I should be drafting a post about a memorable walk with a very good friend which took place on an overcast day last month. I will write that post very soon, and it will be dated 21st June – around about the day of the walk – because part of the purpose of this blog is to record my life here in Cornwall, which requires a degree of chronology and a matching of posts to when their subject matter actually occurred. But as the weeks have passed, other reasons for blogging are coming to the fore.
I am actually writing right now in mid-July. It is a blazing, blistering hot day and we’ve just waved good-bye to my parents who’ve been staying with us. They will have their own post in due course but despite my best efforts I remain consistently about a month behind. Attempts to catch up to ‘real time’ are making slow progress, although since I began the blog a month after arriving here, and I’m roughly a month behind, I suppose at least that shows some consistency. It will most likely be August then, before I get to write about Mum & Dad’s visit, and when it appears it will be dated mid-July. The decision to backdate posts is proving challenging, and causing some frustration too. And these past few days when I’ve not been able to post (or to write) have thrown up a few insights of their own – not least the underlying lack of confidence which has resurfaced because my rhythm has been broken.
So I’m writing this to find my way back into a writing rhythm, and I’ll use it to capture some of the insights that have been highlighted over this period of writing drought and I’m going to post it in real time. Once I’m back in the groove, I’ll revert to backdating and fill in the gaps. I wonder how confusing this might become!
It has not been possible to write with my parents here and I’ve missed it hugely. The lack of opportunity to write has been on my mind almost constantly: a subtle background awareness and an increasingly strong need to resume as soon as I could. It hasn’t impacted on the visit; we’ve all enjoyed it in our various ways, and I’ve been so happy to have Mum & Dad visit. But having seen them safely onto the train what’s the first thing – the only thing – I’ve done since we got home? I’m writing. Or thinking about writing. That I didn’t rush home to start catching up on the washing or the vacuuming is quite normal – and to my mind, perfectly acceptable. But here we are – in a truly beautiful spot with a truly perfect summery day outside – and I’m at the laptop writing. I’m not even sure where I’m going with what I’m writing but I’m doing it anyway. I have gardening jobs I could tackle; walks I might take; a shady tree under which I could read – all activities I enjoy a lot. But I’m at the laptop writing. I have to scratch the itch.
It’s caught me by surprise – how much I’ve missed the writing process. I journaled for many years. I dabbled in poetry, made half-hearted beginnings on a motley collection of stories and novels, but I’ve written when I’ve wanted to write, which has tended to be in fits and starts, and it’s always been a secondary thing to the rest of life. I’ve never granted it the status I’ve given it now and I’ve never attempted to discipline myself into a daily writing habit. Since moving here something has changed. I made a commitment to call myself a writer and I’ve come to realise that now, I do think of myself as a writer. I’ve been able to make a distinction between writer and author; I’ve realised that it’s possible to be one without being the other and that is ok. It’s been a long time coming. And now I have that perception as a part of my sense of self, I can no longer easily set it aside. Any more than I can set aside the sense of myself as a caring daughter.
I’ve also learned that I have to be able to think myself into the writing process; I can’t just sit down and make it happen. I’ve discovered that when we made the move to Cornwall, I didn’t just move house physically. My mind also undertook a house-move, and now appears to have acquired a very desirable residence in a new, spacious, inner writing space. I look out at the rest of life from the private, writer’s apartment in my head. I partake of life through a writer’s senses; I see the view from here through a writer’s eyes.
This means that ordinarily I can settle to the actual writing process quite easily because I’m already in the ‘zone’. While attending to Mum & Dad’s visit however, it’s not been possible to maintain that headspace. I vacated the writer’s apartment and took temporary accommodation in my daughterly cooperative. Getting up early in order to write didn’t help because I couldn’t switch residences in time. By the time I’ve shuffled from one cerebral home to the other, the day is underway and the moment has passed. Simpler to let the writer’s apartment lie empty for a few days. But I’ve missed it. I loved having Mum and Dad here, but my head is very happy to be moving homes again. I’ve learned that I need to write, and I need time to settle into the right space mentally.
Even now, when I’m itching to get back into writing and have the entire day in which to do so, I know I’m not yet in the right place. I’m warming up. Playing around. Putting words on a page. Still arranging the inner furniture. I suspect it will take all of today before I’ve made the transition and got the inner sofa nicely positioned so I can look out comfortably again. And maybe I’ll feel able to post something tomorrow.
I’m beginning to wonder once more about morning pages: a practice I’ve not used for years. That daily habit of simply writing and letting the words go where they will may be more than just a mind dump. I need to write every day; I appreciate how necessary that is for me now. Maybe, over these few days when it’s not been possible to write something meaningful on a daily basis, morning pages may have kept the momentum going.
This is all good stuff; it’s good that I recognize that writing has become a part of my toolkit for well-being; that I have to keep up the daily momentum even if simply writing for the sake of putting words on a page. I am adding these insights to the burgeoning list of reasons for why I am creating this blog – which will probably become a post in its own right eventually. Once I’ve caught up with posts about life here in our corner of Cornwall, that is. And polished off a few book reviews. And maybe pushed the vacuum round, managed a few loads of washing and done a spot of weeding. In our real house – rather than in my writer’s temple.
And I mustn’t forget to make use of that chair under the tree either. Read books while the sun shines…