Writer’s blog. I mean block.

Someone very dear to me tells me to write about what I’m feeling or experiencing at this moment. And as you may have noticed, one of the things I have obviously been experiencing is an inability to write. Well, let’s not call it an inability just yet. But fact is, I haven’t written in a couple of months.

It makes me sad when someone understandably asks; so, you’re done with the blog? I sure hope I’m not! The very thought makes me feel like I’ve abandoned something precious.I love this blog. This blog got me writing. It got me crystalizing my thoughts and sharing them. It got me having exchanges and conversations about these thoughts with people I don’t know. Some of the comments people have posted are priceless to me. This blog feels like one of the best things I’ve done, and more than that, it’s my baby. Created out of the blue one day after work, and taking on a life of its own after that.

So what happened? Why have I for the past weeks, felt pressured to write but uninspired to do so. I still get loads of great ideas, but somehow, the more time passes, the harder it is for me to sit down and write. It begins to feel like this big thing that I should do, like something I have to do. And that’s not what it should be like. That’s not what it was. Before, it was a delicious pleasure, something all of my own.

All those who have ever procrastinated about a task will know the feeling. The more you put something off, the more unpleasant it becomes in your head. The more you tell yourself you ‘must’ do something, the less you want to. Yet we torment ourselves with ‘should’s’ and ‘must’s’. The great psychologist Albert Ellis calls this ‘musturbation’.

In relation to blogs in particular, I was surprised at the timeliness and synchronicity of randomly receiving this blog post in my inbox even though it is not a blog I follow. The post is called ’12-step program for very bad bloggers’ and begins like this;

Hi, my name is Jeny and I have blogger’s guilt. Unlike Catholic guilt, where you feel guilty about something you’ve done, blogger’s guilt comes from something you haven’t done.
I feel like I should blog, because I have a blog and then it doesn’t help that I’ve received massive amounts of requests from my reader to write something.

And yes, she says ‘reader’ not ‘readers’ because she muses that she must only have one reader left after not writing for so long. Hehhehe. Yes, it’s good to take your writing blo(ck/g) with a pinch of humor. So I hope you’re enjoying this post, my dear reader.

My friend Yasmina also wrote a post about writer’s block, back in January. So maybe we all go through it. And I don’t just mean writers or bloggers. Everyone. With different things. Don’t we all have things we start by simply wanting to do, then think we ought to do, and then don’t do.

So what brought this on?

Well, first off, some big life changes. Big changes make it hard to keep up your regular activities.

Does being in a relationship again play a part? I once read that married women can’t write. That somehow being in a relationship stifles creativity. I don’t believe that at all. Love, the good kind, should give you wings (yes, just like Red Bull or Always pads).

Anyway, around the time I stopped writing, I wrote a post about getting over relationships. A painful, heart-felt post. But I didn’t post it because I knew it would hurt someone. Two someones. My ex, and my new beau. Yes they both read my blog.

Friends I showed the post to also said; don’t publish it. It was the first time I’d censored myself. It made me wish I’d managed to keep my blog completely anonymous. (By the way, my ex found my blog because he’d seen it posted by someone on facebook, and had recognized my writing. I was touched, and still am, by how much he liked it, and how happy he was that I was writing. He said; you’ve always written, in your head, and in the way you talk and describe things, but now it’s finally out there!)

Even though the post was not just about them, but about breakups in general, breakups my friends had told me about, and even though I knew I’d written the post in an emotional moment that did not necessarily reflect the rest of reality, I knew they’d feel it did*.

Not posting it cut my flow. Before that, and from the beginning of the blog, I’d simply written and posted. Posting was part of my process. Something was in my head, then on ‘paper’ (that is Word processing virtual paper), then on the blog. There was no overthinking (which was very healthy for me, as everyone who knows me knows, I overthink everything and it makes me hesitant and indecisive). Nothing I wrote stayed inside, not in my head or heart or harddrive. But that post stayed there, festering in all those places. And knowing that the reason was self-censorship made it even worse. The whole point of the blog was to just openly share my thoughts. To feel free. To do something ‘me’.

The other thing that simultaneously happened is that people started to read the blog. It passed the 5,000 view mark, Leb-aggregator mentioned it, and Ragmag ran that little piece. Suddenly I began to worry if people would like my next posts. What if I’d simply been lucky with the first ones? What if I couldn’t write like that anymore? Was my ability to write just a temporary fluke? I know I shouldn’t think like that. I know I should just write and not worry who likes what or even whether anyone likes any of it.

The censorship and the fear seemed to take away the innocence of the beginning, the writing for the pleasure of writing, and of sharing. Now I felt I had something to live up to, topics I had to tiptoe around, and people’s feelings to worry about.

But I want to write, and I’m writing right now. And it feels great. But I’m still tiptoeing around certain things, and I’ll have to find a way to make that work.

So here I go, biting the bullet and trying again. Writing again.

*The things I write are a subjective amalgam of different things. Things that are happening now, things that have happened long ago. To me, to others. They’re always heartfelt and real, but not always what they seem. It’s writing, not reporting. 

Baby take off your shoes.

Sat in on a memoir-writing class led by a poet and a third grade English teacher. They gave us random words, and told us to free-write for 15-minutes for each word. They told us to just go with the flow, no editing and no logic. I told them not to worry about me and logic, my posts are generally illogical already.

Here are the words I was given:  Shoes; Watermelon; Home. Not going to be the deepest posts ever.

Let’s start with shoes.

Shoes carry my feet. That’s not right, they are a cover and support for my feet. They protect my feet from the weather, from broken glass and urine on the street. I’ve sometimes wondered if shoes are really needed- except of course for city walking and all the hazards that would entail including cars running over your naked feet, particularly in this city. What I wondered about was more if shoes are a cultural phenomenon like ties (the ultimate function-less item of clothing, seen by many as oppressive, representing western imperialism, or office oppression- did you know ties are forbidden for all IKEA employees? I still think men look great in ties sometimes). Are shoes even good for your feet? I don’t mean stilettos- which probably aren’t, but just any good old shoes. They’re not apparently. Check out this article about how it took 4 million years for humans to perfect the way they walk and how it’s all being changed, and ruined, by shoes. And that’s not nothing. It affects the way we hold ourselves, our backs, everything. Do you like those new Vibram 5-toe shoe thingies? I haven’t tried them yet, but I imagine it’s a cool experience. My friend E.O. wears them, and even manages to make them look fab.

I know from my parents that they never put any shoes on my feet until I was a year old. I walked at 10 months, but only wore my first shoes two months later, and only because it was winter in Maine where my parents were vagabonding, and too cold to be barefoot. I still have a thing about walking barefoot. Especially on soil or grass or sand.

Some people have favorite shoes. My brother will wear a single pair daily through and through, until it’s time to replace it. I like the idea of using something fully and entirely. Whether it is used and re-used by you or someone else or many ‘someone else’s, I like giving things a new life, and allowing them to fulfill their destiny. Someone’s cast off’s could be someone else’s treasures and find a new home with them. Speaking of homes and giving things a new life, a friend of mine who is visiting from abroad went with his dad to visit their family home in the South, and he was telling me how the house has been entirely refurbished and furnished (from doors to beds) using the old items from every home they (or other of their relatives) have had. His dad showed him ‘the first bed your mom and I had’, and other poetic memories. He said it made the style a bit messy and overly eclectic, but I love the idea.

It’s amazing how the shoes you wear affect how you feel. There’s a big difference (and I’ve heard men say the same) between how you feel when you wear your converse or when you wear more formal shoes. My rain boots for example make me feel so playful and child-like. They make me smile and I purposefully walk (jump?) into puddles when no one is looking. I used to never wear high heels, except at weddings for some reason. Made me feel too tall, too pushy, overpowering. Always made me feel like I was in disguise, not really me, like I was a kid playing dress up in my mom’s shoes. Which I remember vividly (or do I remember because I’ve seen a photograph?), age 3, after a bath, walking around the house naked wearing my mom’s red shoes and giggling non-stop. My mom by the way, doesn’t really wear heels either. At weddings though they only made me feel elegant and sexy. Oh and blistery. Since my last birthday, I’ve decided to wear more heels, bought several cute strappy ones in different colors and materials and am looking forward to nights out to wear them.

And shoes say a lot about a person. You express yourself and who you want to project yourself to be through your shoes. Do you ever find yourself discreetly checking out a person’s shoes when you are trying to figure out who they are?

Shoes, so many expressions and sayings and ideas about shoes. Walk a mile in someone’s shoes, a horseshoe for luck, put yourself in my shoes. So what’s in a shoe? A sole. A soul? Shoo, get out of here.  Your shoes will show you the way out.

Shoe size. We could go into all the issue of why small foot size for some people and in some cultures is a desirable trait in women. Chinese foot bindings, foot fetishes, etc. etc.

Shoes are our base, our anchor, our standing ground, delimiting the space we take up on the floor, on the earth. It is the surface of the soles of our shoes which our direct physical contact with the earth at any time.  Everywhere I go, I take up a small space on the ground, that’s where me talking, me eating, me running, comes up from. I don’t know if this is offensive, but what about people with no feet? Are they missing any of that groundedness, that connection with the earth?

So what is your shoe size? What is the size of your print on the world?

Tell me about your favorite shoes.

The non-post.

Many of you have been rightfully pestering me to write a new post, seeing as the last one was 2 weeks ago! (I usually aim for a post per week). The reason I haven’t written lately is not lack of inspiration but purely that I’ve been too busy. Being too busy is probably the most used, and lamest, excuse around. But seriously, I’ve been too busy. Mainly taking some interesting evening classes, which I hope to write about sometime.

So this post is technically not a real post, but a teaser-post, which aims to: apologize for the delay in getting a new post out there; keep you excited and waiting for the next one; keep you from giving up on me completely; and get you involved in the process.

How? By letting you decide the topic of the next post. Getting your responses oughta kick me into gear.

Before I give you the choices, let me explain a bit about how I write. Sometimes an incident or story inspires a post, and then once it’s written, I come up with the title. Other times a title simply comes to mind and then I write a post as a response to that title. And the post might not even directly answer the title, it might simply begin there and then spin and dance its way to where it wants to go.

So what you will be choosing is not the topic as such, but the title. I came up with four titles today. I think I’ll eventually write posts for all four, but let’s choose the next one.

Once the title is secured, nobody knows where the post might go, but I hope you’ll join me for the ride, and we’ll find out together.

The choices are*:

  1. ‘Edit when sober’
  2. ‘Your grandma’s sex life’
  3. ‘She’s mine’
  4. ‘Indecent proposal’

* You can share your choice by posting a reply to this post, or by writing on the facebook page, or on twitter by mentioning @Blushingsblog (https://twitter.com/blushingsblog

So why the blog?

I was recently in a play in which each of us had 5 minutes to portray, through any medium, something we wanted to express. Some did a dance, some did a song, some mimed, some did incomprehensible modern abstract performances, and some did hilarious stand-up comedy. I split my minutes into three portions, approximately one-and-a-half-minute scenes, interspersed among the other performances, one at the beginning, one in the middle, and one at end of the show. Typical attention seeker. Actually it was our instructors’ idea to split my scenes in order to make it a ‘fil rouge’ (let’s say ‘theme’ in English) throughout the piece.

In my first bit (also the first scene of the play), I came out as an opera singer wearing a long red dress. My fellow playmates (that word sounds totally wrong doesn’t it) were behind me as an orchestra with invisible instruments. So I come onstage, and salute the beautiful audience whom I imagine to be clapping profusely (there actually were two hundred spectators a night, and so much demand that we had to extend. Twice). The conductor signals the musicians to begin; I sway to the music a little, open my arms and fingers, close my eyes, take a breath, and then… nothing. It takes the conductor a moment to realize I haven’t begun to sing, but when he does he stops the music and looks at me, worried. I give him an apologetic look, then assure him we can go on. I freeze another two times before running off stage.

In my second scene, I come out as a mad artist with a red beret (yup, I took the ‘fil rouge’ thing quite literally), complete with an obsessed servant-fan carrying my easel, palette, and paints. After making him follow me round and round the stage with all the materials while I look for the perfect spot, we get set up. I begin mixing my colors, simply holding out my hand and my servant-fan giving me what I need, much like a nurse assisting a surgeon. After all this prep, I squint my eyes, take position, hold my brush carefully and… do nothing. You get the drill.

Finally, the figurative curtain opens in my final scene (also the last scene of the play) on me in a beautiful bridal dress, carrying a red rose (yup, red again). Behind me are actors dressed in black, and others dressed in white. They represent my thoughts. My real-life indecisive, hesitant, obsessive and tormenting thoughts. The black ones are holding back and the white ones are encouraging me. But neither of the two are really me. So of course I prepare to give my rose to an invisible suitor floating in front of the stage, and…  don’t. Three times. But my liberation does come in the final scene, because I throw the rose, toss my veil, and decide to just not care anymore. To stop thinking so much. To let go. And I reconcile with all the thoughts standing behind me, literally dance with them, and fall backwards into their arms.

I later told my dad and relatives: There, now you’ve seen me in a wedding dress, pressure’s off.

Joking aside, the idea behind my scenes, which were simple and self-explanatory (though several newspaper articles got them all wrong- stating for example, that the singer didn’t want to sing because her orchestra was really lousy), was my real life self-created obstacles. I overthink things, and my inner perfectionist/ critic stops me before I ever dare do anything.

Among other things, I have always wanted to write. I have always written… in my head. If I ever did write something on paper, it would remain in one of my little notebooks in a drawer. If I ever did type something up, my compulsive editor self would destroy it until there was nothing left.

After the play, after dealing with this issue head on, on stage, in front of people, including, by the way, past and current employers, something clicked. I guess it’s obvious, but the singer, painter and bride were dealing with these issues, and I was dealing with mine by the mere fact of being on stage. Getting up there was really scary for me, and I’d wanted to quit so many times… but once I allowed myself… I loved being on stage. And it’s not about the attention. It’s about the feeling of time literally expanding, and nothing else existing. Being on stage, you feel the every sensation of your feet on the ground, you feel your every breath, every pulsation of your heart. And if you take the time to look at the audience… You see a sea of faces and lights… You literally feel the energy of all these people vibrating towards you.

And in an old theater like the one we were in, maybe you even choose to believe you can feel the history of every person who ever acted there, every fiasco, every success, and all the people who ever dressed up and went to see a show there. But most of all, when you’re on stage you feel the silent yet so loud encouragement of your fellow ‘actors’. You help each other dress between scenes, bring out each other’s props in the dark, always trying to do everything perfectly to make them comfortable and to not create any glitch in their scene. They know every movement and word of your scenes, and they mime and mouth them backstage while you’re performing, and you do the same when they’re onstage. You feel happy when they do well, and feel their frustration when they forget a word.

So the play made me feel that anything was possible, and that there was nothing to be afraid of. Once you’ve made yourself utterly vulnerable and put your issues in front of people to judge (and they did), you realize that your arms won’t fall off- as my old roommate used to say.

A week after the play ended, I went for coffee with a friend (who was then only an acquaintance), who blogs at Beirut Rhapsodies. We spoke about writing, and about regaining our wings after they are clipped by well-meaning critical dads, boyfriends, teachers… She told me: Why don’t you write a post for my blog? So I did. I wrote it really fast, in about 7 minutes, and for once in my life, did not allow myself to proofread or edit. I sent it to her, she published it on her blog, and that was it. The big deal was not having readers or positive comments (though that was lovely). The big deal was that I wrote. And showed it to someone. I decided to start this blog in order to make sure I kept writing. The post I wrote for her is the first post on this blog, ‘At least the illusion of it’.