Cunning obstructions

by DRM

I worked my way out of a 20-year phobia about writing and now I don’t know what’s what.

When I write with focus and simplicity, I feel the energy of understanding. I finish the session glad that I wrote something.

Then a stretch passes where I don’t get the glad feeling and I don’t write as frequently. I have projects that are conceptualized, one large one that is underway, and make no progress. I don’t get up early in the morning to do a writing exercise. In the night, when I mean to spend a little time on the big project, I end up surfing the web or reading or watching a TV show that I’ve downloaded on my laptop.

I don’t know what to think about it.

I mean, for 20 years, I wasn’t making no progress. I just went away from writing.

Over the past two years I worked my way around to an understanding that has been liberating and confirming, shedding a chimera of self-doubt to accept what Barbara Euland calls the “necessary and life-giving” qualities of creative work.

Now, when the momentum of creative work falls away I run through a set of hypotheses: I am procrastinating; something in my big project is stopping me; I am distracted by my professional work and the logistics of our family life; I am thinking about too many things.

But the puzzle is that I am not doing something that is restoring, that I enjoy for the interior walk, the teasing out of the thread of understanding, the push of excitement, the moment of finishing and knowing that you figured out why a person blinked, or what made them sigh heavily in the check-out counter at the grocery, or how they came to be sitting quietly at the end of a stone wall, on an empty country road, with a Barney’s bag at their feet.

Then, as I wonder what I need to do to bring the work back to center, I realize that this must be the phobia again, working its obstructing ways. What a cunning little emotion! Even as I venture the cause to myself, my mind throws down a barrier of instantaneous thought: “Oh no, that’s not true, you got over that.”

But I didn’t clearly. Because I begin to do the creative work again, a little bit at a time, and begin to feel the balanced purpose again, and begin to hear clear thoughts as I string one word after another.

Some rhythm returns.

The phobia is thwarted, for now.