Stephen Sell, has written a previous guest post on this little piece of cyber real estate. So, when he read this piece at our writing group this past Sunday, I immediately begged for him to do it again.
This time I did not promise cookies. He was onto that trick. He knew I never delivered on the previously-promised chocolate chips. Instead, I prevailed upon his friendship, his duty to a fellow-writer and anything else I could summon up on the spot because remember boys and girls…guilt can be our friend.
And so, without further ado, I present…
THE PLACE TO MYSELF By Stephen Sell
Jan’s email reminding all of us about the writing group this coming Sunday, blazed onto my computer screen and threw me into guilt mode.
I knew it was coming of course, but Carol and I are in the middle of clearing out fifteen years of stuff and selling our home, so apart from my private journal, nothing had been written since the last meeting. Oh, shit! That means that I’ll have to be creative and hope that the elusive muse will flutter down and kiss my baldy bonce. But what should I write? I cast a jaundiced eye on the hard copy of my never-ending novel, and quickly decide that I can’t face that monster today.
Ideas can come from strange sources, however, and this little piece got its beginnings from a blog by none other than our own Colleen Friesen. I’m not usually a blog follower (if indeed that is the correct term,) and the only one I check out is Colleen’s. She’s a fine writer, and, like me, suffers from torturous guilt about not getting on with her novel.
But we’re not alone in this quandary: German novelist, Thomas Mann, wisely said, “A writer is someone for whom writing is harder than it is for other people.” And who amongst us wishes to be classified as, “other people?”
Back to Colleen’s blog – it was headed Chickens Can Type, but the title belied the content. It was on being alone in her house – what we used to call in Scotland, having the place to myself, and I well remember that delightful freedom.
Most writers want a peaceful and productive session every time they sit down at their tables, but eventually we ask someone to approve our work, and that can spoil the fun. We blissfully tap away on our keyboards with the same intensity as monks scratching their illuminated manuscripts, but performance pressures can be hurtful to Mann or monk. It all depends on the writer’s level of sensitivity at the time.
“You missed the “C” in Christ, Brother Ignatius,” may not be heard in our writing rooms, but there’s criticism coming, none the less, and that might be why we fear the completing of a major work. That old proverbial thief, procrastination, is still the writer’s worse enemy. In my case, it’s coupled with laziness to hone my writing for presentation to others.
What I do love is the peaceful, Zen-like attention that I give to writing my journal. But even that ends up to be a chore when I feel lazy – and these days, that’s quite often. The gurus tell us that writing about our own writing, is not really writing. Well, bugger them.
I know this reads like a journal entry, and I do feel a little guilty about presenting this piece to the group. But it was the only gift that came from a grumpy muse who, instead of a kiss, kicked me in the bum.
Besides, it’s all Jan and Colleen’s fault.