Saturday, January 26, 2013

"Oh Birdie, what am I going to do?"

There are some times when I am my own worst critic. Times when I am incredibly and unnecessarily hard on myself. Holding myself to an unattainable standard that no one else would ever hold me to.

But then there are other times when I am not hard enough on myself. This is one of those times.

I see how seriously behind I am in blogging about the New Things. Even with just writing in general. Why do I keep letting myself get away with this? There are some things in life for which we shouldn't get a pass. Writing falls within this category for me.

There are a number of New Things that have happened but I keep not doing the writing.

Technically speaking, if we're counting weeks since I turned 50, I am a few New Things behind. But this doesn't weigh on my mind at all. Because these events just do not occur weekly. A few weeks will go by without any New Thing; yet sometimes two or three will happen in single week. I have complete confidence in getting 50 New Things accomplished by my 51st birthday.

The writing, or not writing, however, is kicking my ass. I wonder if I'll ever understand why writing is so difficult sometimes. I call myself a writer. I claim to love writing. I think I can write pretty well. So why is it so hard?

I like to think of writing as my art. My form of expression and creativity. But it doesn't appear that people with other forms of creative expression have this problem. Are there painters who keep putting off the actual act of painting? But instead, just think about it all the time?
Are there interpretative dancers who rarely dance?
Are there chainsaw sculptors out there beating themselves over the head, metaphorically speaking, because they haven't fired up the Husqvarna 440 e-series in two weeks?

A quote I heard years ago, while in a writing class at Pierce, makes me feel better but also makes me wonder:
"Writing is easy; all you do is sit staring at a blank sheet of paper until drops of blood form on your forehead." (Gene Fowler)

I can always think of something else to do. Paint my toenails. Clean a closet. Watch my latest favorite movie for the 47th time. Actually, I'd even rather go to the mall. And I abhor the mall. And most other retail establishments. Well, okay, I guess I'd choose writing over going to the mall, if those were my only two options. Maybe I could use a personal 'writing' trainer to threaten me with a trip to Macy's every day. Sounds like a great business opportunity for some enterprising entrepreneur.
Am I all twisted up about this because writing truly is my passion and it hurts my heart when I am not diligent and productive?
Or is writing such a fucking struggle because it really isn't my passion? Maybe writing isn't the real thing? Is the writing struggle and the constant self-flagellation just a distraction from my true purpose?
My internal, intellectual cage-fighting skills are really strong. Always have been. Why is writing so hard? What does that mean?

I know these feel like rhetorical questions. And maybe so. Does rhetorical mean that you don't expect an answer? Or that there really is no answer?  

In You're Got Mail, Kathleen Kelly, writes in an email to NY152: 
"Sometimes I wonder about my life. I lead a small life - well, valuable, but small - and sometimes I wonder, do I do it because I like it, or because I haven't been brave? So much of what I see reminds me of something I read in a book, when shouldn't it be the other way around? I don't really want an answer. I just want to send this cosmic question out into the void. So good night, dear void."

I can relate. And sometimes writing here in the blog feels like sending cosmic wonder-ings into the Dear Void. 
But unlike Kathleen Kelly, I want an answer. I sincerely wish I knew. 
It makes me cry, this struggle. 


  1. ummm I think that writing happens when your heart, head and hand align with creativity force. Maybe your heart is heavy with another emotion/passion that you would rather not publicly write about or even acknowledge. Maybe your mind is preoccupied with worry or something else. Maybe you need to deal with some other things before your writing block disintegrates. I am betting your writing passion returns when it darn well feels like it. There are dancers, artist and chainsaw sculptors that put out 'no-so-good-work because no one is always on queue, they dance,paint or chain sculpt when they maybe shouldn't. QUIT beating yourself up about it. I would love the opportunity to be your personal writing trainer only I wouldn't threaten you with anything, I would actually send a swift kick!

    1. Yes. Even though I am not sure who's offering here, I accept. "Personal Writing Trainer" name tag for you. When do we start?
      I'm absolutely all-in with anyone who has the courage to hold a friend/loved one/family member accountable. It's an uncommon quality. Hold me accountable, swift kicks and all. Call or email me; we'll work out the details.
      I'm ready for this. ~ B

  2. Barbie, you ARE a {insert complimentary adjectives here] writer. Are you still part of a writers' group? After I left WA, I formed one in my new town. I would not be anywhere without my writers' group. It's like a few people make up the soul of my writing. Sounds dramatic, but it's true. If you aren't in a serious group, create one. Dedicate yourself to it. Don't let anything get in the way. I have felt exactly like you define yourself in this blog - when you find other things to do. Writing is a lonely venture, but it need not be. Anyway, I miss you and I miss your writing and I wish I had you closer to me so we could spend free time side by side with our laptops, drinking homemade wine. :)

  3. I miss you too, Laura. I think closer sounds wonderful. Thank you for the encouraging words and the reminder. Fresh air.