June 24, 2014

Writing about Not Writing

It has been nearly a month since I last posted a blog post and just as long since I worked on my novel. June has been an interesting month, to say the least. The best part of it was going home to beautiful Nelson to see my parents and some other family, and a couple of good friends I have had the great pleasure and comfort to know since grade one. We also in our family had a high school graduation, a Confirmation and a wonderful play performance with our youngest in a starring role. The worst part has been a near incapacity to sit down and write.

This week I am recovering from a summer flu bug. I am able to sit and do things like crack the rest of the walnuts from last fall's harvest of our tree, cut up garlic scapes for blanching and freezing (a friend brought by a large bag of them from her farm), so at least a few things are getting done that need doing. The World Cup games, or Wimbledon, or a murder mystery on Netflix, or my son's violin and my daughter turning the pages of her book, are accompanying noises in the background as I accomplish these little tasks.

I am starting to go a bit stir-crazy with this lack of writing. I know this because I keep thinking about writing and wondering when I am going to feel able to get back into that wonderful rhythm I have enjoyed for several years now. Even my last blog post had been written a month prior to its posting. This is the first real slump I have had to endure in a long time. More than a slump it is a sort of rigid inability to turn my mind to the task. I won't call it writer's block because I know if I just sit down with only writing in mind I could start and something would come of it; that much I know after all these years. But, even as I write this collection of words and phrases I know it is just the tip of an iceberg I would really love to be able to get to the bottom of. At these times I feel like I am living on the periphery of the way I would like to be living - because to me, when I am writing well and often I am truly living.

I began to think of the reasons for my slump and came up with this list. Lists are somehow satisfying to make when one is trying to deal with a problem, so I made one.

Top Ten Reasons/Excuses Why I Can't Seem to Write

1. I am slightly ill.
2. My dad is seriously ill. He is the first person I think about when I wake up in the morning.
3. My kids are on summer holidays and I have to talk to them and sometimes take them places.
4. I can't seem to get up early these days (early hours are good writing hours), and I am exhausted after lunch (after lunch hours are also good writing hours).
5. My daughter has a driving test coming up in July and she has to learn to parallel park. This is stressful because I have to teach her a skill I almost never use.
6. I belong to an organic garden co-op and my fridge is half full of veggies that I have to use up before tomorrow when I will get another load of veggies. That's a lot of salad.
7. I keep thinking of things that are keeping me from writing instead of writing. When I don't put writing near the top of my list it easily slides down to the bottom. It's very slippery.
8. Facebook is way too engaging. Have you seen the video of the baby arguing with a bull dog? And all those worthy causes to care about: pipeline protests, teacher strikes, the kidnapping of Nigerian schoolgirls, the decimation of honey bees...
9. I have a compulsion to volunteer my time to do things for other people. I should develop a compulsion to smack myself for this.
10. Somehow, at the back of my mind, I am thinking this slump is okay and my writing will be better for it when it's over. I suppose I have accepted not writing, which could possibly be part of the problem. Or not. I don't know.

I do know I have to rise up out of this slump and start picking away at that iceberg. The first draft of my novel is nearly done. I must get it done before I lose track of it. Let this post be the beginning of my recovery. I have the will. May that be the way.


  1. I'm so sorry that your Dad is ill. Lots of hugs to you and your family.

    1. Thank you, Val. But when I went to see him I realized he has an incredible will to live. That was so good to see. xo

  2. I'm very sorry to hear about this difficult phase. The worry about your father will be taking up a lot of mental energy. Your physical energy will return I am sure but it's hard to keep the faith. I had glandular fever when young and never thought I'd be the same old me again. Write short paragraphs in short sentences when you can, to assuage the need to write. Take all the sleep you can.
    My parking skill was found wanting only yesterday. Oh dear. A long scrape, worse for me than for the other car. I put my number under the windscreen wiper and now wait for an irate phone call. In my defence I was harassed into the space by an aggressive Chelsea Tractor driver who came up behind me way too fast while I was lining myself up to park.

    1. Thank you, Lucille. I think I am getting through it now, though. I feel substantially better now but am protective of my sleep just in case!
      I am sorry about the scrape to your car. I hope the other person was just grateful that you left a note! I would be.


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