And now if you’ll excuse me, I have to go and break the mister’s wii fit record

25 Apr

I was picking up the boys from school on Thursday, having myself spent another day mindlessly flicking back and forth between facebook, twitter and wii fit. The boys wanted to have a ‘quick play’ on the playground before we went home, so I said yes, and then thought maybe I could use this time to write something. The day didn’t have to be a complete write off.

So, sitting rather unsociably on the seat furthest from the playground, using the middle pages of my eldest boy’s spelling book and a lead pencil my eldest boy’s friend had found under my seat and handed to me, I started writing. Using the free write method, I was on the same old thing. ‘I’m not writing because…’.

It was easy to write like this. My mind is fragile and easily convinced of my failings, and the reasons to not write are many, even when a mind is strong. The reasons I’m not writing are easily identified, because even if they are complex, they are all variations on a simple theme. I’m not good enough. They multiply and intensify and their darkness is seductive.

But in this hour, I was determined. I’m sick of the wallowing, and I need somehow to move on (if for no other reason than that I have a scary, scary deadline approaching, a deadline which I tangled myself into, hoping that it would work it’s deadline magic and make not-writing worse than writing, but that magic is, for the first time ever, failing me). I kept scratching away. The spelling book was a little unwieldy on my lap, but the pencil was lovely and sharp and the afternoon’s seabreeze had found it’s way to me.

I never feel bad when I can smell a seabreeze.

Try something different, I managed to tell myself. You know why you’re not writing. But what about asking, Why do I write?

And halfway down the first page, I wrote this: ‘I write for the moment when I make a connection between what I feel and what I have said’. And I remembered very clearly the moment when I wrote this and this, and the satisfaction – the depth of the satisfaction – of getting it just so. Such moments are few and far between, but they are there and I remembered them.

I know how ridiculous this will seem, but seeing that written on the page, and remembering those moments, I cried. I imagine I was crying for all manner of reasons, but predominantly, I think I was crying with relief. The relief that it would be worth it in the end. Without wanting to get all Dr Phil, it seems to me that by constantly examining the things that are stopping me – even if I have been trying to examine them in a ‘positive-so-what-can-I-do-about-them way’ – I have been entrenching rather than shifting them.

At the same time, while I’ve been doing all this internal soul-searching, I have never pushed – really pushed – myself to get to the bottom of why I write. Certainly, I have listed the good things about writing, but I see now that I’ve only included the good things which have a flipside. A ‘yes, but’. For example, I write because it made my Dad proud…yes, but…you’re not very good, if he could see you now. And so on.

I needed to push on to the reason which has no ‘yes, but’, which can’t be argued with. I suppose – but I haven’t thought about this too much yet – that I had to find a reason that didn’t rely on someone else’s opinion of me or of what I do. I had to find a reason that relied only on my opinion of myself.

I was crying because I was glad I had found that reason.

I do know that in some respects this whole conversation is tortured wank. I mean, really. Just get on with it already. I know that there are plenty of people with plenty of bigger problems than mine. I know that. But at the same time, this is just part of it. Grieving minds do ask, What’s the point? And it’s important to answer them.

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9 Responses to “And now if you’ll excuse me, I have to go and break the mister’s wii fit record”

  1. mary April 25, 2009 at 2:50 pm #

    Yes yes and yes again.

    Not tortured wank. Yet another example of someone wrestling with themselves and coming to their own truth.

    Go easy on yourself. Let the writing surface as it will from what is true for you.

  2. Zoe April 26, 2009 at 2:27 am #

    It might sound like a tortured wank if your writing was crappy. Fortunately for us all, it’s not.

    And these Dr Phil moments ARE WHAT LIFE IS ALL ABOUT GODDAMIT!

  3. Deborah April 26, 2009 at 3:25 am #

    Do you know the sonnet by Gerald Manley Hopkins, “No worst, there is none“?

    O the mind, mind has mountains; cliffs of fall
    Frightful, sheer, no-man-fathomed. Hold them cheap
    May who ne’er hung there.

    Yes, of course, other people have problems, and indeed far worse ones. That doesn’t mean that your own cliffs of fall are not real, and important. And that there is no magic solution to getting over them, or around them, and they aren’t just going to run away. ‘Though it does sound to me as though you may have found a way to sidestep them, so that in time, they become an inconsequential hummock that serves only to remind you that once you were in this place.

    I loved both the pieces of writing you linked to. Especially the wedding piece. It was so beautifully realised. With just a few words, you got me inside the mind of the narrator, and got me thinking of the imaginings of her life. And without saying much at all, you got me to visualise the whole scene. I am astonished by how much you can do with so few words and so little embellishment.

  4. Pavlov's Cat April 26, 2009 at 4:45 am #

    I don’t even know what a ‘wii fit record’ is.

  5. Deborah April 26, 2009 at 6:38 am #

    And BTW, I finally got that copy of your book that you signed posted over to my mum, and she sat up late reading it last night, and is settling down to read more today. She’s enjoying it very much, and she’s fascinated by the way you use words so economically and so well.

  6. Pen April 26, 2009 at 7:31 am #

    Yes. because then you have not just a reason for writing but for why it’s a good thing to be alive at all.

  7. m April 28, 2009 at 1:00 pm #

    you are less fragile than you think you are…

    no matter what your reasons for writing, people’s reason for reading your writing will remain – they enjoy it!

  8. Mikhela April 29, 2009 at 7:18 am #

    It never ceases to amaze me that people I think are amazing and ever-so-clever and of course would have complete self certainty because of the indisputable breadth of their talents…have the very same doubts as merely mortal me.

  9. Deborah April 30, 2009 at 2:24 pm #

    My Mum has finished reading your book now, and she loved it. She has lived in that town. And she knows those people. She said that she has the most vivid visual images of the town and the people. She found the ambivalence so real, and she liked the open ends in the book, ‘though she distinguished that from resolution. The resolution was there, she said, but it was a real life one, full of uncertainty, and so believable.

    So there you are. There’s at least one person in New Zealand telling everyone she meets that they must read this book. I think she’s planning to hand it on to my sister-in-law, whom I like very much, and I’m sure she will like it too.

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