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.
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