Not Going To Do It

I’ve been writing this blog regularly for six months. For six months the ideas have been flowing – like turning on a tap and finding water.  It’s been eerily effortless. I’ve felt confidently creative. Pleasantly productive.  I’ve been taking it for granted.

Until now.

I had a crazy, busy weekend, full of celebration and story, but when I thought about writing Monday’s blog, my mind drew a blank. My faucet sputtered and gulped. Obstructed by air in the pipes, I confronted manic bursts of feeling, but no free flowing, inspirational thoughts or words.

So I paused.

In the past I might have panicked.

In the past I have retreated, sometimes for years at a time. I have become a bear, addicted to hibernating my ideas, restricting them from light, killing them off with dreary dampness. I came to rely on the dangerous safety of defining myself as ‘creatively blocked’. It felt so much more manageable than rousing my soul and tentatively crawling out into the open air. I was possibility adverse. A quiet sulk always seemed a better option.

But when the water didn’t flow this week, I simply gave myself a break. I didn’t write. I slept a bit longer. I tried to ignore the vitriolic voice within – the nasty naysayer who was filing her horribly long nails and muttering, “Don’t flatter yourself. You’re most likely boring everyone silly. They’ll be relieved to not get another tedious email from you.”

And then I heard from a friend late last night, “I noticed you didn’t post anything today – Monday being your day…I always look forward to it.”

It was straightforward. Honest. Resonant. I paid attention. I took my finger off the PAUSE button and I pressed PLAY instead.

I’m grateful to my friend for nudging me. I’m grateful that I’ve learned to reflect and respond rather than only reacting and running. It’s all too easy to imagine ourselves irrelevant when we encounter the slightest hurdle.  This happens in every area of our lives. We adopt a position of defence. For me that position was clinging to a musty blanket in the corner of my cave.

No more.

If you’re hovering in a creative netherworld I hope that these posts can provide a chink of light.  It has taken me three times longer than usual to write this! But I’ve become stubborn. I’m not going to return to my default position. I’m resisting the pull.

There’s a comfortable log just outside the entrance of my cave. It’s under a tall Robinia tree with kindly spreading branches and delicate lime green leaves. I’m sitting there for now. I’m listening to my breath. I’m lulling words from thin air.

Come and say hello?

Choices: Write for ten minutes using the word ‘cave’ as a springboard or share a story of struggling with a creative obstacle. It  feels good to share experiences. I’m listening….


12 Responses to “Not Going To Do It”

  1. TT
    June 5, 2012 at 5:54 pm #

    I’m write there with you (excuse the pun). Thanks for the push – I needed it too 🙂

  2. Kimberly O'Hara
    June 5, 2012 at 7:37 pm #

    I call it the “I don’t exist anymore” syndrome. At one point in time I am a breathless fireball with writing deadlines and not enough time to organize all the creative compartments I have open, rushing from writing class to a meeting, rising at dawn to squeeze in a couple extra hours of writing undisturbed by offspring, woeful friends or technology. I seem in this time to have a complete and total handle on my “to do” lists. I can look at what at one other time might have appeared vital and determine “more craft paper for the kids’ art cabinet” cannot sway my creative burst. I am resolute with my time, yet have the confidence that my family and friends, although more rebuffed than usual, are fully intact and not harmed by my writing determination. Then poof. It all goes away like a dream. Like a far away dream when it was only six days ago. Suddenly I have no more deadlines, no more classes and a blank page ready to start the next creative burst, and I can’t justify in my mind waking at 5 AM to sit and stare at the blinking cursor. In fact I don’t know where to go with the blank page, the fresh slate, the new beginning, so I return broken blenders to Amazon, I go to Bed Bath and Beyond not once but twice in one week, the to do lists grow and suddenly my children appear to be these unattended ruffians. How did I left their nails get so long? They need haircuts and are their clothes actually soiled? What writing mother is to blame for this? I am suddenly too hyper aware about domesticity of life that was clearly ticking along just fine before I got too much time on my hands because I should be sitting down and goddamn writing! It is a hard road every time you have to start a new creative process. The good the bad and the ugly rears its head to defeat you and distract you and guilt you into doing anything that will re-plunge you again into that consuming blissful state of creation. But I tell you what can and does get easier. The vigilance each time knowing that when that new idea springs, when you finally flesh out your next story and type Fade In:, you will be off and running. You will know you battled the mall conflicted that you should be writing to get those white flats “for when you are really too busy to shop”, and you’ve ordered the night face creme so while you are writing furiously day and night you won’t wrinkle, and your kids’ hair is cut and their nutrition has been fully over the top balanced. You dive in with fierce resolve to be left alone to hammer out a character or edit a scene. And each time, I get better and better at seamlessly weaving my real life with my fictional lives. Each time I stop and restart, the gap is smaller, I have more humor, I am more forgiving of myself. I say this with such confidence, I almost feel like it’s a tiny lie. But for this purpose right now today, writing this blog, my first writing of the day, I can say I am sure this is the truth. I don’t know what the hell I will feel tomorrow.

    • Rory Green
      June 7, 2012 at 9:31 pm #

      Thank you for sharing this rich stream of consciousness. Very relatable…

  3. Melissa
    June 6, 2012 at 12:46 am #

    When struggling creatively, I feel a tug-of-war, it goes like this: internal-external-internal-external-internal-external. Do I need to hibernate and inhabit my own thoughts? Do I need to step outside and smell the wood after the rain? Is it enough to create and make something I’m happy with, I’m proud of? Or does the work only come into existence when I’ve shared it with someone else? Back and forth, sitting (wobbling, really) on the fence, at the threshold of the cave between dark and light, retreat and exposure. Internal-external-internal-external….Thanks for quiet log to sit on and watch these thoughts.

    • Rory Green
      June 7, 2012 at 9:33 pm #

      You are most welcome, Melissa! Thank you for sharing your wobbly moments so eloquently…

  4. Ellis
    June 6, 2012 at 7:57 am #

    No, no! People do read, don’t stop.

    They say the past is another country but they should add that we were different people when we lived there. This was 60 years ago and I cannot remember at all why I wanted to visit cave-dwellers, troglodytes they called them. I was definitely another person then and I suspect that, at that age, I was looking at alternative ways to live a life.

    The troglodytes lived somewhere south of the Atlas Mountains, in holes rather than my idea of caves, and I stood there unsure what to do next.

    “Do go down and have a look.” A man said, politely, in French as, six decades ago, it was the colonial language that everyone of a certain education spoke. I said that I did not want to intrude as, though a cave, it was still someone’s house.

    “Do not worry” he said “it is only the post office!”

    People were going in and out so I followed. It was a large, busy caves, as caves go I suppose, and somewhat crowded with a counter at the far end where they sold stamps.

    For some years I continued to visit people with unexpected habitations like those who lived on floating islands in houses made of reeds but, in time, I stopped. It must have been when I understood that alternative lives are in the mind rather than the place as there are post offices everywhere.

    I suspect that must have been when I became myself.


    • Rory Green
      June 7, 2012 at 9:35 pm #

      What a wonderful anecdote! I love the idea of the cave dwellers post office!

  5. Barbara
    June 7, 2012 at 11:50 am #

    I have a habit of either reading things from back to front (as in the case of magazines) or not reading things all the way through, which in the case of recipes has led to an occasional cooking challenge! Always short on time, I read the first few lines of this post and then read the prompt: write for 10 minutes using the word “cave.” From that I surmised that “cave” wasn’t referring to a safe, protective lair of retreat, but rather to the verb “to cave” as in caving in. In this case, caving in to the impulse not to write because so many other things are piling up on my proverbial plate. It’s a little game I play with myself. Saving my time to write as a treat for when the mood strikes. But as we know, “mood” is a fickle friend. I’m going to try and hold on to this gentle nudge to keep me on track. Thanks for making room under your tree. How nice it feels to step out of my cave and bask in the warm light.

    • Rory Green
      June 7, 2012 at 9:36 pm #

      I’m pleased that you kept reading, Barbara! Always lovely to see you here and you are welcome to join me under my tree – any time!!!

  6. Jen
    June 7, 2012 at 11:52 am #

    Four chambers pumping blood. Deep within this cave of secrets I dwell. Some days, bright, red butterflies flitter about with love and joy. They usually greet my search and welcoming down further. Armed with light from within, I dig deeper. I peer into the tunnels. Should I go this way or that?

    Some tunnels are blocked by massive stone. Not for today. Others invite me in, begging for more exploration. I see drawings on the wall of days gone past. Little bugs crawl out of crevices demanding a second look. I look. I see the slimy things and think, “Gross. That’s what’s in here?”. I see the drawings and let out a happy sigh. I dig deeper.

    My light waxes and wanes. Veins of crystal sparkle through rock. Moments of bliss, my good-ness, my love for self and others. I call out -but really from within – to see what I can seduce into emerging.

    Bats. Flying around in every direction. The fast, black creatures flap up the dust, the cobwebs, the grief, the darkness within. All gone now, I head in further.

    I hear it. Splash. Splash. A luminous waterfall. Trickling water that flows in with a gush. My humanness. I must explore more often.

    • Rory Green
      June 7, 2012 at 9:38 pm #

      I feel as if I am journeying through that cave with you, Jen. Such wonderfully descriptive imagery… thank you for painting such a vivid picture…

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