rockinlibrarian: (sherlock)
First of all, I would like to apologize to everyone else whose blogs I "follow," because unless you've posted a review of a relatively new children's or YA book (which I then make note of on my extensive collection development spreadsheet), I most likely have not read your blog for the past month. Unless you're Angie. Angie gets instant-read privileges on account of being Angie. NO OFFENSE, PEOPLE WHO ARE NOT ANGIE, you're all lovely too, but we can't all be Angie. And it seems hypocritical, because I like to think that all the people who follow ME actually read what I post, but when I can't manage to read other people's posts and I ACCOMPLISH NEARLY NOTHING ELSE, EITHER, I'm sure the much more productive people out there with their actual lives can't make time for this blog that only rarely actually says anything useful.

But that works out nicely, and brings me to my actual introductory paragraph, because today I have even less actually useful stuff to say than usual. I'll be going back to old-school LiveJournaling, emphasis on the "Journal"-- a ramble. The only reason it's not in my paper journal instead is I'd like to toss these thoughts out there, see what they bounce off of, instead of having only me to look at them and think the same old circular things about them. So right, busy folks, there are no useful librarian-esque tips, no life-changing philosophical pronouncements, and no gratuitous pictures of Martin Freeman in the rest of this post, so you can go about your business. But if you have a quiet evening and an open ear (well, eye-ear. Unless you're using voice software to read the internet which I suppose you could be doing), or if I am in fact YOUR Angie (in which case I am touched, honored, and a little worried by the responsibility), come on in! Here's what's been going on in my head lately.

This article has been hanging open in a tab on my browser for weeks now.* At first because it hit me too hard for me to finish reading right away, and then because I knew I wanted to share my feelings about it but I had to get AROUND to doing so, but since the whole reason the article hit me hard was that I CAN'T SEEM TO MAKE TIME TO MYSELF WRITE, um, here I am nearly a month since my last blog post. And that's BLOG writing. BLOG writing is one of my more prolific genres of writing lately.

Because of course it's not REALLY a time issue. If something's really important to you you CAN make time for it. Heck, all the writing articles say that. You have to make the time to do it. And if you really want to, you will. You can't not.

So what's wrong with me, anyway? Sorry excuse for a wannabe writer who won't even make time to write.

So yes, basically, if you don't feel like clicking through to that article, this is the part that punched me:
"But what happens here is that the desire to write when you know you won’t really have the time and head space to do it is painful. It’s an ache. And sometimes the only way to make it not ache is to shut down your desire to write. Stop the wanting. If you practice this, however, this tamping out of the creative impulse, you’ll perfect it. And once shut off tight, it’s hard to open again. There’s been a breach of trust inside of yourself."
[Bolding mine]

I've never seen that spelled out before. That's exactly what has happened to me over the past few years. I spent so much time ACTIVELY not-writing and telling myself that it didn't matter, that I've honestly lost all touch with it, but for this peculiar nostalgia-- this feeling that I USED to write, I USED to love it, and I've lost something that was once important to me. It honestly doesn't feel important to me anymore. I don't feel like I have any stories I desperately want to tell. There doesn't seem to be any POINT in Making Time to write because I don't even know what I'd want to write in the first place. And that wouldn't be a problem if it was really, deep down inside, TRUE. But it's not true. I can tell it's not because this paragraph hit me so pointedly. Something inside me still wants it, I just can't reach it unless, apparently, I'm asleep.

I mean it's kind of incredible how much storytelling my brain does when I'm asleep. I don't mean just that I have great narrative dreams. I mean that when I HAVE great narrative dreams, I start going at them with a red pen, actively editing them as I dream them, pointedly trying to turn the dreams into actual working stories. My subconscious must miss it, the process of writing stories. But as soon as I'm awake, the best I can do is to jot down the basics of the dream, if even that. I don't just lose the dream, I lose the desire to tell it.

The past two times I've been to Confession-- over the course of, oh, 15 years (bad Catholic, remember?)-- it was several years apart, two different locations and two different priests and two very different eras of my life, but both times I confessed basically the same sin: Sloth. Because Sloth is basically my Deadly Sin of choice-- even before I read about being an EnneaType 9 which outright LINKS my personality to Sloth, I knew it's what I'm most prone to. But anyway, that's what I said, I know I'm not living up to my potential, I know I'm not doing all the Good Things I should be doing, I know I've said "Nah I don't feel like it" to myself if not out loud too many times when I really should have made the effort. BUT at both those Confessions, both those two priests ended up giving me the exact same seemingly contradictory advice: I needed to remember to take time for myself.

I mean, right, don't I already do too much of that? Don't I already waste all my time clicking around the internet, reading (well, I did a few years back-- lately even that is far too active a pastime), napping, sleeping in, going to bed early, and above all else staring into space? I kind of took it as their way of saying "You're doing all right, actually," but there's more to it than that. The advice wasn't to WASTE time to myself, but to TAKE time. Actively use it for... for myself, I guess.

I wonder how much Enneagram theory those priests knew, or if not directly Enneagram-related, just a simple psychological connection: "Hey, if somebody comes to you and their Confession seems Sloth-heavy? That's a person who's out of touch with themselves and their own desires." It doesn't seem to directly follow, and yet both those things are classic Type 9 qualities, so by EnneaType standards a person most prone to Sloth is also most likely to lose their sense of self. The advice was basically, to use a cliche, to take the time to FIND myself. To find the things that TRULY MAKE ME FEEL ALIVE when I do them. I need to stop being overwhelmed by what the world around me is telling me I should be doing and decide for myself, instead, what I should be doing. Ironically, taking the time for what I want would make me a more active, a more productive, person, because I wouldn't be wasting all my time avoiding doing it.

It's just a matter of figuring out what I want, which is hard to do when I spend so much energy repressing whatever it is I want. Oddly, I can ALLOW myself to want, say, Martin Freeman, because I know ACTUALLY having him is an impossibility. But knowing something like what I want for dinner? How can I know that? I live with three picky eaters who all want different things, I can't possibly want something with three other people's opinions to take into account! If it's actually going to affect my life, I can't deal with it. I block out the ME-part. "Don't be selfish, Amy," I told myself when I was very young, "You are obviously NOT the center of the universe after all, so STOP WANTING THINGS." So I decided to ignore the Wants and now I can barely recognize them when they show up.

For so much of my life I hung onto writing as something I KNEW about myself, something I always would want, and something it was OKAY for me to want. The wanting was so strong at times that I gave it a word as a kid: writeritis. It's the opposite of writer's block. It's when I HAVE to write, just HAVE to because it's all about to burst out of me. But -- I hate to blame motherhood, I'd never trade my babies** for the world, but that's exactly when it started. Suddenly it was a hobby that had no point-- SEWING is a hobby I can do, I can sew useful stuff! Being online is useful, I stay in touch with friends and keep up with news and events! Reading is useful, oh, but only if it's a children's or YA book I can then be knowledgeable about for my career, or a nonfiction advice or self-help book I can use. So it's, you know, useful. Writing? Like I can sell any of it? Hah. If you can't sell it, what's the point? Not useful. YOU DON'T HAVE TIME TO SPEND ON NOT USEFUL.

So I squashed it down, and of course the irony is that if you actually tally up the minutes of the day I spend doing what, you'll find that I spend most of my time daydreaming. Not even useful daydreaming, just Zoning Out. Which is Not Useful. But it's the way the Sloth-driven Type 9 deals with this angst of having lost herself. So it only gets worse the farther I get from Doing What My Heart Really Wants to Do.

I'm getting better about the Making Time for Me thing, though. One of the biggest things that's kept me from reading blogs this month is the Zentangle book my mom gave me for Christmas. Have you seen Zentangle? It's trademarked, but the absurd thing about that is that it's HOW I'VE BEEN DRAWING FOR DECADES. Well, not exactly. Not in the Trademarked 11-Step Process with steps like "admire the paper," on square cards of the official Zentangle size with the official Zentangle-recommended pens. What I've been doing, according to this book's author, is more appropriately called "Zentangle-Inspired Art," which is of course backwards. Still, I enjoyed working through the book, following the official instructions to meet specific challenges, drawing just to fill a little card. Which was so addicting I always ended up doing two or three a night instead of just the "One a Day" the book suggested. It's described as "yoga for your brain," and while that's accurate in some ways which I'll get to in a minute, UNLIKE yoga it did NOT energize me and get me ready to face the world. Instead I just got lost in my pictures. I'd get lost while drawing them, and then I'd get lost staring at them afterwards. I liked being in that space too much. I liked watching something beautiful come out of my own clumsy fingers.

Yes, I actually want to do a basically useless hobby. It's kind of awesome.

But I learned something doing these-- not a drawing technique, necessarily, but a life technique. Seemingly complex drawings are easy to do if you just break them down into individual strokes. If you just focus on one small area at a time. Then you take those small focused strokes and combine them in ways that complement the whole. But you don't set out to draw the whole all at once.

It's the same with actual Hatha Yoga, I noticed (which is another hobby I've allowed myself because it's healthy and therefore Useful. It's so healthy that I often have to force myself to do it. I skipped today because I've pulled a muscle in my shoulder, but that's a decent excuse). When I first started yoga twelve years ago, I didn't know that. I'd grown up with the gym class mentality of physical fitness, where you had these goals to meet: touch your toes, do 5 push-ups, run a lap. So I thought yoga was about doing the poses. ACCOMPLISHING the poses. And somehow accomplishing the poses would restore health and peace of mind. But it's NOT about DOING a pose. It's about GETTING THERE. It's about paying attention to the muscles and joints and bones and breathing, figuring out how to make them work together to create the pose-- or as close to it as your body will allow at that moment. And then once you've gotten into the pose, you move into ANOTHER one. And then each pose fits together to complement the whole session. The pose, the session, isn't something static that is suddenly DONE, but it comes together in parts.

This may not sound very revelatory to some people. But I'M not USED to taking my time with each part of a thing. I'm a big-picture thinker (this is ALSO a classic Type 9 quality. Really, I'm textbook). There are many good things about being a big-picture thinker and I often think the world would be a better place if more people were able to see the forest instead of obsessing about a few particular trees. Some people really NEED to step back and take a look at the whole thing at once, at the way the universe fits together. But that comes naturally to me. Maybe that makes me wise. It might even make me prophetic. But it doesn't help me ACCOMPLISH much. If anything, it makes me unable to get started: I just stare overwhelmed by the BIGNESS of the Big Picture, with no idea how to get in. Again, it's a matter of not knowing myself, not paying attention to the small details inside me-- I need to focus on what's right here in me instead of what all the voices around me are saying.

That is how I will write, if I write, when I write. That's the fun of it-- the working out of each bit, the fitting it into the whole. That's how I can get lost in fully enjoying the act of creation again. It's a matter of starting, of finding that place to start. I know, with my brain, that I love it. I just have to believe in it again.

*Somehow I'm also more likely to read articles people LINK to than I am the posts of people I FOLLOW, I suppose because I always have the excuse that I can get to the people-I-follow posts later because they're in my Feedly. As opposed to a link in passing. But it IS sort of ironic.

**My "babies" metaphorically, emphasis on MINE not BABIES. I'm quite glad they're no longer literal babies, actually. Thank you very much.

Date: 2015-02-04 12:33 am (UTC)From: (Anonymous)
This is a test, because live journal has a habit of eating my comments.

Date: 2015-02-04 01:59 am (UTC)From: [identity profile]
this was Screened (because it was Anonymous) but yes, it came through!

Date: 2015-02-04 01:05 am (UTC)From: (Anonymous)
So, apparently I can't comment if I try to identify myself; I can only comment anonymously. I'm Kim from (Is there some mutual antipathy between blogger and live journal? Apparently we can't be friends!)

(Just so you know, I have tried to comment on previous posts, but have given up after long, eloquent posts disappeared into the ether. It's too bad, because I was very wise!)

You, as usual, have spoken the truth. I know very well how easy it is to shut down the "I want" faculty; it's a symptom of motherhood, I think; we just get so used to putting our own needs last. Great for developing selflessness, but on the other hand you can't nurture others if your own well is dry.

I also think we shut down our desire to write out of pure terror. At least, I do. The argument in my head goes something like "writing is so integral to my self-image that it would be devastating to discover that I'm no good at it. Far better to never do it at all than to do it and fail." Which makes no sense, but sounds good to my terrified ego.

Can I offer advice I wish someone had given me 20 years ago? Don't rely on your own motivation. Join something that makes you write. A writing group, a course—something that involves other people expecting you to produce writing, whether they critique it or not. I've discovered that the best way to deal with the Sloth aspect of my personality is to trick myself into doing things. Sign up for stuff before you can talk yourself out of it. (It's the only way I can do exercise!) And it's the only thing that seems to work to get me to write—though after a few years of courses and conferences, I've almost got myself a writing habit. But I still need my writer friends to email me and demand to know what I've accomplished this week. The whole writing as a solitary pursuit is a load of night soil. :)

PS: Zentangles? Amazing! I need to start doing this! (It's pretty much what I do all the time anyway, calling it doodling, but this is way more artistic!)

Date: 2015-02-06 03:22 am (UTC)From: [identity profile]
LIVEJOURNAL I AM VERY ANGRY WITH YOU FOR TRYING TO SPAM-FOLDER THIS (and apparently others--I'm going to have to search for them now!) COMMENT!

I am glad you persevered and tried to post it anyway. Thank you so much. It's good to know someone knows exactly what I'm going through. I think you're right that I'm not going to be able to do it without outside motivation/peer pressure/critique group activity! I will have to trick myself into signing up for one of those non-November-focused NaNoWriMo alternatives or something.

(Tricking ourselves into doing things is so Howl Jenkins-Pendragon, it makes me happy. In theory. Harder to actually do it).

Same wavelength

Date: 2015-02-06 04:52 am (UTC)From: (Anonymous)
This is Lysana from PerC.

Yep, this journal is pretty much how I feel about writing. I read that article you linked (actually when I got to it, then came back and finished yours) and the section you quoted was EXACTLY what I was going to quote in a comment.

I spent ten years Turning it Off.

I started writing again in 2012 and it's been fits and starts, but I've written 140k of novel (two drafts, neither finished and neither especially great) and probably another 50k of short story since then. I have been taking writing and editing classes and even found an awesome online writer's group (actually co-foundED, it's the ladies I blog at Readerlicious with).

And still, I struggle for motivation. I'm too tired. Mentally. Yet I stay up til midnight on the internet or reading a book (less guilt in the latter).

Keep writing! And keep me posted on how it's going. :)

Re: Same wavelength

Date: 2015-03-29 07:55 pm (UTC)From: [identity profile]
Thanks, if you ever come back and see that I've replied! I wish I'd replied sooner!

But it's been almost two months... and it's still not going much of anywhere. :P

Not anonymous! I'm a person!

Date: 2015-03-29 06:17 pm (UTC)From: (Anonymous)
So many "first of all"s!

FIRST OF ALL I didn't realize I am the only person who has instant read privileges! LOL! It is, as you say, an honor and a weighty responsibility! :-O I will have to try harder to write things that are worthy. And for what it's worth I have NO people with automatic instant read privileges--I do not have my own Angie as it were, lol--BUT YOURS is the only blog about which I feel a deeply pressing desire to catch up on when it has gotten to be too long. It was awesome last year when I had a job with an office and a computer where I could read your posts PRACTICALLY as soon as they came out. Now I'm apparently on a delay. But you've inspired me to get Feedly so now the RSS stream will wash over me on a basis that more resembles instantaneous. ;-)

And second first of all, your post is not whining at all!!!

And third first of all, I'm so glad I understand the Enneagram theory now and can be like "yes exactly" to what you say about sloth/zoning out/not being able to discern what you want (what you want = divine guidance for fulfilling your soul's purposes) (is that why they call it divining?). And also as you say it makes sense without the Enneagram just as an observation about humanity, that what looks like sloth can actually be a reasonable response to the panic of not being able to do this thing that one is being pressured to do. Come on, Priest!!! I've met one or two other 9s who have beautifully illustrated this to me -- and of course like all the types, we all have all of them in us to some degree...

And fourth first of all, or maybe just secondly -- I want to be in a writing group with you!!!

I'm no parent, but teaching also has that quality of sucking all the life force energy, oops, I mean filling all of one's time with others' needs and demanding the prioritization of "useful" hobbies over those that do nothing but feed your heart and soul and dreams. When I used the Wishcraft book to figure out what I wanted to do After Teaching, it came out that I really wanted something that left a little life force energy over for what I have been calling Art (though it's mostly writing). Amazingly, after the 1st six months in which I was too exhausted mentally to tie my shoelaces, it's now proving to actually do that!

And as a 7 I'm the opposite of sloth haha -- I always want to Do More Things -- and I feel it's one of the biggest, well, challenges in my marriage right now that I want to spend all my time Doing & Making Things vs. having marathons of Once Upon a Time (not that I don't also want to do that -- I'm a little bit in love with Rumplestiltskin -- ok that is a subject for another post but I recently realized that I was obsessed with that actor like 15 yrs ago and then forgot about him and then was like "why do I feel so drawn to this character??? It makes no sense..." ... I don't know if you watch that show, but anyway, I'm a little obsessed with the Dark One now). So anyway I have codependent tendencies completely apart from my Enneatype which make me freak out when it comes to conflict between what I want to do and what my partner wants me to do. Not the same as not knowing what I want -- more like feeling a panic that I'll be prevented from having it by outside forces that I can't face -- and that IS more in line with my type & my core fears. Incidentally my partner is also locked in a years-long life crisis about what he wants to do because he is also unable to discern, hear, and/or own his own desires and that's also one of our biggest challenges as a couple right now.

Ok I suspect Livejournal won't let me post this as one comment so I will have to break it up. Off to do that now! Lots of love to you!

To be honest, since you've been posting every day this month I have to admit you are not QUITE as Instant-Read Privileged as you had been, because sometimes you end up posting more than once before I finally get around to checking! But you're still definitely up there in the "within-three-daysish-Reads" category at least, which beats out most things by weeks and sometimes months! (Though Feedly will only keep something unread on the main feed for 30 days. So sometimes I might lose some of the less-necessary posts entirely if I'm being REALLY lazy about it).

Feedly is SOOOO nice for sorting. I have lists like "people I know" for when I want to catch up or "library stuff" for work, and then tags for "book reviews" and "program ideas" so I can get back to them at any time (also for work). It is a great aid in me making my ever-more-complicated collection development spreadsheets.

I love spreadsheets.


I sometimes feel woo-woo-y for bringing Enneagram theory up so much, but it keeps being so APPLICABLE toward all my life issues, I can't help it! And I always knew I liked 7s mostly because I envy their energy. I still can't believe it never occurred to me that you're a 7, when you're also all those things I LIKE about 7s! When I first read the 7 descriptions I actually was like, "7s sound so cool, but I don't think I know anybody who is one... maybe Maggie? Nah, Maggie might be more of a 2." :P It was probably my 9ishness identifying with you too much.

They play so many previews for Once Upon a Time during Agents of SHIELD commercials (the one show I DO watch on TV at time of broadcast), and they always intrigue me, but then I'm like, do I really want to get caught up in MORE television? And will the fact that the characters are primarily the DISNEY versions of themselves annoy me too much? Funny, I'M reluctant to get caught up in TV shows because it DOES cater to my sloth too much. Yay, passivity! So I tell myself, "Nope, that would be too much sitting around," and then I go off and sit around.

I WANT TO BE IN A WRITING GROUP WITH YOU, TOO, SO MUCH! Except that would require me to, you know, start writing again. Instead of just feeling nostalgic about it.


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