Saturday, 28 December 2013

Unblocking

Laurie Penny posted a beautiful piece this morning in The New Statesman about her father dying and how it’s affected her relationship with the written word, and this struck such a chord.  When dad died, I was writing at the time in the form of a diary of my pregnancy with Katie, which kind of inadvertently became a chronicle about the process of dying. 
 When I look back on it now I’m glad it’s there, but it’s a dark thing and very different to the pregnancy diaries I wrote with the other two.  When he actually died I wanted at first to start a new blog about the grief, an attempt to make something tangible out of our relationship.  It wasn’t to be though, there were the obvious organisational practicalities which took up most of my time, and I’d also taken on a stupid amount of freelance work around precisely an area that I knew he cared a great deal about (the 2010 general election). So writing up this project became a very practical labour of love producing something that felt good enough for him. 

And then, two months later, came Katie and all the chaos and inertia of a new baby.  That would have been the obvious time to write, but it suddenly became evident that the only thing actually holding up my sanity was not writing about anything personal.  The only thing that was clear was that I didn’t want my children to remember having an ill mother, and more than that I didn’t want them to spend the rest of their lives tip-toeing around the subject of their grandfather, of whom they already had so precious little.  So I said goodbye to the writing, packed it in a little box, and it is only now that it feels safe to be starting to unfold it.

I wonder if this is why I am so slow at blogging, and why I feel like I’m not justified to take the time apart to sit down and write unless I have ‘a subject’.  Which is just nonsense, the blogs I love the most are the most un-self-conscious, wide-ranging ones. And the ones that will go to unexpected places and stop and think there.  Anyway, I hope this year that things will be different.  Back to Laurie’s article, my reading has gone the same way too, 80% of what I’ve read over the past 3 years has been factual - as if this is some way protected me from feeling too much (it actually has).  But it’s a loss, and not a loss my dad would have endured  - the man who loved books so much that he kept them three-deep in bookshelves in our house. Much to my mother’s despair.  And who despite being a professor had the most wonderful anti-intellectual approach to reading, and would happily read Jackie Collins inbetween The Guardian and academic papers. The only person in the world that I dared let see the rambling manuscript I squeezed into the naptimes of my first baby, and who never once laughed, but told me to keep going.  To find a voice.  It feels like it's time to let go of the fear. 

Hmm. I didn’t actually know that was in there.  This was going to be a post about xmas.


15 comments:

  1. I enjoyed this post, you are a natural writer. Sorry for the loss of your Dad, he sounds like he was a great man. Keep writing! :)

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  2. My regards to your late Father, you write when you like and about what you like and I am sure he will be smiling either way.

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  3. This is a lovely post...and what I love about reading blogs, that you never know what you are going to find or the direction it will take! Thank you for sharing!

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  4. Sometimes it seems that the best thing is to just write, which sounds daftly simple but from doing that great posts like this come and turn out taking you elsewhere from what you thought you were going to write about. I'm not one for New Years Resolutions but 'letting of of the fear' sounds like the perfect start to a New Year, a new start x

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  5. so sorry for the loss of your dad, my friend just lost her father over Christmas, my heart is breaking for her. I started getting into blogging more and more when I was going through a personal loss myself, I didn't really intend to write so much about it but it really helped me xx

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  6. Sorry for your loss.
    I always wrote a diary and the death of my mother was too much and I stopped. I wished I'd been able to carry on as my brother was only 14 and doesn't remember anything.
    Hope you have a Happy 2014 xx

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    1. Really sorry to hear that, it makes it even more unfair when you were so young losing your mother. I can't imagine how you got through it. Wishing you peaceful times too xx

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  7. It's a lovely post. I always find writing can help, even without a subject just writing how you are feeling and see where it ends up. It can be hard to share though, i do all of that on a private live journal not in my blog, as i'm more comfy that way.
    So sorry for the loss of your dad.

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  8. There are times when writing and reading are a wonderful escape / release and others when it's all too much. Either way it's here and so are we xxx

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  9. Thank you for these comments, they are all so helpful and insightful. It has been a relief really to know that I'm not the only one who has reacted like this, the line between being repressed & over-disclosing seems thin sometimes. Really appreciate you taking the time to read & comment. x

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  10. I'm sorry for your loss. That's a lovely piece of writing xx

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  11. What a wonderful post. The process of writing and how/when it emerges is fascinating - this is a really thought-provoking piece, and beautifully written. There are so many things I want to write about, but can't (often because they concern people who may be upset at being written about). Your post has inspired me to get out there and find more interesting articles (like Penny's) to bounce my thoughts off!

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    1. Thank-you! I know what you mean about holding onto things because people would recognise themselves ... it's a difficult one & partly why I'm trying to keep my blog anonymous (not that it would take a genius to find it!). Your posts always have a beautiful narrative & are so well crafted in making the reader reflect (were you a journalist in a previous life?), so if you feel like you're holding back on some subjects, the potential is immense. I'm sure there must be a way around it, & you'll find it. x

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  12. What a lovely post, I'm so sorry for your loss. I lost my mum a few years ago now and sometimes it hits me all at once that she's gone. Hugs x x

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    1. I'm sorry to hear about your loss, Cass. It's a strange and unpredictable thing grief, isn't it? A friend once told me that when she lost her mum she realised there was an unofficial adult orphans club, and that makes sense now. xx

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