Not Writing

Okay, I know I keep banging on about not writing but it seems to have become as much a preoccupation for me as writing was previously. So I fell upon the article on Not writing by Kate Colquhoun in this quarter’s edition of ‘The Author’ .

In it she says she stopped writing five years ago. She got an office job which proved to be ‘unpredictably liberating’. She made her escape from ‘the sentence of sentences’ – a perfect phrase to convey the constraints of the whole process of writing.

She was freed ‘from the need to pull words out of a void. to re-imagine lives and piece together histories, from contracts and deadlines’. She was free of the world of a ‘half-realised book’. Oh, how I can relate to what she says. It is such a relief not to have the anguish – and very often it is anguish – of creating something out of nothing, of nurturing imaginary characters into real people, of delving into the subconscious to allow dreams, emotions, images, glimpses of others’ lives into the light.

Image result for subconscious

And yet … and yet … the sense of loss. The vacuum left behind by writing is huge. I mourn the creativity that was extinguished when I began my treatment in October 2016, while any remaining embers were stamped down by my second diagnosis last year. I miss writing, and yet I don’t want to write: that’s my conundrum.

I’ve given up writing before. I stopped for about ten years when the demands of family, career, life became all-consuming. I thought then that that was it. I’d written four novels (which generated a lot of interest but didn’t ever get me a publisher) and my writing days were over.

But then the desire returned. I left full-time teaching, did my MA in creative writing at Bath Spa, and wrote three more novels and lots of short stories, many of which were successful in competitions and published in anthologies.Desire – or is it a compulsion? Will I, in the end, be compelled to restart for a second time? Kate Colguhoun, in her article, writes about writing as ‘an addiction, that one is compelled to return to’. At the moment, I don’t know, but I am enjoying the respite from ‘the sentence of sentences’!


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  1. Debbie Young says:

    Lindsay, do you ever write “morning pages”, when you allow yourself just to scribble down anything you like for a few pages, fluently and uncritical, just writing straight from the subconscious? Three sides of A4 is the recommended length – then stop (although you can do whatever length suits you, and adapt the process to any time of day that suits your current routine. That might be a great and low-pressure way to vent your need to write without tiring you out or putting yourself under any stress – and, like Alice Through the Looking Glass only arriving at her destinations by walking in the opposite direction, you might even find it makes you want to write more. You probably know about this technique already, but I just thought I’d mention it in case it was helpful. Thinking of you and hoping you will feel better soon. Best wishes, Debbiexx

  2. Stéphanie Hojin says:

    You wrote today. I remember your talk at Broadway library. It was so interesting. Hope you feel you can write again one day. Life takes over at times. I’m very slow when writing. Too distracted. Best wishes. Stéphanie

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