Nota bene: why do people insist on victimizing themselves or the group they perceive themselves to be a part of, even to the point of blindly only looking for proof of their assumptions – instead of just rightfully claiming their own existence and brilliance? ‘Kay, I think I already kind of answered my own question. Onward.
Where is my mind and is this what writer’s block is like?
I posted this piece on my newsletter yesterday, even though I wasn’t sure if should put it there, or on my blog. But then I got an idea (finally) of what I wanted to do with these two – blog and newsletter – so then I moved it here anyway. Stay tuned for more updates/changes…
Okay, so this is what I wrote:
My mind is locked today. Unreachable, access unattainable, wholly out of order. Work was a struggle, my poetry was just… bleh. Work at the very least is something I can do, I know how to do. And poetry is usually something that helps me, resets me, takes my mind off of things and opens it up.
Not today though. Nothing worked, thoughts didn’t come. And I needed thoughts. Ideas to kick around, to balance on my toes, to bump off my admittedly rather large (and getting increasingly larger, until there’s nothing but) forehead, to heel skillfully into the net, until their deflated leftovers were the only proof that some work had actually been done.
So, I just took that as my starting point for this post. Genius, ain’t it? I thought so. Too bad I can’t take credit for this course of action, because so many writers before me (hah, see what I did there?) have already said that that is the way to go if one is at where I am at today. Yes. Like somebody, somewhere, once, sort of said (okay, it was Charles Bukowski and this is apparently an actual quote): “Writing about a writer’s block is better than not writing at all.”
And there we are. Or, here I am (trying to not be too presumptuous). I thought I’d have a go at saying what I think about the infamous ‘writer’s block’.
I don’t believe in that whole ‘just work through it’ attitude. I mean, I had one of those days today in which nothing went the way I wanted it to go. That goes for what I wanted to do for my day job (I am working on a proposal) as well as for my writing. My brain could just not reach the things I needed, even though I got up early, was ready, had my coffee, and there weren’t any distractions in the sense that there was other stuff I needed to deal with.
Ideal circumstances, I thought. Yet I had a really hard time producing anything that could form some sound foundation on which I could go further in days to come. Don’t get me wrong, I managed to put some words in, some beginnings are there, but not nearly as many as I had hoped.
So it is not so much writer’s block, but more like a thinking block. It affects my work as well as my writing. I want to go somewhere but, yes, there is a blockage there that prevents me from seeing the road ahead, let alone seeing my end goal. I know, there are some techniques that I can use in preparation for the actual work, but that is the point: I didn’t start yet with what what I needed to do, not really. And I don’t want to just put in words, that to me is not writing. It has to be purposeful, intentional and going somewhere.
In the end, I mean, right now, I feel I did accomplish something today after all. I found that little hook I needed to draw in some writing on. And that was what this was about for me anyway. Great. Tomorrow has to go swimmingly after a day like this. Right?
Links on music and writing
Some stuff I read today when I couldn’t get my brain jump-started.
About Haruki Murakami… ‘Kafka on the shore’ was the first one I read of him and it is pretty special to me. I was really into the atmosphere that Murakami manages to put into his storytelling. Murakami’s ‘Men without women’ I read on the plane, when we were flying back from Indonesia in 2019. I bought it at the airport in Jakarta and I just blazed through it. When we touched ground again in Amsterdam, about 14 hours after takeoff, I was almost done with it.
And while I was watching the Yann Martel interview about ‘Life of Pi’ I link to in the list above, I was thinking… this could actually be a book that I could read again. – Immediately followed by: hold on, I also still have to read his ‘Beatrice and Virgil‘, that is lying around here somewhere.
When I started thinking about other books that I could add to my list, in my mind I went back to books that I read in my… erm… youth, and that I know I really liked:
I know I loved those books, but when I try to remember what they were about, I just have vague recollections, not an outlined idea of what their stories were really about. So, perhaps I should start rereading some of them. Why read something, love it, and then lose the plot right after? (Erm… Yes.)
A question then came up. Why did those stories not stick with me?
I think it had to do with my age and with the way I gave attention back then. I have always tried to get my hands and eyes on as much information and influences as I can. And I still do. The internet is great for that and I have a hunger for it. I don’t consider it a bad thing. But sometimes it has to be focused, reigned in again, you know? Shout “Whoa boy, calm down!” and meanwhile pull down hard, something like that.
The slower I go (read: the older I get) and the more I become conscious of my surroundings, the more I can appreciate the value of certain things that, when I was young, I would have passed without noticing. I’m also pretty sure that I miss a lot of things that my younger self would have noticed without noticing it.
It is what it is.
Hey! It’s Friday again! Who’d have thought? (God, I can ramble sometimes.) My son has just made us some nice coffee and brought me a big mug of it, and my wife just called to tell me she can probably finish work early today. Yesss…
After I had a crap week with working, dealing with legal crap, tax crap and made a crappy visit to the dentist to fix some cavities, we went out for a nice weekend away at The Hague. No dining out, of course, we had to bring takeout to our hotel room, but at least we got to get out of the house.
On Saturday we got up early (-ish), got into our car and drove to The Hague, checked in at our hotel and dropped off our luggage, and then went to the Westfield Mall in nearby Leidschendam. We visited a bunch of stores there that we’d made appointments for. (The only way to visit stores in the Netherlands right now, is by appointment.)
After dinner we rented some bikes and made a nice bike ride from the hotel to the nearby beach. It was cold and windy, but still awesome. We saw some surfers and kite surfers and people fishing, but it was not crowded at all.
The next morning I picked up our Easter breakfast at the reception desk, which we enjoyed at our room, and then we packed up and went home again.
It was nice to be able to go somewhere else for a change, to leave the house, even with all the restrictions.
And now? Back to work, while hail and snow are dancing around our house.
The last few days, no, weeks even, I wasn’t writing. Not really. I was fucking around with Twitter, WordPress, reading about writers and poets, watching YouTube, reading blog posts, or rather, looking for blog posts. And I saw a lot of great stuff but also a lot of bullshit. What I wasn’t doing was really reading and writing. Sitting down and focusing. And my mind wasn’t happy. I felt suffocated, nauseous and tired.
The stupid thing is, as soon as I step away from those blasted screens — like earlier today, when I was making dinner for my daughter and me — my mind starts wandering, starts talking. To you, to me. My brain is stepping out, having conversations with the world without me.
And then I start making notes, afraid I will miss the conversation that is going on right now.