For most of 2013 I was unable to write. Part of my dilemma was circumstantial, but most of it was a gigantic case of writer’s block. I felt crippled, unable to form words or sentences that had any meaning. It has been terrible.
I tried a half-dozen different ways to unblock myself, but still, my cursor would blink on an empty screen. It was like I was in a contest with that damn cursor, a contest I had no hope of winning.
And then, just a few days ago, I found a revolutionary-to-me solution. A notebook. Not a pretty notebook, not one that was bound in leather, or with gold gilt on the pages. Just a regular, $0.99 cent spiral-bound single-subject notebook and a black, Bic pen. Nothing fancy, nothing special. Suddenly, the pressure is gone. I can write pages and pages! Sure, my hand gets crampy and my writing is mostly illegible, but I’m okay with that. I can read it well enough to copy it onto my laptop if it’s something I want to share. And if it’s not something I want to share, I’m not “messing up” a page in a beautiful notebook with scribbles or drivel, nor do I feel like I need to remove a less-than-perfect page from a spiral notebook (as, admittedly, I have done in many a pretty one).
I didn’t realize this, but I must have felt that a beautiful notebook or journal only deserved beautiful, meaningful, long-lasting writing in it. And that, my friends, is crippling. To feel that everything you produce must be perfect on the first attempt, or at least, only need minor edits. Gaah, it’s ludicrous! How could I be so….so stupid!? So shackled!? So tied to this supposition that anything less than perfect was not worth attempting?
As I thought about this (while writing this post, long-hand, on page 17 of my started-yesterday-but-filling-up-nicely notebook) it occurred to me that, just maybe, my scribbly notebooks may be worth more than a hardcover published work. The thought processes, the frustrations, the attempts, the marginalia…there is intrinsic value in that type of writing. And I knew it, but didn’t think it applied to me. Sigh. Sometimes, I really surprise myself at my own obtuseness.
I have missed writing.