Word Constipation

24 11 2014

I’ve stopped writing.

That is, I write all the time but nothing of true personal meaning. All day numbers tumble from my fingers into spreadsheets, I reference international standards and local guidelines, I describe measurement setups, weather conditions and ambient noise conditions – but I don’t write for me anymore. And I miss it.

Is it phalange burn-out,  Digiti Manus accentus? Perhaps.  It’s certainly not for lack of things to say. I have a heap. And they are going increasingly unsaid.

I started this blog when I moved to the UK in 2008, so I could easily share photos and stories with friends and family back home without clogging inboxes and facebook feeds. I was pretty militant about posting too – I think I averaged once a week or so. Not bad.  And then life gets busy, especially after leaving London for the craziness of working in Singapore, and the blog got less and less love and attention.

I was ok at giving little shoutouts to exciting events, a wedding here and a birth there, but the front page was beginning to look more like a tired old office noticeboard with month old newsletters hanging precariously by the one remaining push-pin left after the others had been stolen for newer but equally impersonal announcements. The creative component of creative writing had all but dried up.

Often there was a flurry of posting activities around the end of the year when I get my ‘this year’s stats’ update from WordPress and I cringe at my lack of commitment. And I wanted to do my sister’s wedding justice by blogging the event day by day – but despite my best intentions we’re still only at her hens night, and her second anniversary is this weekend and there’s already a nephew on the scene yet to get some wordpress airtime!

So why the hold up? I guess part of it is that I spend a lot of time in front of a computer at work and the idea of getting home to do more of that is not often attractive. Certainly starting that Wedding series was a creativity killer – I felt I couldn’t add more content until I’d finished the series for fear of interrupting it (as if the multiple-month breaks in between the posts weren’t in themselves interruptive!). Partly its that I write with the hope that the words get read, and if someone is going to invest their time in reading the words I should make sure they are worthy.

Worthy words are hard because worthy words take thought and rereading and revising and rearranging until the words are just as they need to be. Emotive but economical. I like my thoughts to be clear and hard to misread – a combination of technical writing skills to avoid being sued and navigating the tricky waters of eRelationships where tone of voice is lost and words on a screen are all we have. Probably also that I stumble over words when speaking – particularly if they are ones of emotional weight – but writing lets me get the sentiment just right so I don’t come off as flippant or uncaring like I can in speech.

And so why now? Did I discover some sort of literary fibre supplement? nope. A few reasons:

One is reading the Amanda Palmer book ‘The Art of Asking’ and loving the conversational way in which she writes and how it echoes my own written ‘voice’ and how even if there is no groundbreaking thoughts or thrilling stories, it can just be nice to read some words from someone whose writing you enjoy. The words don’t need to be profound to touch or resonate or give you a reason to say ‘hey, good post. we should catch up’

Secondly, one of my bosses filled out and circulated a ‘getting to know you’ survey and alluded to his interest in books and music and talked about dreaming of being a creative writer – it was strange what an impact it can have to be reminded that all of us on that corporate wheel, no matter our position or our success or our office demeanor, feel guilt over not doing the things we enjoy and letting our hobbies fall away in preference of ‘getting shit done’.

Lastly, I’ve been a horrific communicator recently. I’m always so busy, whirling like the Tasmanian Devil in the Warner Bros cartoons from job to measurement to meeting to job, and the quiet space isn’t there to use. And I need that space, because I need to hone my words, and not getting that space means I don’t get the words the way I want them which means they go unsaid which makes me feel like an asshole. I had a good friend tell me her mum was unwell recently and it took me 4 days to get back to her with ‘the right words’ and I hated that because I didn’t want her to feel forgotten or uncared for while I struggled for quiet time, unable to compose a quick reply which carried the concern and love across the screen that I wanted to show. My uncle recently sent a text which was beautiful talking about the gratitude he feels for being a part of our wonderful, supportive extended family. I know this text would have taken time because he is similar to me and likes to craft the words to just right, and I still haven’t sent back a reply because a ‘yep, you too’ just won’t cut it. But now its much later, and while I’m sure he knows that the same love and gratitude flows both ways, I feel like I’ve missed the boat to reply to it properly so instead I carry around this little guilt niggle about a job still undone, an important deadline missed. And these are just the two recent examples that have come to me right now as I sit here. There are countless other notes I wish I’d sent, texts I wish I’d replied to, emails I compose in my head but don’t get written and stories unshared – and it gets worse the busier I am at work because there is no energy left to give to writing and sharing and thanking and loving.

So thankyou for sticking through the writing constipation and for just trusting that the words are there for you even if they are stuck inside my fingers yet to find their way to paper or screen. And I will try to get better at just writing, sharing, replying and making time even if work life is busy.

I’ll try to start writing.

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