Liminal Luminous

a wandering, wondering space of devotion, creativity and freedom.
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On not writing

Annie Dillard rightly says in her book ‘The Writing Life’

How we spend our days is of course, how we spend our lives

Obvious isn’t it? If someone were to analyse my life what would it look like my priorities were?

I do a lot of different things, I love learning and trying new things. I told my husband yesterday that if, gun to my head, I could only do one creative act and the thing which fuels it, then it would be writing and reading. More than anything else I want to be a writer.

He said, ‘hmm, I would have thought it would be music’. I can see his point. This weekend we created my wall of sound (I know it is not the best Instagrammable picture, but my house is very dark, plus this isn’t staged, this is my house, with a filthy spaniel). I play at least one instrument, often two or three each day. I go to  an hour and a half of music lessons each week, plus band. And of course I have to travel to all of those things.

My time and money is very firmly invested in music. I go to live concerts and buy albums, as well as have a paid Spotify account.

But, as I’ve written before, music is structured. I know what I have to do to get it right. It is clearly written before my face either as notes, or as a syllabus to pass or fail. I don’t do playing by ear or composing, although I am challenging that and stretching myself.

But my writing? Oh, I love blogging here, although I get anxious about it at times. But, actually doing the writing that I desperately want to do? My novel? Nope, that gets no time at all spent on it. Damn it. Isn’t it a bugger when you have a realisation about how you are fooling yourself. And today, when I said I would start to do my creative writing? I’ve cleaned up my Evernote inbox, and written several blogposts. Not actually done the writing. My anxiety rose to such an extent that I had to go and have a lie down.

Maybe my husband has a point…. I spoke to him about it and he said maybe I like the idea of ‘being a writer’ more than actually doing the writing? At least when it comes to fiction. After had had this conversation the anxiety drained away and I could actually get on and do things with my day. How often do we do this? How often do we carry around ideas of what we think we want, but actually, and truly we don’t want to do them? We have got caught up on the idea of it, rather than the reality.

I sometimes think that simplicity is about physical things. I am certainly someone whose brain gets snagged on all the things I can see around me. But maybe, actually simplicity is about creating a life which flows, where there isn’t energy being wasted on worrying, second guessing and high levels of anxiety. That is something I would love my life to be. Are you carrying around ideas which are causing anxiety? Versions of you that you think you want to be rather than actually are?

5 Comment

  1. I think you’re on to something massive. We all carry around ideas of what we think we want but actually don’t want in our hearts. The challenge is to distinguish the ideas from the true deepest yearnings of our hearts. How to do that… especially when some of those ideas are so ingrained in us, perhaps also validated by others and society etc

  2. I have known people who liked to have what one might call a spare dream. A bit like a window in the house of their life looking out onto a distant valley.
    My first husband was like that. He wanted to sail round the world. He used to go into yacht chandlers and tell them he was going to sail round the world. He’d chat about it to friends who really did sail, and was very convincing; they all believed him. So far as I know he has never done any sailing at all. His uncle left him a boat, and he sold it.
    It puzzled me for a long time, but I concluded that while he didn’t really want the actual thing with all its expense, effort and commitment, he somehow needed the dream — it gave him a sense of space and possibility. Like Bob Dylan’s song about “When I paint my masterpiece . . .”

  3. Blogging is also writing 🙂 I think it’s interesting how some forms carry more weight than others – with the large, serious novel at the top, and smaller, apparently less substantial things further down the ladder for so many of us. Most days I just write the blog, only, after about eight years if blogging more days than not, that’s thousands of words put out into the world. Maybe I don’t need to write a substantial novel. Maybe the blog is the work I should be doing _ I don’t know, but I find the values attached to these things interesting.

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