May 15, 2013 by alie
I know, I know. It’s been a while. It’s not that I haven’t had anything to say, it’s just that about 8 months ago I lost the means to say it. I’ve been able to churn out a few articles by smashing my palms onto a keyboard, but things have been pretty quiet on the poetry front. Usually the sketch of a poem, or an article is formed in the back of my mind somewhere, almost as a by-product of being a person. The poem lies quiet, waiting until I try to sleep, before becoming manifest. It’s like a flasher in a trench coat, leaping out of the bushes and revealing itself. A year ago that part of my mind fell silent.
At first I blamed the problem on my medication. It definitely deserves partial blame. It turned my brain into a bubble of serotonin, which was great for a while. I have an image of a little guy in undies and a cape running around my skull with a light saber. He leaps about deflecting all negative thoughts before covering my brain with his cape and patting it gently. The problem is, it’s like I woke up one day and realised the cape wasn’t comforting, but smothering me. Suddenly the little guy in his undies was holding it down, muffling any sounds. Not only did the meds cause a mental block, but it brought its friend insomnia along with it. This was probably judgement for thinking that insomnia was a made up illness. Suddenly I was lying in bed all night watching the light change from under my curtains. Insomnia I can deal with if I have to. When it was down to having insomnia or being as stressed out and crazy as I am off the drugs, I chose insomnia; but when I realised I was also choosing between stressedout/crazy and writer’s block, I chose stressedout/crazy.
Before coming off the meds I thought I might be able to push through it. I sat down and tried to force myself to write something, to make words get in a line against their will. The result was a tremendously dull three sentences. Eventually I gave up. My notebooks lay abandoned, people noticed their pens stopped going missing. Squeezing poetry out of my brain was akin to wringing a stone, expecting water. It was like mental constipation. Seriously.
Now I’m hiding from the ridiculous wind in Boon Brother’s with a heavily sugared long black, thinking perhaps everything is coming back to normal. Slowly my words have come trickling back, like milk running over dry bones, but something else was stopping me from doing any real work. Around the same time as I went on the meds, I decided that being a writer was What I Wanted To Do, and set my sights on the creative writing course at IIML, into which 12 people are admitted annually. Because I’m stubborn I determined that no other course would do. Suddenly writing wasn’t just something that happens on napkins and the back of receipts. There is a standard I have to meet now. Reading the work of people Who’ve Made It became an exercise in comparison. Writing became a process of either naming myself king of literature and preparing my Man Booker speech, or thinking perhaps I should cast myself into a pit for the talentless. Now it’s not just a hobby, or my way of expressing myself that is threatened by comparison but my life goals.
It was this habit of comparison that stopped me writing, even after the little guy in his undies left. I was worried that if I sat down to write I might find that I didn’t know how. If I never wrote anything I could maintain the illusion that what I did write was good. The only way to destroy that illusion was to write and be bad at it. I suppose there is a danger in wanting something. Desire is a breeding ground for dissapointment. The trick, I suppose, is to be your own lightsabered man. I won’t give this one a cape, and I doubt he’ll sound the death knell for self-doubt, but maybe he can remind me every now and then to keep writing, and not let comparison or fear of failure take me out.
Now I have to write an essay. You’ve distracted me long enough, blog!