Cheap Tricks and Small Mercies

This week I have come face to face with this writing life, which is to be mine for the next year.  Writing, not writing, procrastinating, writing some more, getting distracted, coming back.  I am coming to realise that there is never going to be a grand solution which will radically change the way that I work (and think) I am coming to realise that this is it.  Maybe this is what my PhD will give me in the end – this coming to terms with myself and what i (can’t) do. I have been doing the free writing everyday and really getting into it.  Especially because there is so much going on right now – personally, emotionally, work-wise.

Julia Cameron’s writings are so consoling and refreshing.  I carry around a small book of essays called “The Right to Write” almost as a talisman.  When i am feeling really shitty I can fish one out.  I think the essays are performative in that she is saying “just write” and you can feel from the fresh roughness of her own writing that that is exactly what she is doing.  Sometimes it seems that a phrase doesn’t quite jive and that just makes the writing more lively.

2 essays in particular have been lingering in my mind: one called “cheap tricks” and another about “loneliness”.  In cheap tricks she describes how she deals with resistance to writing with “tricks” like calling a friend to support her, going on a coffee date, bribing herself with a yearned-for treat. What I got from it is that she will be ruthless and relentless in her desire to write, and do whatever it takes, even if it is ‘cheap’. She hints that there is nothing noble about writing, and the urge to write isn’t constant or in-born.  It is cultivated.  I like that!  Also the dailiness of it feels so relevant for me.  One day I will be spilling ideas like beans, my mind sharp like a knife.  The next day I will be sluggish and slow and kind of misty.  Those days, each days need a different strategy.

The other one, about loneliness is something I am thinking about a lot.  I am so scared of being lonely.  Since as long as I can remember but especially since junior school when my lack of popularity meant I was often alone watching a video at home on a friday, utterly miserable at being left out from the parties and soccer games I knew my classmates around the block were hatching.  That sting, the shame of being out the loop has never left me even though I am now 30!

Writing can be so solitary and I rail against that.  I also realised that I am terrified of being left alone with my racing thoughts, with this energy inside me which can so often turn to bad.  These thoughts which can go obsessive in a second, turning and turning over old regrets, new irritations, wishes and hankerings.  This weekend I tried being there more with myself, and whatever i am thinking.  It wasn’t so bad.  I realised that these thoughts are very transitive, and easily distracted into something more pleasant.  I also realised that in my writing I have a constant friend and eavesdropper on this wild mind.  My writing will always understand.

Now it is the end of the weekend, and i have read some articles, written 1000 words, cleaned the drain, sorted the lounge, made a letter box, baked scones and coffee, worked under a big old tree, worked in the cool library, written an e-mail to a long-lost friend, washed loads of clothes and dishes and put up some colourful posters.

Now back to the library, and to lure me out the house a cool sorbet on the way.


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