Thursday, June 21, 2007


As Dee's Jewish grandmother would say, Nobody ever said it was easy: they were right when they didn't say it!

What is this thing I'm suffering from? Writer's block? How can it be? How can I have writer's block when I barely consider myself a writer? A writer, self-evidently, is someone who writes. Me? I write sometimes.

Sometimes I manage to do the day (the endless, mindless tasks which must be done simply to make one day look like another; interspersed with the odd, unmissable moment of brilliance with Anna-mouse); sometimes I manage to get the child down; share some sort of coherent minutes with the Bim before he stumbles up to bed for another 4.30am wake-up; call my mother-who-is-in-chemotherapy; call a friend (very unlikely if I have got through to Esme); watch something mind-numbing on TV for long enough to induce a semblance of relaxation and then sometimes, just sometimes, make it up the stairs quietly enough not to wake husband or child, turn on the computer and write.

It's an exhausting business, not being a writer.

They say it's a process. I'm pissed off with the process. I want results. I want to know I can string more words together than the length of a post. I want to write a short story in two days, not two years. Above all, I want to snatch the gremlins from my person (they've recently been breeding and now a collection of ugly voices keeps a noisy, near-constant vigil on both shoulders), throw them at the wall and watch them die a slow and nasty death.

I resent that these creatures, these voices with impressive credentials, inhabit my world. I am angry with myself that they have such astonishing sway. Where do the negatives get in? At what point? What age? Do they come from just one source, one parent, or many such figures? Have I spent the day passing subtle, debilitating messages to my beautiful clean slate of a daughter? If I knew, I'd sell quite alot of my soul to protect her self-confidence from the slime of self-doubt sliding its suffocating message down the ages.

Tonight I want to silence my ancestors new and old. I want to act David to the Goliath, Family, which gives with one hand while the other sneaks round from behind until it has placed its gentle, fatal seal across the mouth. Let me speak! Let me speak! Let me say the unspeakable, project my voice into the darkness and be heard.

Of course I know, I do know, that the voices which hinder me are not real, though lately they may as well have been. I also know that, for some reason, in my - dare I say it - extremely talented clan it is fear of success which has frequently stumped us, not fear of failure. Laughable when it's told out loud, just like that, without a by-your-leave, don't you think? Lethal, too, when you combine it with the voices.

I remember a favourite maxim of mine: Leap, and the net will appear. Or, as in my case, the inter-net. Writing here for almost a year has indeed helped me to silence the voices. I can only imagine that the reason I feel like I'm wading through treacle in over-sized wellingtons every time I even so much as think of writing, lately, is perhaps because it has become that much nearer. The dream, I mean. The one where I get to write all the time, where my commitment becomes tangible and the results are paid for - for real.

I'm scared. But I'm driving myself crazy with this. I need to leap.


Debbie said...

Must be fear of success! You came to the edge with your blog, go ahead and jump!

merry weather said...

I think you have a lovely way with words. I came from sahd and was impressed with your description of 'In the Night Garden'. I get frustrated and confused trying to write too... :)

I like your blog and good luck with your day!

Cathy said...

Oh Livvy, I can relate to what you have written so well. I, too, am teetering on the edge of that dream. Time is a factor but so is motivation. You have the skills, you just need a helping hand to apply them, to motivate you towards the unknown.

Read other writer's blogs and you'll find they all have the same sort of fears. Join an online community such as WriteWords where you can share your work if you wish and where you will get a lot of moral support.

Take a deep breath and leap in. I'll hold your hand and jump with you.

Livvy U. said...

How brilliant is that, to sneak a few moments to look at my email this morning and to find not one, but three, warm and encouraging comment in response to my rant last night.

Debbie - you're right, you're right, did I say that you're right?!
Merry Weather - tell me that's not a pseudonym!! (Elsie Button isn't, so I'll believe anything!) - Thankyou very much for coming by, welcome and please come again. I'm about to pop around the corner to yours...
Cathy - funnily enough I thought about you as I wrote and thought you might be somewhere similar. Thankyou for wise words and sound advice. And for the offer of jumping buddy. I may well be taking you up on that.

Jan said...

I am skimming through stuff this pm but your posting here is wonderful.
So many folk will relate to you.

Sue said...

Oh Livvy you can so write. I marvelled at how you described planting flowers. I would have just said "I planted flowers today!"

Your writing is good because it stirs the imagination, so don't lose site of the dream, grab it!

Stay at home dad said...

Livvy, you can write alright. Don't take any notice of those ignorant voices. Look at all the junk out there - writing like yours will be widely appreciated.

Livvy U. said...

Dear Jan, Sue and SAHD - forgive me for addressing you together but I read all your comments at the same time - thankyou, dear unknown friends, thankyou for taking the time and trouble to write such supportive, complimentary words.

The net effect of all these comments is to push me on. As the song goes, I feel like I've picked myself up, dusted myself off, and can start all over again. Thank you. Really.

debio said...

At risk of repeating debbie (first comment above) it is the fear of success which causes failure. Look at the the Ladies tennis yesterday - British girl had Hengis on the rack - then froze. Play one point at a time...then they all add up. Also, could it be the thought of writing being worse than the actual? Just sit and write - write anything - we are reading!

Livvy U. said...

Debio - I am much inspired by your comment, I love the advice of one step/point/word at a time.

In fact I've been so helped by everyone's thoughts I'm going to print off this whole comments section and hang them near my desk as visual moral support!

merry weather said...

How are you doing today Livvy -I keep coming back to check :) Hope you're okay.... I was looking back into your blog, it's super - I've just printed out your recipe for a successful life to pin into my cupboard. Reminds me of Desiderata, but from a woman's point of view.... Good luck!

Marianne said...

That was a lot of writing from someone who's blocked. I'm quite in awe. You do write beautifully. I hope your dreams will come true.

Livvy U. said...

Dear Merry - You've absolutely made my night - I've never had anything I've written pinned to someone else's cupboard before!!
Thanks so much.

Dear Marianne - as with all the other comments, I thank you hugely for the vote of confidence. I had no idea writing this post would produce such a response!

Elsie Button said...

you write so brilliantly - i really look forward to new posts, and am sorry when they end...

i agree with Sue, you have a wonderful way with words... where i would just write down plain words!

anno domini said...

Writers' block - tell me about it! the bane of my life (to the extent that in my case it it 'non-writers' block), I've been writing (sorry - not writing) a children's novel on and off for ten years!!
When you sit down at the computer first you have to break through that I'm-No-Good barrier, that awful discouraging voice in your own head.
Have you tried using a little portable voice-recorder? Sometimes muttering into one of those is easier than staring at the screen.
Best Wishes, Livvy.

Livvy U. said...

Hello Elsie - so glad you think this
Hello a.d. - that sounds like a good idea, I might give that a try - though I do love the look of the words on the page, if you know what I mean.