As Big or as Small as Things Wish To Be

Sunday 8 November 2009

When I was younger, I went about for years and years stuffing my feet into shoes that were too small for me. I do not remember now how I came to realise that the real size of my feet was one whole size larger than what I had been wearing, but now it baffles my brain and saddens my heart. Four of my toes had developed lumps on the top of each from the friction of cramping and shoving my feet into shoes that were too small for me and yet I wore size eight and a halfs for years and years, somehow blind to what was right in front of my eyes and right at the end of my legs, cramping my comfort.

I feel dissatisfied with the last blog post I wrote. Not because of its content, but because I tried to fit so much into one post. Some people write posts and realise that what they are looking at has enough breadth to call it a series and write four posts. I try to stuff everything I am thinking into one and do people's heads in in the process.

I do not want to have to wait. After I have begun writing, and the thoughts keep coming, and I add another paragraph and another paragraph until I have 47 of them, the only thing that stops me from saying, "Right then, this is actually four blog posts then, isn't it" is the desire for the instant gratification when I Pavlovianly press "publish post," and the disinclination to have to put in the effort of writing four posts because suddenly it feels like work and not like fun.

But things are their own shape and size and space and length and breadth. The only time they begin feeling like work and like a chore are when I have expectations other than the size and length that they are showing me that they actually are, and the desire to move onto the next thing instead of staying right here.

Ultimately, what it comes down to is a deep and unconscious belief that what is right here in front of my nose is not worthy enough to breathe and focus on it. This leads to all sorts of creepinesses, like treating the person in front of you like something in your way, like treating yourself as less than you actually are. Sort of like psychological and spiritual leprosy .

I am redrafting the first short story I have managed to finish for several years. It's all over the shop at this early stage. I hardly even know what it's about. I keep reminding myself that it takes time, that it's sitting bubbling away on about four stove backburners and that the work knows its own shape. I must let it be as big or as small as it wishes to be.


  1. i totally understand the shape and size thing. i read somewhere that people lose interest in blog posts after about 500 words. i struggle with that in a variety of ways - limiting myself - chastising myself when i write too much - becoming frozen and not writing anything AND i realize i often skip by posts that have "too much stuff - words, colors, links". i agree that things should be "as big or as small as they wish to be." it's a personal decision both as reader and writer. please yourself, sue, but definitely stop squeezing your feet into too small shoes!!!

  2. oh the pain of squashed up toes

    you know, i would beg to differ about your claim re the short story [ yes i know it depends on your definition of short story ] but seriously, you write short stories here all the time - particularly about the train journey people

    perhaps the blog is your version of going barefoot - freeing the toes a little to rediscover their true shape and abilities

    and a short story is that, as big or as small as it wishes to be :)

  3. Lucy - I struggle with the 500 word thing too. So much of what is important to say lies beyond the scope of a 500 word limit. I do get frustrated in that way at how limited the scope for expression is in our forms of commmunication these days. I think that is why books will never go out of fashion :)

    Please don't chastise yourself for writing too much. I have never once thought, "Oh, that bloody Lucy. I wish she'd just shut the hell up" ;)

    It is a personal decision both as writer and reader, isn't it. I think that's a bit part of it. What if the things we are creating are asking us to be big, encompassing, massive things? What then? How often do we squash them down into something smaller because "it's not my place to talk so loud". I think women are often taught such things unconsciously.

    Yeah, no more small shoes. A good permanent physical reminder, however, of this strange inner propensity that at least once I had to do so. Not again. Must go barefooted and splay myself out as much as possible to make up for it :)

    Kel - yes, I thnk you are right. I think those train stories are stories. I do not know what I will do with them in the future but I am thinking to collate them at some time and see what I can make of them. I'm quite fond of them, actually :)

    And yet they aren't the same as crafting a short story, of making up characters and situations out of my own head. That is another form of expression again and it is quite delightful to be immersed in the middle of a piece of fiction (although terribly undelightful as well. So messy, although I can feel the effects of my art therapy work with Maggie in here, trusting the shape, trusting it to come forth, sitting with the discomfort :)

    Isn't it wonderful, the different forms and genres of things. Blogging is great but luckily it's not the only one. Speaking of other forms, I am loving your beautiful blog blessings of recent times.

  4. I write the same way. I start and it all comes out and then that's it, good, bad or ugly it gets published. I also wear size 9/1/2 shoe. Are shoe sizes the same there as they are here?

    Good for you for finishing the story, the hardest part is starting and ending.

  5. What I love about your blog is your concentrated "flavour of Sue". I hope you don't lose that.

    I have a practical suggestion for your longer posts: take five minutes extra, go through and stick sub-headings in. It really helps guide the reader through. Questions in your headings or subheads work great too.

    But stick to the comfy shoes at all costs!

  6. Barbara - I'm not sure about the shoe sizes - I think they might be different? I have big giant feet and would have been completely cactus growing up in feet-binding China :)

    Thanks re story. It feels pretty amazing to have finished it :) (Well, finished, but with rewrites ...)

    Tess - flavour of Sue. I wonder what flavour that would be? Chicken? :) Thanks for the tip about subheadings; it's a good idea. You know, I did a Writing for the Web subject as part of my uni degree a few years ago, but I really don't take any of the advice I learnt - write shorter sentences etc. I just don't write that way. I'm sure it costs me readership but tough, I guess :)

    But subheads - must give that a try next time :)

  7. I follow you perfectly, because my mind works the same way. Someone accused me once of giving them "spiritual indigestion" Not in an ugly way. Said all my points were valid,even good, but they could not take it all in. They could only ID with one passion, or idea, or soapbox at a time. Made sense to me.

  8. Jo - I guess that's a pretty good problem for you to have really, isn't it :) Just a matter of dosage :)


Newer Older