January 2, 2014 by Julia
The problem with writing (or any other creative endeavor, maybe) is that when you stop doing it for a while, you start to build it up in your mind as this thing you know loads about, you just don’t feel like doing it right now. You might prepare too long, puttering around with research or how-to books, waiting for the right moment. You become a critic, listing all the things that make a written piece wonderful or terrible. Your mental list of all the things you’d never do grows longer by the day (like writing aimlessly about how you have writer’s block), and you kind of start to feel like an expert. After all, you did write that one thing a few weeks or months back that you’re proud of.
All of that is well and good until you sit down and actually have to do it again.
I took a blogging break over the holidays for around two weeks and now it’s a whole different YEAR, and I don’t know how to do it again. I’ve been writing aimlessly…so aimlessly. I have writer’s block, which theoretically, I don’t even believe in, because if you just write about your own truth you’ll stumble onto something interesting eventually, you dig? Ugh. That’s what I believe. Still, I’m thinking maybe I should spare you the stumbling part?
Oh well. Here goes nothing. My truth is this:
My Christmas and New Year’s were lovely and joyful and exhausting both physically and socially – an emotional rollercoaster, if you will. (Cliché alert! I told you there was bad writing ahead.) All of that was expected. All in all, this was one of the better Christmases. I just don’t feel like rehashing it, because that would be like leaving up the Christmas decorations and listening to Christmas music all the way through January, which would be unbearable. I am done with Christmas. I can’t wait to pack that shit up tomorrow and stow it away in the closet for the next 11 months. And I will run free through our suddenly spacious home, unencumbered.
Speaking of that, I am in a manic state of cleaning the slate for 2014. I mean our home slate. I want the junk out. OUT, DAMN SPOT(s)! Or at least hide thyselves under new slipcovers. All the other stuff we don’t use, the broken stuff, the outgrown toys, outgrown clothes, all the ugly things and things we are not emotionally attached to: don’t let the door hit you on the way OUT.
On a related note, I think I studied interior design in college in part because I am very sensitive to my home environment. I don’t mind messes at all in other people’s homes (much more comfortable than pristine perfection), but in my own home, I feel a little crazy when things are out of order. Now, I don’t consider myself to be one of those neat-freak, type-A people. I am pretty relaxed. (I think.) I just…feel scattered, distracted, disturbed by mess. Especially during special times like Christmas. Which essentially means I didn’t stop moving for the entire month of December…trying to keep my environment Christmas-y, in addition to all the other Christmas stuff that had to be done. (Much of it was fun, sometimes it wasn’t. That was expected, too.)
Anyway, I just want to feel on top of things. Like my home works the way it’s supposed to, with drawers that aren’t so stuffed full we stop opening them altogether. I want to empty the drawers out. I want to be organized and enjoy and relax and breathe. Accomplishing that could probably be a full-time job, though, with our family in its current state. And the truth is, organizing never ends. Once you get to the top floor, the bottom floor is cluttered again.
I’m not sure where I’m going with this. I just feel like we have too much stuff. I often gripe that we don’t have enough space, but the truth is, if we had a playroom or basement or real dining room, we’d just fill it with more stuff that had to get sorted. Maybe small spaces are better, because they force you to have less stuff.
Today I made myself stop it with the clean-slate-ing, though. It was getting out of control, and I’m not even sure I have much to show for it. Don’t get me wrong – I am still inspired to get rid of stuff, and I plan to continue. But Dennis is off work until Monday, and I need to do something I can’t usually do on a Thursday, which is take a real REAL break. (Don’t worry, he’s had his break, too. I am justified and fair.) I saw Fiona off to school, and at 10:00 a.m. Dennis took over with Jack downstairs while I retired here to our bedroom with my candle and Enya and aromatherapy heating pad over my shoulders and coffee and book. How’s that for a BREAK, manic voices in my head!!
Yeah, I had to fight those voices up until the last minute of actually sitting in bed with my book. Because I noticed that tissues and cough drop wrappers were littered all over the floor next to my bed, and I think they’ve been there since I had that cold in October, and what kind of person lives like this?? So I allowed myself to clean that up, but I couldn’t look at the dusty bookshelves or other various piles in our bedroom, because then it would be all over, and my coffee and heating pad would grow cold. Strange how hard it is to just stop, sometimes.
Anyway, I was feeling great and at peace for most of the day, enjoying my book and doing yoga. But now I’m writing in bed, and it’s snowing gorgeous fat flakes out my window while the sun sets, and all things considered I should still be feeling rested, but sundown is usually the roughest time of day for me (apparently even when I’m not trying to cook dinner and keep up with the kids).
And writing has made me antsy. I’ve been trying to figure out what to write about for days. I hate the idea of writer’s block, as I said. I also hate the idea of writing something and putting it out into the world when I actually have nothing to say. You can usually tell the fluff pieces from the ones of substance, and I would despise myself for posting filler just to keep my blog “active.” Yuck. But I also think part of the point of blogging is to clear the pipes, so to speak. (I apologize if that is also some sort of sexual ephemism; it seems to be the only metaphor that sticks to this writing situation for me. Side note: I am paranoid about unintentionally using sexual ephemisms due to my prolonged innocence due to home-schooling.)
So…this is my humble beginning to 2014. A little clearing of the pipes, cleaning of the slate, organizing of the drawers of my mind.
Contrary to the tone of this post, I am actually excited about this year. I’ve got ideas and projects in the works. No blogging or writing ideas, mind you. More like quality-of-life ideas, like service projects for Fiona’s girl scout troop, and memory-keeping books, and a slightly more adventurous attitude about traveling somewhere fun with the kids. (Probably only because we haven’t done it for a while).
And as I write this sentence…well…maybe there is one thing I can think of to write about, now that I’ve publicly flailed around in the shallow end. I’ll save it for later.
Happy New Year, fellow stumblers and flailers! We’ve got to stick together, you know.