Saturday, 7 July 2007

write and be damned - or at the very least - a bit fed up - Oh and Shopping!

Creativity. It can be such a slippery rascal. We speak in metaphors about muses. About ideas 'coming to us from elsewhere' like butterflies to be captured in our nets of ink, lest they should escape and become the muse of someone else. That's a nice thought. That ideas float by us all the time, and all we have to do is reach out and grab one, and pin it down beneath the glass for all the world to marvel at.


It takes me hours of sitting to get anywhere at all, and even then it is more like mining. I have to descend into the pits of despair and grapple in the darkness for as long as it takes to feel the sharp sting of something. I have to crawl along the narrow passage-ways of my own making, skinning my knees and ripping the flesh from my aching fingers as they tear at the rock face in search of a single gemstone.


Even when I find one (which I occasionally do), then it is so raw, so filthy that I have to then try to clean it up. Polish it. Cut it so that it catches the light just right. And taking great care not to smash it to smithereens by accident.

Writing is a bit hard methinks. I think Joseph Conrad puts it beautifully in one of his letters, reproduced here from Tillie Olsen's Silences.

I sit down religiously every morning, I sit down for eight hours, and the sitting down is all. In the course of that working day of eight hours I write three sentences which I will erase before leaving the table in despair. Sometimes it takes all of my resolution and power of self control to refrain from butting my head against the wall. After such crises of despair I doze for hours, still held conscious that there is that story that I am unable to write. Then I wake up, try again, and at last go to bed completely done up. So the days pass and nothing is done. At night I sleep. In the morning I get up with that horror of that powerlessness I must face through a day of vain efforts...

Conrad goes on about how the story haunts his every waking moment. That he can hear it narrated to him but he cannot get it down on paper. I get that a lot. It's like some cruel bloody creative joke - the kind of - here it is but bet you can't get it down in time! Conrad writes;

They [the ideas and words] creep about in my head and have got to be caught and tortured into some kind of shape.

So today I sat in front of the pc for a few hours watching the thoughts go by with respect to my novel. Eventually I was able to begin writing and got a few hundred words down. And then the teenager walked in and stood behind me. (Oh God I Hate That!). And read over my shoulder at which the ideas and the words fled like terrified mice. And then she said, "Please can I have a lift to X's house?" and that was that. Pinning down of words over for the day, because after the lift it was time to get the little one from Nan's house, so I gave up.

* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *
So I went shopping with Chilli instead, and we bought lots of pants. Because pants are good.
We also got changed in the corridor outside of the changing rooms so that we could compare notes, and bottoms, as you do. We remember the days of the Communal Changing Room you see, when there was space to move about no matter how big your bum got!
Chilli also made cinnamon and apple muffins which were absolutely gorgeous - so scrumptious I ate three and am now much heavier. But happily so. Cinnamon is my favouritist flavour in the whole world!
* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *
I just shared Conrad's thoughts on writing with my husband who now thinks I am mad. "It's not a very good advert for the job, is it?" he said. What could I say? I didn't choose writing, I said. Writing chose me.
If I cease blogging it's because he's called the men/women/people in white coats for me.
Still Smoke free :) *Smug - Very Smug!*


Chilli said...

It was a good afternoon...even if it didn't help your word count. But everybody needs time out and you definitely needed that :-))

More tea and muffins in the week then?


hesitant scribe said...

Oh yes yes yes yes yes!

More muffins is an offer I just cannot refuse!

Jen said...

Mmmm, cinnamon should be on prescription, it really is heavenly and surely cures all miseries?

This is SUCH a good post - explains more articulately than I could ever put it just what I imagine Virginia Woolf meant by searching for those "Diamonds in the dust heap".

You can do it. I really think you can. REALLY!

hesitant scribe said...

Thanks Jen. It's great to have some encouragement! I don't want to be that nearly writer that Caroline talks of! To be an old woman saying, "I nearly wrote a novel you know!"

So we'll keep on digging eh! And we'll try not to be quite as miserable as Virginia! ;-)

Jen said...

She'd have been okif she'd had more cinnamon!

You know what? being that 'nearly' writer would be awful. And a shame.

It's kind of nice to know that we're not digging alone.


Jon M said...

Smoke free is super dooper but why don't you try writing in your bedroom instead of going underground to do it? Its more comfy there and you can have a snooze too!

I hid in the bedroom today to hide from my four noisiest darlings and got loads done!

hesitant scribe said...

Jen - it is good to know we aren't alone, I heartily agree!

Jon - Hubby got to the bedroom first! He chose the snoozing option funnily enough. I tried the laundry basket, my mother's wardrobe, and my littlun's rather messy bedroom, and do you know, I found no words at all.

Loads of stuff duly arrived the moment I sat down to plan next week's teaching!

Absolute Vanilla... (& Atyllah) said...

oh lord, does this mean I'm not a real writer? Ideas chase me down the street - actually, not true, they haunt my dreams and harass me in the shower... and I don't suffer angst, just procrastination... which means oh yes, shopping can be sooo much more fun - bum size irrespective.

hesitant scribe said...

Absolute - no not at all!

I don't have any problems with ideas either... it's the getting them down on paper. Something seems to happen between the narrative in my head, and the putting down onto the page. That's the awful bit. The digging out. I have to dig them out of my head. Oh dear. Am I making any sense?!

I met Tob Litt not so long ago and he is one of those writers who positively thrives on writing - loves it - enjoys it - the works! I'd say consider yourself one of the lucky ones, and that I hope my post is useful to the tormented writers out there.

Maybe we're just too damned serious about it! Maybe I should try a week of writing under a different name - like Toby suggests - so that if it is sh*t, I can blame my pseudonym!!!

Caroline said...

Oh my! I've started you all off on the nearly woman thingy!

I should start a facebook group ;-)

But it is true isn't it???? I don't want to speak tales of things that I nearly did. I nearly did lots of things ... but sometimes we need to actually do those things that make us shiver. The doing and not nearly doing should drive and not scare. For me it was the writing of a novel - not publication - the writing. I wanted to see if I could write a novel.

You go girlies. Being nearly is soooooooo not the way to be.

I was nearly a size 10 once.

hesitant scribe said...

Caroline - so true. I have a life filled with nearlies.

When I was a youngster, I was nearly an athlete but chose not to run in the final 400m. My replacement came 2nd and was not as fast as me.

At 18, I was nearly in a band but bottled out a week before the first gig.

I was nearly a black belt in Goju Ryu but gave that up.

I gave a lot of things up through fear. So you are right Caroline. That the doing should drive. I've been scared for most of my life. Of failure. It has taken me 37 years to realise that failure is in not doing.

So er.. will keep going!

And am nearly a size 10 again too!

And please don't start a facebook group - I can only just about keep up with the blogs *all curled up in a little ball of angst at the thought of more 'places' to check!*

Rebecca said...

I've got the same problem...great difficulty in getting anything actually written with any kind of consistency! But I've just joined an online 70 day writing challenge (kinda like nanowrimo)where you have to commit to writing a cartain amount.

It's working so far - I wrote over 1200 words yesterday and 800 today (so far). I don't care if it's crap - I'll fix it later - but it helps to get into some kind of writing routine (the kind where words actually get written - not the kind where you stare blankly at the computer screen waiting for that PERFECT phrase or idea or scene..which is my usual MO)

Anyway, I agree, writing is torture!

Mihir said...

Whispers in the ether!
pretty cool blog!
keep writing!

hesitant scribe said...

Rebecca - fabulous amounts of wordage there! I joined the novel race for the self same reason only the steam ran out a bit, or maybe life got in the way, or was it teaching commitments...

What ever it was, I am still nudging the word count on, hating the seeming lack of quality, and getting majorly stressed out when offspring come and hover behind me waiting for lifts hither and thither, or hubby shouting, "what's for lunch?!" (even though he swears he means what shall we have for lunch? and not are you making it?. I am now working to a deadline of

the whole thing by October...

and am finding that is helping to shift my wordage quite well!

Mihir - thanks for popping in, and glad you like it here!