The Strangeness of Writing

I’m going through a strange…ness lately.

At the start of December 2017, I was exhausted. So tired that I couldn’t think straight and I didn’t want to write my stories for a while. So I put down my iPad and my Scrivener and my latest story and started reading.

I read the rest of The Mystery of Mercy Close by Marian Keyes and loved it.

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Then I started reading Practical Magic by Alice Hoffman. It’s so beautifully written and the narration is so delicious that I find myself fascinated with the way Alice Hoffman has used the omniscient narrator to capture the Owens women’s lives on the page. The story isn’t at all like the movie with Nicole Kidman and Sandra Bullock. There are similarities and resonances between them but the two versions are stand alone stories, related and similar in genetics but not close enough to be family. They’re more like distant cousins.

So when I finally said farewell to 2017 and welcomed in 2018 (by sleeping through it – yes, I’m that much of an old nanna already) I decided it was time to get back into my creative writing. I finally started to feel that tingle in my mind and in my fingers, telling me it’s time to write again. But I didn’t want to push it, so I made myself have one more day of rest. It was new year’s day after all.

Then on Tuesday 2nd January 2018 I got on the train to go to work again. I pulled out my iPad and rewrote a part of the climax of Toddy James. It felt good to get going again and I wrote most of the way into the city.

But then this morning, I fell back into that abyss of strangeness where I couldn’t write. I sat on the train, flipped open my iPad and keyboard and … nothing. I couldn’t get a single word moving. Alarm bells rang inside my mind and all the anxieties rushed in to fill the void.

Sometimes that scares me. I’m scared because my mind races around and wonders if I’ll ever get through the labour of giving birth to this book? Will I ever deliver this book? Not that anyone is actually waiting on it, so I shouldn’t be all tied up in knots about getting it done, except to say that I committed to finishing the manuscript and I want to do what I said I would do.

My mind races a little more: Will I ever get my writing up to publication standard? Will I ever finish a story that people will enjoy reading? Why am I persisting?

So many anxious thought racing through my mind, they paralyze my fingers on the keyboard.

In the end I listened to an audiobook and chilled out. At times like these, that’s all I can do. My psychologist has taught me that these moments move through us like clouds through the sky. Clouds move with the atmosphere and are not stagnant and neither are emotions. Fears pass. Happiness passes. Difficulties pass. Everything passes because nothing is permanent.

This moment of strangeness will pass and I will move through it and I will keep writing because as my partner says, “Selina, you can’t not write. It’s in your blood.”

It’s just when the moments of nothing-ness happens fear rises up and stalks me like a beast in the darkest of nights. It breaths heavy on me, pants on the back of my neck and raises the fine hairs. All of my senses tell me that my shadow is stalking me.

I know my shadow self is watching and waiting. Lurking.

Sometimes I am afraid to face that shadow but deep down, I know that my shadow is my greatest teacher. She is the unseen and many treasures await in the depth of darkness. She challenges me to go after what I want and to stand up to my fears and move through them, move past them.

I will make it through the moments of darkness and I will step into the light where everything will work out and the words will flow again. Sometimes it’s about taking a leap of faith and taking a mini-break and accepting where I am in life.

In a strange way, I love my shadow self because she is so rich with opportunities to learn about who I am and where I am going in life.

I hope 2018 is a good year for you. I’ve got big plans this year. Plans for my writing and I am sticking with it because I love stories and I’ll keep coming back to the page. I’ll keep showing up and we’ll see where things take me. No pressure, just persistence.

Happy reading, happy writing, happy creating.

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