, December 18, 2007  
Blogger kate said...

It's true. The more you write the more you want to write, and (I hope) the easier it is. I'm so happy you're back.

2:34 PM, December 21, 2007  
Blogger paris parfait said...

It's so good to see you writing again. Your voice is an important one and shouldn't be silenced. And the thing about writing, is you have to keep doing it - write out the angst, the annoyances, the pain. Don't worry about the result, just write. The more you write, the easier it will become. Happy holidays to you and yours. xo

3:10 PM, December 21, 2007  
Blogger Becca said...

May I add my voice to all the others who have said -it's good to see you!

Writing is so obviously a part of you, and something you are meant to do. Your words always resonate with vibrancy and meaning.

Finding you back is a very nice Christmas present for me :)

9:33 PM, December 23, 2007  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

See, your comments are all so thoughtful I honestly can't do them justice here and now. But your words are welcome, and cherished, and NEEDED.

Thank you!

12:36 AM, December 26, 2007  

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