June 2010 archive

The skies beckon

I’m about to enter the big silver bird and will not return for a couple of weeks – hopefully.

In the meantime I’d like to introduce you to Christina Houen’s blog. Christina is a good friend and writer who lives on the western side of Australia.

Our friendship has been conducted by correspondence mostly. We help one another in our writerly endeavours, though I’m usually the one who comes off with more than her fair share.

Christina is an excellent writer and literary critic. And if ever you need good editing work, Christina’s your woman.

Bye for now.

My computer weary hands

There is an autumn leaf caught in a spider’s web in one corner of my writing room window near the outside ledge. I wonder how long it will stay there. Until the next gust of wind tears it away, until someone opens the window and forces it from its sticky moorings or later still when it has disintegrated and turned into lace ready to fall back down to earth, dust to dust.

I had so much wanted to write this morning and now I am here ideas evade me, and words refuse to come.

Perhaps I am ready for a break. Writing has become too much like housework. I do it everyday and like housework it comes back again the next day even more insistent than the day before and with the same relentless, ruthless, unending quality. Rarely do I reach a stage when I can say well at last this is finished, this is good. This will stand the test of time.

Most of my writing at the moment feels like the autumn leaf caught in the spider’s web outside my window. It hangs there, a leaf torn from a tree, a leaf close to the end of its life, a leaf that no longer serves a purpose other than to disintegrate and join the earth’s surface, a layer of dust, like my writing, a layer of words.

There’s a hole in my cardigan that needs stitching but I cannot be bothered finding needle and thread. Such a simple task and yet it remains like so many others – unfinished.

I have lost my sense of momentum. These days, tasks rise up for attention and I look away. I put off what was once an imperative till another day when it can no longer wait.

Why can I not settle into the business of completion, of housework, PhD, house renovations, writing?

Things I once embraced I push aside.

Is it a stage of my life, like the autumn leaf on my windowsill?
Have I lost my tenacity?
When did it start?

If I were to sit face to face with a listener I would say that I have lost my grip, that I have lost energy. I once had energy to get on and complete the tasks at hand.

I am not sure when it began, this downward trend, this energy less state, this wish to escape into isolation and comfort.

My memories lose their translucence, their conviction. I begin to doubt the certainty of my grip on the past.

Once I begin to write down a memory it shifts and sways. It loses the clarity it once possessed when held firmly in my mind and then takes on the clarity of the written word. It slips from me and onto the page and no longer feels to be mine.

I have leached out so many memories over these last several years that I begin to doubt my memory of myself. Have I explored too many memories now to believe them anymore?

Once I have written about an event I find I no longer have the impetus or desire to record that event again. It feels old and stale. It loses its guts. The clash between the way I imagine things might be and the way they are leaves me empty and listless.

I remember such times when I enrolled for a course through the mail – fifty piano lessons at a set price at the end of which I would be able to play stock standard favourites for family and friends. I found it advertised in the Reader’s Digest.

I had stopped learning the piano after only one year of lessons at school as a ten year old. I resented the way I had needed to practice after school when I could have been outside playing with my sister and my mother had better things to do with her money if I was not going to attend to my practice.

I dropped out of learning to play the piano but the image of myself as a concert pianist remained. In the advertisement the offer to get to this fantasy without any exertion beckoned.

My mother agreed, as long as we spread the lessons over time, so that she should not have to spend too much money too soon and I could prove myself by sticking to the practice.

The pages arrived. Pages of instruction, followed by pages of notes on paper, no different from the notes in my preliminary piano lesson book. I could not trouble myself with the tedium of reading through such instructions, if it did not happen by magic it would not happen at all.

Years later when we had been forced by circumstance to leave home and go into boarding school my mother told me she had finally paid off the last of my lessons. The contract meant that she could not evade the fees even if I did not use the opportunity.

And so it goes. Another opportunity wasted.

But I was young then. The worst years of my life were the years of my adolescence and beyond into early adulthood. Those were the years when I wanted nothing but for time to pass, that I cared only about the appearance of things, when I longed for love and in its absence contented myself with getting by.

Why was I not more dedicated then, why not more dedicated now?

In a few days we leave for England. Whether I want it or not, I will have a break from my writing. I will give my computer weary hands a rest from typing out words. I hope to come back refreshed and full of energy, enough to take a new tack in this blog.

I leave on 25 June for two weeks. I will most likely not post again until my return, but I’ll float around the blogosphere for the next six days and then take my leave.

Good wishes to you all.

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