On Not Writing

There’s an excellent book for writers by Stephen King called On Writing. The book is partly a memoir, and partly a practical view of the writer’s craft, comprising the basic tools of the trade every writer must have. It’s the sort of book I would once have pored over, constantly seeking ways to improve my writing. I have even produced my own work about writing:

But now, sadly, my book would have to be called On Not Writing. That, I’m afraid, is what I’m trying to come to terms with. I’ve lost the urge, the drive to write.

These lines from Clive James’s poem ‘Landfall’ strike a deafening chord for me:

          ‘Hard to believe, now, that I once was free/ From pills in heaps, blood tests, X-rays and scans./ No pipes or tubes. At perfect liberty,/ I stained my diary with travel plans.’

Perhaps mine weren’t always travel plans, but they were writing plans: word counts, scenes, character development, arrangements for teaching, giving talks, library visits. And now they’ve gone. The threads are broken.

Of all the many tests I’ve had over the last couple of years, last Friday I had the strangest of all. I had my fingernails viewed under a microscope. The test was a diagnostic tool for my secondary condition, which was exacerbated by the chemotherapy. Thankfully the doctor pronounced my capillaries as fine, and he was a very astute doctor as he said ‘Clearly, you’re an intelligent woman!’

The thing was the technician who was carrying out the test asked ‘What would you usually be doing on a Friday morning if you weren’t having your fingertips looked at under a microscope?’ Once the answer would have been obvious: Writing. Now it’s much more nebulous: on a good day, reading, on a bad day, sleeping, staring into space.

However, I’ve just written a blog post about not writing. And that’s writing, isn’t it? Perhaps there’s hope for me after all!





Categorised in:


  1. Debbie Creed says:

    I love enjoyed reading this Lindsay! You’ve still got the gift! Here’s to much more writing!!

  2. Mary Howell says:

    A beautiful and moving piece of writing, Lindsay. Nil desperandum.

  3. Linda Sellers says:

    If you can produce a beautiful piece of writing like this Lindsay, there is most definitely hope for you. I look forward to the next instalment of such moving words.

  4. Debbie Young says:

    Just as Clive James’s poetry written during his illness has been inspirational, your writing will continue to be so, though perhaps in a different form to the substantial novels you’ve written in the past. Indeed, many people have said his later work is his best yet. And he’s still writing. Here’s to the writer within you, Lindsay, however it manifests itself outwardly now. xx

  5. Maureen says:

    Not, not writing… But a reawakening xxx

  6. Lynne Powell says:

    Beautiful, moving and as polished as a fine gem!

  7. Lindsay says:

    Thank you everyone for the wonderfully supportive comments. They certainly help to lift my spirits.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *