The end of 2013 marked the end of two things: the year of yes, and my resolution to write once a week. 2014 has stumbled into spring with only a scattering of posts, and a great deal of confusion as to what my answers have been.
Writing takes practice. Every advice column, blog, book - whatever - will tell you the same. You are only a writer if you actually write, and the only way to improve is to read ferociously and write regularly.
Even if what you put out is total garbage, the point is you learn something about bad writing, you exercise an idea, your mind and fingers have rehearsed their connection, which every day can get a little bit stronger.
Well, it would appear, my lack of resolutions have left me a little flabby round the edges.
What's worth hearing?
Writers, the good ones at least, write for the reader. They consider what questions readers have and guide them delicately to see something in a light previously unconsidered. Pumping out words, just to puff and blow is pointless, and quickly becomes an impossibility for anyone that really cares about good writing.
And so my posts became fewer and fewer. Fewer reactions, no time to make connections. My favourite things: intertextuality, interdisciplinary approaches, interconnectedness. There was no room for them. One and done. On to the next one. Isolated events.
There are so many reasons and plenty of rumination that could talk to this lack of mind-to-finger exercise. Some I've shared already, my winter darkness. Others have only become apparent more recently when a crack in my continuum appeared. Or at least, it appeared to me (turns out it had been there a while).
The point being, it's really hard to write if you aren't feeling a connection or a joy in the things you are experiencing. If you are always rushing to get on to the next thing, your mind whirring rapidly, rushing through whatever it is - on autopilot - then how can anything seem worthy of hearing about?
Insisting on stopping to read
This autopilot, running, rushing and worrying about the next moment, not realising the current one is working out fine, also makes reading a near impossibility.
I don't have time to read. How will I have time to do all the things I want to do if I sit down and read for hours? How will I ever get round to reading The Goldfinch, all 771 pages of it, if I just sit around reading?
No, really. This is complete and logical reasoning when you are whirring along, bound too tightly to what might happen next.
These last two weeks, I've worked on letting go. On trying to just do the things that bring me pleasure and not worrying what doesn't get done as a result. Weirdly, the world hasn't totally fallen apart. Who knew?
A gentle warm-up
Writing is such an odd practice. Apart from the slight psychosis you need, it turns out you need to be much more 'in the moment' than you might expect. That's a cliched phrase, and I hate it, but it expresses most easily that concept of getting out of your head, and immersing yourself in what's around you.
That old idea of a writer, locked away with no company but their own thoughts has to be a fallacy. When all you have is rumination and memories, neither of which are real, how can you have anything at all to write about?
This little ramble is, for me, a creaky and aching reintroduction to walking after a long convalesce, locked away in a darkened room. Imagine something akin to the boy in 'The Secret Garden', made weaker the more he was hidden away and told to rest.
Let's just hope I haven't pulled something, first time out.