Working for the Weekend

Friday 22 February 2008

I'm working tomorrow, Saturday. Bummer! But I decided to do it because I want to start art therapy sessions (in the Dandenong Ranges) once a month. And I also want to get away, back to Rosebank Retreat for a few days, that cool place I went to several months ago and subjected you to 300 photos about.

Both of those are two things that feel important me to do creatively. It feels worth giving up a Saturday for. Six months ago, I don't know if i would have been able to translate my feeling that looking after myself creatively is necessary and important out into the real world quite so readily. Suddenly, I can. I can't tell you how good that feels. I'm starting to take myself seriously, and the part of me that has put up with not being able to trust me for years is unfolding and I almost want to cry just thinking about it.

Small decisions. Making the right choices. I can see a path a bit clearer now.

Last May, I was at the tail end of my Children's Texts subject at uni. In class one day, we began to write a children's story which we were to read out in class. As usual, I had no idea what I was going to write and felt like I was absolutely going to end up with a blank page and embarrassed red cheeks. And then a phrase occurred to me which seemed like it might not be too crap, and so I started writing. And then suddenly it all started coming out, and I kept writing because I didn't have time to stop and write something else, even though there was this thought in the back of my head that it was going to be a bit naff or something.

So my turn came, and I read what I'd written out to the class. Felt as I was reading it that it actually sounded alright, the "voice" was pretty good, this 10 year old girl. Liked the way it flowed. After I read it out, my teacher, a published writer himself, leant back in his chair and was silent for a bit (which was weird for him, because he's got a pretty big mouth). And then he said a few lovely things like, "That is fucking excellent! I really don't think there is anything I would change about that. Fantastic." And my cheeks reddened, but it wasn't in the way that I thought they might have been.

(I loved this teacher. He was just so damn politically incorrect, and it was great. I could see half the students were kinda spun out by him because they're used to their teachers not saying much that's controversial at all, and this guy was just totally opinionated. I really liked him, as grating as he was at times - like when he used Christ as a swear word. Nails on blackboard when people do that.)

So anyway, I got embarrassed sitting there in the class, feeling so pleased, feeling so like I was thirsty, like I'd been getting around in the desert for 400 years and someone was giving me a glass of the best water you've ever tasted. I was thirsty for this validation that I could write. It's a different thing to hear it from people outside of yourself. You suspect that maybe your stuff is okay - but how do you know? Maybe you're just kidding yourself, want it too much. You need someone else to say it. And to hear him say that ... well, I floated home after that class and that wonderful feedback.

Several weeks later, I sat down and in the space of a few hours wrote a short story, a 1000 word piece that just fell out almost whole (I have no idea where it came from). I was pretty pleased with that too, pleased enough to send it out in the hopes of getting my first piece of fiction published (I'm still waiting, even though I got a great rejection letter).

So May was quite heady for me creatively. Woo-hoo! Finally, after all these years, I was starting to write stuff and it was all starting to happen and hey! - maybe I really could do this, even if it felt so completely out of anything I'd known, a pipe dream too good to be true. But who knows? Other people wrote stuff. Why not me?

And then Winter hit and I got a bit seasonally depressed, to add to my post-marriage-breakup depression. Then I met someone I really liked, and so I got a bit obsessed over him, even though I was in absolutely no fit state to get involved in anything romantic. Then I got sick. Ramped up my dope smoking so that I was smoking a few tokes every day - nothing big, but just enough to take the edge off, you know? A bad habit I'd reintroduced myself to since becoming well again, and one which I wanted to ditch but couldn't muster up the energy. I went on carb fests - ate some toast, or whatever (even though my body doesn't like wheat very much, or any grains, really), and then got that fuzzy headed feeling going on, that lethargy which made me forget why it was that sitting down to write was a good thing, and that lying on the couch instead watching TV was a much better way to go.

And so after having a cool May, I blocked myself. And stayed that way for months, using a bloke and drugs and food to keep me from writing because as wonderful as it was, it was SCARY. It was so scary that I developed complex and intricate webs of ways to stop myself from doing it. It was a pretty unconscious thing at the time, but looking back, it is suddenly patently obvious what I was doing.

And so finally, it has become blinding to me that writing really is easier than not writing. I always knew this to be true intellectually. What I couldn't see, not quite as starkly and fluorescently as I do now, is the kind of person I am when I am blocked, and how unsafe I am to be around myself, you know? When I'm blocking myself, I'm inclined when pushed to self-crazymaking, a bit of a drug addict, a bit of a love addict, a bit of an anything-at-all-really-as-long-as-it-can-stop-me-from-writing addict (yes, Dream, I can feel you nodding from here :) Oh, this is rather painful to write but it's true.

And so I can finally see clearly the price I pay for being blocked, how exhausting it is to live that way. And so as terrifying as writing feels, I can finally - finally, like a big dill that needs to be smacked over the head to see the obvious - see that writing is easier than running to keep away from it is.

My goodness. Paradox. It makes me laugh. I guess I am in some sort of recovery. Feels kinda sacred.


Edit: I originally wrote here that I was a crazymaker (a Julia Cameron description) but realised this morning that this was being way too harsh. I am not a crazymaker to other people, and only to myself when I've got myself creatively cornered and none of the other blocks are working ... or, at least, it was so in the past. The times seem to be a'changing.

I'm sorry I've blathered on so much in such self-indulgent fashion lately about writing and stuff. I'm pretty excited about it all, as you can see, but I'm conscious that I don't need to tell you guys every single thing about it :) Maybe I do need to set up another blog ...

1 comment

  1. I love hearing about all the aspects of your life! Bring it on!


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