Writer’s Block and How I Escape It…

Word Press has a great challenge going for writers that encourages us to write daily or weekly, and to share some of the experience with each other and readers at large.  I felt compelled to respond to this one http://dailypost.wordpress.com/dp_prompt/writers-block-party/

I hit the mother of all writer’s blocks about five years ago, then again a year ago.  I knew exactly what triggered it…just stopped the words in their tracks….it was the realization that my marriage was over. Kaput. It ceased to be. It was an “ex” marriage.  The realization just took the wind out of my sails and the words out of my heart; it took every ounce of energy I had to keep up with breathing in and breathing out in a rhythm conducive to staying conscious.  I struggled daily..shoot, hourly at times, with just accepting that I had done the best I knew how, but it just wasn’t enough.  

But in January of this year, after loads of therapy and healing, and feeling pretty okay with myself and thinking the marriage was actually on the mend, I learned, that the marriage was in fact. finito. Finally.  There was no crying, just a matter of fact announcement on my part of, “Enough. I’m done.”  It took about a month, but I let go of my frustration and anger in the instant that I decided to forgive my ex, and suddenly, as if getting drenched by a car flying through a puddle when you’re standing on the sidewalk, the words came…and came, and came, and haven’t stopped coming.  

I don’t think I actually “did” anything to make this happen.  I didn’t decide to sit in front of the computer and write.  I didn’t promise myself to write about one topic or another.  Instead, I just sat back, opened the laptop, and let the words and emotions flow to the screen.  At times, it was an obsession, and I wrote to the exclusion of sleeping or eating, but it was as necessary to my being as either of those.  Now I’m faced with the scariest challenge of my life so far, but I’m trying to keep it in perspective.  Whatever happens, I know I will get through it through writing and with the support of my partner.

..which has now just prompted a thought for another post…..

 

A Time for Knowing: Drafted June 5, 2014 at 7:22am

I thought I had published this one…apparently not.  It dates back to early June, nearly 6 weeks ago.  It still is very much a description of me, perhaps even more so than ever.  I challenged “Bruce Wayne” earlier this week with the prospect of being in a relationship with a writer..that we just aren’t “normal”.  Everything that happens to us impacts us, but we’ve got to learn to get it in check to avoid hurting those around us who perhaps didn’t sign on to be part of our story, while still remaining true to our hearts and needs.  He simply responded that it is part of who I am, and that it is part of what attracts him to me.  Crazy person….I’m dating a crazy person…and loving every minute of it. Enjoy!

June 5, 2014

This is me, as naked and laid bare as it gets for a writer; I am sharing a work in progress.  It will change; it will morph, but I’m laying this out there to share a process.  I am strong enough in my feelings to allow you to watch.  I know that only those who know me best, will understand how I can share a process like this.  I know my fellow artists/writers may question my sanity.  I need to do this. 

 

 

I didn’t sleep a great deal last night following a brief, yet intense storm. It wasn’t a violent storm, but it had moments of demanding thunder, brilliant lightning, and steady purifying rain. The episode moved me to write an intensely personal piece. As someone who must write as surely as I must breathe, this unleashes an almost palpable pain.  Years of not writing interrupted by a torrential flow of thoughts and emotions is as excruciating a release as cramped muscles screaming in painful protest after sitting in hard-backed chair for too long: it was necessary to do to accomplish a task, but the end of that torture is exquisite.

 

As I write again, I am quietly aware of a flood of emotions, all competing for attention.  Which will I acknowledge; which will I ask to wait patiently? Which is certain to be ignored, if only for a little while?  Joy, sorrow, faith, doubt, trust, jealousy, love, apathy…these all jostle for time in my mind and heart. There is no better way to describe these qualities than yin-yang.  In the Chinese culture, yin-yang refers to two complementary forces: not precisely opposites, but complements.  There is no darkness without light; these forces all must co-exist, in order to exist. The yang, or “sunny” of these if you will,  can leave me breathless with their intensity; I crave them more as I experience them in their various forms. The yin, “shady” complement of these, at times leave me confused.  I want the yang of life! Why should I have to accept the yin as well?

 

In order to appreciate the sun, it is necessary to also know the night.

 

It strikes me that I may not be quite as simple a person as I thought. True, you don’t get much plainer than “let’s cook at home/take a walk/paint a wall/read a book/play in the rain/go to the thrift store”, but it will take someone truly gifted, and even more patient than I am, I think, to accept my need to express my thoughts and observations.  Right now, they are raw and reflecting where I have been; a river overflowing its banks after a storm.  It will subside, but who will flee, afraid of the power and intensity?  What remains to be seen, is who will stay, confident with the wisdom that the excess water will return to its source, once again flowing on its gentle path.  The river is beautiful in its grace, giving life, supporting life, bending around obstacles to continue on its journey. I hope that I too, will return to my banks, more gentle yet fuller, than I was only months ago.  I’ll overflow my banks again in time, of that I’m certain.  But I hope that this time, there will be someone along to patiently wait out the fury as I grow.

Stuck in “Down-Dog”

I was a bit mortified when I (finally) logged in again, and realized it’s been an obnoxiously long while since I’ve posted.  Lack of topics wasn’t the problem, nor was carving out time to write.  Nope, just plain old laziness.  You know the kind where you really would like to do something, but just can’t be bothered.  There isn’t really anything keeping you from it: you just don’t do anything about it.  No harm, no foul I guess in this case. I mean, it’s not as if I”m sitting idly by, watching with detached fascination as the pile of boys’ dirty dishes in the kitchen slowly evolves into a work of abstract art.  That would truly have consequences, such as being forced to pick up take-away due to the lack of eating utensils that could pass a health inspection.  Writing just didn’t make it onto my list of things I needed to accomplish in order to breathe or maintain an acceptable level of contentment.  It didn’t even make the”shit to do when bored” list.  It was as if I was stuck in downward facing dog, and just…couldn’t…move….

So what was the problem?  Anyone who knows me well, knows that I love to write…lengthy, grin-worthy (if not actual giggle-inducing) notes on Facebook reflecting my oft-twisted observations on life in general, short notes of encouragement…my co-teachers can attest to my rather lengthy emails that at times admittedly turn into novellas, simply because I’m loathe to quit typing.  I guess the silver lining in this is that I prefer writing to talking.  At least you can successfully keep the printed word from chasing you around like a yappy Chihuahua jacked up on energy drinks.

Depression? Maybe a touch.  Everyone gets a bit down, in a fog, bored, or any other condition you can think of as temporary.  I mean, I knew this would pass, right? I was still functioning quite well at work, although everything seemed to be coming at me at 100 miles an hour both there and at home.  Folks with spondylorapathies just don’t, as a general rule, move that quickly, but it seemed to have taken over my brain and not just my joints!

I became more and more convinced it had less to do with depression and more with interests and motivation. A massive chunk of my life and time over the past 6 years was devoted to finishing surviving the Ph.D.  At one point in time, I was spending 3-4 hours a day, forgoing sleep, dustless ceiling fans, and home-cooking in order to write.  When a series of professional and personal cluster-farts (I refuse to type THAT word, although I’ve certainly been known to utter it) converged to move our family down different paths than planned, I became annoyed with the process.  I was sick of it.  I reassessed my personal priorities. I had more important items on my PDA than “revise paragraph 3, Chapter 2” for the 10th time…taking it back to the way I had it written in the first place.  Nope, just didn’t see the point.  My husband was laid off work.  A car croaked.  Money was so scarce dust was more likely to fall out of my wallet than change. Seriously, what right did I have to bitch about a disagreement in phrasing of a sentence, that in the grand scheme of the cosmos, didn’t mean shit, when I had students who were coming to school without basic needs such as safe shelter and full bellies?  I just had to look at a keyboard to feel instant revulsion. I experienced a shake-up of everything I thought I knew I wanted in life and career, and there wasn’t any single “trigger” that started the process, but wow what a snowball effect!

But something happened over Christmas break…maybe it was the flu that laid us all low, resulting in a very unintentional laid-back break from everything, that let my brain just rest. Essentially, I performed a mental COMMAND-OPTION-ESCAPE (or “CRT-ALT-DEL” for those on a PC).  So did it work? Are the systems back up and online? Stayed tuned and we’ll find out together. Image