Begin again

More than two years have passed since I wrote my last post. I have always been an inconsistent and ambivalent blogger, in no small part because “blogger” is an inelegant, philistine, and silly-sounding word, and I will come up with the most trivial and haughty of excuses to not write.

Other excuses are less snobbish and more tender to the touch. Like many people, I have an acute case of imposter syndrome. When the internet is teeming with people more knowledgeable, more experienced, more original, more talented, and more authoritative than me, it’s hard to rationalize time spent scratching and poking at the keyboard with my witchy pointer fingers.

What do I have to offer? What do I have to say? So and so is already doing it better. I don’t really know anything that I didn’t learn from somebody else. Why would anyone care about or take the time out of their already saturated and over-stimulated life to listen to my thoughts and perspectives?

Etcetera, etcetera. Ad nauseam. Retch.

Still. In the past few weeks, I’ve felt the need to create some rituals and regular practices for myself. Nothing too Satanic, at least not yet. It’s just, I’ve been feeling (as I recurringly do) a little lost and directionless and, though it’s not very sexy, I’ve come to see that I thrive within routine and structure, do best with a list of doable things to be done on any given day.

A return to “blogging” may be unwise, uncouth, uncharacteristic, and largely unjustifiable from a “good use of one’s time” perspective, but it’s certainly doable, and in various ways that’s the criteria I’m working with right now.

A year ago this month, the company I worked for went out of business and I was suddenly, though not surprisingly, laid off from the pays-the-bills job I’d been whining about (while increasingly thankful for) for the previous five years.

Since then, I’ve been proofreading, copywriting, and (bizarrely) ghostwriting from home and, while I wouldn’t describe it as meaningful or creatively stimulating writing, I have learned a lot about writing and feel…not so much as though I’m moving forward professionally…but that I’m not moving backward or away from where I want to be, which I have done for so many of my thirty-eight years on this planet.

One of the more difficult lessons I’m (still) learning is around discipline and time-management. The client that I’m working for is flexible and doesn’t impose super strict deadlines. In the absence of a traditional boss or manager, I fall into periods of procrastination about the best way to proceed with a chapter, or find myself nitpicking over straightforward paragraphs, the work expanding to fill the available time for its completion and all that. It’s not that I lack a work ethic. It’s more that I’m allowing work to seep into my life and take up more time than it really needs to.

In short, though I feel I’m making significant strides in other ways, in the past few weeks I’ve fallen into an all-too-familiar pattern of working, eating, sleeping, and watching the occasional movie or TV show, and I need some things to do outside of freelancing (and gardening now that spring is finally here) that feel focused and purposeful. And yet, while there are so many many higher things that I want to do, or say I want to do, for some reason I don’t or can’t or simply shan’t do them.

This is, literally, the story of my life and the next thing that I’m going to set my sights on changing. Returning to my chronically neglected novel, and looking for more fulfilling work, will be the most significant change that I make; and returning to this blog will, I hope, also be a smaller part of that change.

And yet (surprise, surprise), I’ve been procrastinating about what to post for my first post. Or, to be more accurate, while I know, vaguely, what I want to write about, I’ve been procrastinating about the best way to do it, and am somewhat questioning why I feel the need to write about what I want to write about in the first place.

Two years is a long time. I feel as though some explanation is owed: a reason for my absence, or an account of what I’ve been up to, something to bridge the gap between then and now, and create a semblance of continuity. For some reason, I feel that nothing I will write or say in the future will make any sense unless you have an idea of what’s been going on with me the past two years. Which is an insufferably narcissistic, self-indulgent sentiment, salvaged only by the fact that there’s a good chance nobody will actually ever read this or any other post.

With that in mind, perhaps it’s best to postpone the “bigger” post I’ve been procrastinating on, and pause before diving headlong into details of my life or expanding, this second, on particular thoughts and topics. For now, I guess it’s enough to say that the last four (and especially the last two) years has been a period of challenge and great change. In some ways, nothing or very little is all that different; yet in other ways, everything has changed and I am not the person that I was four or even two years ago; and yet in still other ways, I feel as though I have never been more myself or that I’m finally, actually, the person that I’ve always been, this entire time.

Weird stuff. Contradictory. Dissonant. Tough to put into words and, no doubt, when I finally do get around to sharing the particular story I have in mind, it will be very anticlimactic and unremarkable to most readers.

For me, however, the transformation (for want of a better word) has been the most important of my life and opened up my world in the most marvelous and demanding ways. For maybe the first time in my life, I feel passionate and purposeful and, in spite of my previously mentioned misgivings, that not only do I have something to say but that I have a responsibility to use and raise my voice, regardless of whether others are doing it similarly and better or, indeed, whether anybody out there is listening or not.

For maybe the first time in my life, I feel passionate and purposeful and, in spite of my previously mentioned misgivings, that not only do I have something to say but that I have a responsibility to use and raise my voice, regardless of whether others are doing it similarly and better or, indeed, whether anybody out there is listening or not.

Perhaps that’s a good place to end this “begin again” post. I promise I won’t always write so obliquely. I’m not trying to be mysterious or confusing or evasive…at least not on purpose. It’s just hard for me to know quite where to begin when it’s been so long since I’ve written anything here, and when I’m conscious that I’m largely communicating with myself right now! In my next post, I’ll try to speak more plainly. But for now, after weeks and weeks of procrastinating about this post, I’m going to stop over-thinking it and simply press Publish.

Photo by Linus Nylund on Unsplash

6 thoughts on “Begin again”

  1. I am happy as long as you are writing, no matter what it is. Thanks for sharing your journey and I am sure you already know this, we begin and we stop and we begin, and we stop, and we begin, again. And after awhile, we just know it as life.

  2. Dear Deborah, Hello, and welcome back! Whether you know it or not, you’re one of the voices I’ve missed over the last few years, and it’s great to see your writing again. And I wouldn’t worry about whether or not you’ve said it as Shakespeare would say it (or perhaps Virginia Woolf), the thing is that you’re “back out there.” In fact, I speak to that point particularly: over the last five years or so, periodically I leave for a while, usually for a long while, from the Internet posting stuff; then, a little while later, I publish a solitary post meant to be my return, tagged or categorized (I can’t distinguish one from the other) “back out there,” or “hello, readers,” or some such. Then, with all good intentions (and we remember where all good intentions can lead to), I go for another long space without getting much posting done. So, this is a longish response meant to reassure you that you’re not the only one who starts well, but occasionally backslides and doesn’t get it all done. But try to stay with it now (and I’m doing so too, reading some books online that I mean to post on soon, instead of posting my own poems so much, as I have been doing for the last few years), and we’ll correspond. Maybe we can have a mutual admiration society! Keep well, and keep writing.

    1. Hi Victoria, thanks so much for taking the time to send me a message. I was going to say I’m amazed that you would remember me, considering I barely write anything here, but I recognized the name “shadow operator” immediately and so I suppose I shouldn’t be all that surprised that you would remember me too. I’m afraid that, as well as falling out of touch with my own blog, I have fallen out of touch with other people’s too – this weekend I’ll make some time to catch up with your writing in return! Best wishes, Deborah

  3. Hi Deborah….good to hear your voice again. And your process. The creative soul has a way of nudging (or shoving). I look forward to your next post. I am not blogging these days and I moved from photography to drawing. The routine issue for me has been harder than the drawing!. I cushion the whole deal with a few warming rituals (and rewards – oh yeah)….getting to be quite lovely but it took some time. In New Zealand we say Kia Kaha. It means stay strong. Until your next upload….all the best.

    1. Hi there! If I could have one talent in the world it would either be to be able to sing or to be able to draw. I’m afraid I can’t do much more than stick-men and stick-women and stick-cats – I envy your ability!

      I’m familiar with the phrase Kia Kaha. When I was writing my masters dissertation in Ireland many moons ago, my supervisor was a professor from New Zealand who went home for the summer, so I was emailing her with drafts of my thesis every month and the occasional question, none of which she ever responded to.

      I was pretty stressed out about the whole thing. I basically stopped emailing her until one day I had this “Yes or No” question that only she could answer as my supervisor. She responded with “That sounds good Deb. Kia kaha!”

      Well, at the time I had no idea what that meant, so I just stared at the email completely dumbfounded. My question could literally be answered with a Yes or a No, so I was so stressed out to receive this very strange and ambiguous non-answer two weeks before my thesis was due. Kia kaha? Kia kaha? What in God’s name is that supposed to mean?! How can this possibly help me?!

      I thought she was absolutely bonkers and kinda rude to be honest… But later I found out that she had gone back to New Zealand to be with her sons as she had been diagnosed with breast cancer. I felt terrible. I wish someone had told me, or that they had reassigned me to another supervisor, as clearly she had much bigger things to deal with than a graduate student’s thesis and silly questions.

      Anyway… I didn’t get the best grade on that dissertation but she forced me to foster some self-sufficiency and figure things out as best I could by myself. It wasn’t the best dissertation ever but it also felt good to go with my gut instincts and write what I wanted to as opposed to what a professor was advising me to. Since then I have often said “Kia kaha” to myself, and laugh when I remember my initial reaction to her email.

      Also, she’s doing great – alive and kicking in NZ with her little dogs and making me smile on Facebook, so it all worked out in the end 🙂

Leave a Reply