This Inspirer is late. Over a week late. The main reason for this is that I have been in limbo for several months, not knowing whether my husband would take a job in the Middle East with another company and we would be moving early this year. If he didn’t take the job we’d be off to Brunei for three months instead with his current company. Two great choices, I know, and I should have been grateful for the opportunity, but instead, not knowing was agony. Until I knew where we were going I could not plan anything, nor do any research and worse, I could not tell anyone either! Our future dilemma was the elephant in the room and it swallowed up my usual focus in one big greedy gulp.
This was the unappealing state of limbo. I stood back and watched it pervade my thoughts, my space and my life. Along the way limbo seemed to have stolen my muse.
I am not trying to be overdramatic here, but this state of not knowing was debilitating. I want to share this with you because I know from talking to my students and fellow writers that these periods of being betwixt and between can cause the kind of writers’ block that sweeps in like a tsunami and eradicates all normal thought. I want you to know that I have been there too. That I too can suffer from months without inspiration.
Often, I would lie in bed not really thinking of anything in particular, not even worrying about anything, but instead, I was acutely aware of a bleak and desolate thoughtscape that resembled a mountain without footholds or handholds.
Just before Christmas it was decision time. I knew from experience that writing in my journal would help me to make up my mind. In the past I have sworn by the power of speedwriting to unlock my innermost feelings. But still, I was reluctant to write.
Half-formed stanzas forced their way into my mind. I knew I had the makings of a poem there and that in writing it I would break through the block. But still I did not write about the elephant in the room. In some warped, self-sabotaging, way, I chose to remain locked in the agony of limbo rather than write my way out of it.
During this time my son wrote a poem about his writing, in which he said:
I write into the reluctant corners,
like a silhouette finding its candle.
He had hit the nail on the head. Writers need to write about the things they don’t want to, about elephants, tough decisions and pain. It is only by forcing ourselves to crawl into the darkness, pen in hand, that we can find the light and answers we crave.
By the time this insight landed in my lap, we had made our decision and it was too late to write my way into the reluctant corner that may have shed light on our solution. We are going to Brunei! And I am able to write the Inspirer at last.
I am ashamed to admit that I chose not to write at a time when writing was the thing I needed to do most. Life can be like that. You may be relieved to know that I am human too.
So, to by way of apology to my neglected muse I have resolved to look back at my life and write a list of ‘reluctant corners’ and start writing about them in my journal, one after the other, not in any special form, just words and sentences on a page. I will write towards the darkness and in that darkness I will find light. I’m sorry, Muse, I’ll make it up to you.
I am happy to say that I have already started writing and you know what? It works! It feels good to give those dark and dusty places a spring clean.
Am I going to share with you what I wrote about? No. That’s the great thing about writing into reluctant corners. Whether we share our writing with others is up to us. Now, if you knew no one was going to look at what you write, wouldn’t that be liberating?
Why don’t you try it?
All the latest news, views, and writing tips from Jo Parfitt and the team at Summertime Publishing
Sign up to Summertime's monthly newsletter for your free copy of So You Want to Write a Book?