Writing/Not Writing

Saturday 24 August 2013

Practice is meditation.  Non-practice is also meditation.  I read that quote, or something like it, in Wherever You Go There You Are by Jon Kabat-Zinn.  What he means is that what you learn about meditation by practising is great, but that even in the space where you are not practising, even that is not wasted because there is much to learn in the not-doing.  You can see what meditation does for you by not practising it.  By experiencing the lack.

I am 1/4 of the way or so through the theory component of a Certificate III in Home and Community Care, which is to be followed by 120 hours of placement.  I'm grateful for those 120 hours but in terms of finance, the amount of time it takes to gain a certificate that will enable me to get a job that will certainly not be paying wonderfully stretches out over months and months and throws me into depression at times.  And meanwhile I'm floundering financially.  Me and finances have never been very good together.  We continue on in that vein.

The course, though it's only two days a week, feels like it's eating up a big chunk of my energy.  This week I had classes on Monday and Friday, and on Tuesday and Wednesday I went out both days, once to visit a good friend for lunch and once to meet up with my mum in the city to go to the Monet's Garden exhibition at the NGV.  So nice to get out and socialise.  But stretching it just a little.  For me.

It all caught up with me last night and I realised I was daydreaming while driving home about climbing into bed.  And so I did, while my partner cooked dinner (bliss) and stayed there for several hours.  I struggle to stop and rest.  How hard it is in a society where so many of us are seemingly addicted to the opposite?  Even though it is bad for us?  Even though it is a creepy playing to the oppression that is stifling the way we live as complete human beings.  I struggle to stop and rest because I feel guilty, even though I need to do it more than so many people I see every day who juggle kids and jobs and housework and still find time to do other things.  I struggle with the resentment I feel towards those people.  They're often the ones who if you mention fatigue-related chronic illness will say that yeah, they reckon they've got it too.  It is hard having a fatigue-related chronic illness in a fatigued society.  They can't begin to understand how far the spectrum stretches, and how well they are doing comparatively.  They think that because they're sucking it up and getting on with it, that you should too.  It doesn't, however, work like that.

If I could suck it up and get on with it, I'd have a few more bucks in the bank than I do now, believe me.  And less stress.  And more security.  And I'd be bigger in the world's eyes but smaller in my soul's because I wouldn't be looking after myself.  If we suck it up and get on with it, we keep the world's status quo, the insane version we dance to, and I'm not so sure that that's exactly the thing that doesn't need to die down to the ground, get composted, and reborn as something better.

But anyway, I digress.  I am nattering on with my usual frustrations of time management/energy management/money management because I feel like even though I make many lovely and varied efforts to keep my head above water, just keeping up the current level is a struggle.  And the frustrating thing is that I'm feeling smaller, and I know that it's because I'm not swimming in the ponds that give me energy, the creative ones.  Because they're the easy ones to put aside.  Because writing when you're aching is possible - and you forget about the aches - but getting to writing when you're aching is harder than it already is.  And anyone who has a regular creative practice knows that strange space where you are resistive to doing the very thing that you know once you climb enfolds you like a mother and opens up the minutes.

I read an article a few days ago where a writer was recommending that you have 40 submissions on the go at any one time - eight pieces, sent out to nine different markets.  That's great in theory.  I have about four things out awaiting reply at the moment.  One of them I received yesterday - another no.  I am thickening up ever so slightly, getting used to the ongoing nos.  Many editors are kind, and they make sure that they tell you that whilst they enjoyed the read/it was original/thought-provoking that they don't think it's quite for their publication.  And so on you go.

But the thought of having 40 submissions on the go is a crazy one to me at the moment.  It's about nine steps ahead of the stage I'm at now.  Because having that many submissions means that you've put time aside to spend researching markets and sending your stuff out.  It's quite a time-consuming process.  And that is on top of actually writing.  And I haven't been regularly writing.

But you know what I've found?  Where years ago I used to get scared, worried that the well will dry up, what I have learned in the process of not-writing is ... well, how much I've learned and grown in the times that I do write.  I know, with the comfort that comes from experience, that getting into the habit of morning pages for a bit - Julia Cameron's practice of writing (preferably first thing in the morning) several pages by hand of whatever the hell comes into your head, and throwing it away afterwards - opens it all up, that a few days of feeling grindy and grinchy and what-the-hell-is-there-to-write-about-ey are alleviated rather quickly until I fall into that space where I feel that I will never be able to write about all I wish to even if I had seven lifetimes over.

I trust the space is there.  Which is a comfort, when I'm feeling put out that I simply don't have enough petrol tickets to get there after the "concerns of life" are met.  Or not, as the case may be :)


  1. I hear you on pretty much all of that. On the topic of writing, well, I decided that I just didn't want to send out all those submissions and get back all those nos any more, and I accepted that I just don't have that aspect of a writer than lets them keep doing that, or the energy, so now I just write novels for me and whoever else wants to read them.

    1. I so understand, Keechy. It's hard getting those nos. Good that you know what you can and can't do rather than continue beating yourself into a mush about it :)

  2. I wish I could give you a huge, energy-filled hug right now Sue :)

    I love that you write, "and I'd be bigger in the world's eyes but smaller in my soul's because I wouldn't be looking after myself. If we suck it up and get on with it, we keep the world's status quo, the insane version we dance to, and I'm not so sure that that's exactly the thing that doesn't need to die down to the ground, get composted, and reborn as something better."

    It is so insane! So many have lost how to truly take care of their Selves. I know, I've worked in soul-destroying employment where $$ are priority #1 and bullying and belittling of employees was served up daily.
    So many wish that they could take time out for themselves, but are trapped.
    What a crazy, maniacal merry-go-round.

    I find the concept of 40 submissions difficult - for me. I think people with high energy relate to it.
    But, it suits some.

    Some days, I feverishly work in clay until I almost resent putting it down to prepare dinner. Never enough hours. And my head has so many ideas that I feel I'll never have the time to create it all, and scarily, feel defeated by the thought.
    Other days, I plod as if in quicksand and can't get into a groove with it.

    I read about, and like, the theory that, just give yourself permission to stop after fifteen minutes of your chosen creative activity every day.
    If, after that fifteen minutes, you want to continue, perhaps for a further fifteen, then go ahead - you might find yourself immersed for the rest of the day.
    If not, no bad, fifteen minutes was better than none.
    I quite like that, it suits my sometimes scatty Gemini brain :)

    1. Isn't it funny how MUCH our energy changes from one day to the next? It's quite astounding really.

      I have been putting that same theory into practice a lot lately - not so much with my chosen creative activity (which would be clay, actually, and playing around with drawing, because those things have somewhat fallen by the wayside, at least for now) but with work I need to do, and with things I'm procrastinating about. It really, really helps take that black and white, all or nothing pressure and funnel it in a way that something concrete actually comes out the other end. 'Tis good, isn't it :)

      I'm so glad that it works so well for you too, Ms Vicki :)


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