I have become increasingly frustrated with my dreadful habit of being brilliantly enthusiastic about something and then suddenly being overwhelmed by the need to move on to something else, despite my yearning to finish the project at hand and the inevitable disappointment I always feel in myself for abandoning it. A bumble bee comes to mind, droning from flower to flower, taking what it can … except little old stripy has one up on me since he will faithfully take all the pollen he can get before moving on to the next fragrant target.
After being told once that never completing something is a sign of anxiety, I was heartened to the point where I avidly dissected and analysed various aspects of my life, as though being told such a thing had given me permission to be so fickle. For a time afterwards, I made a real effort to stick to things – be it writing a story, a bit of sewing – until I’d finished what I was working on, reached the target, passed the finish line … but it took such effort! It didn’t take long for me to be back to doing the same thing that I’ve done for the past 20 years (and I’ve just worked out in my head that there is evidence to suggest I have indeed done this for a good 20 years: start something with gusto, only to be distracted by something else which seems more important, more attractive, more fulfilling to do). It is soul destroying in a way, denying myself the feeling of achievement that only comes with having completed something, be it a piece of sewing to hang on a wall or present as a gift, or digging the garden or doing a bit of DIY.
The past few days I have felt really low – seemingly I am trapped in a cycle where I am on top of the world for 2 weeks, then fall down, pick myself up again, climb to the top of the world, then fall down again – and yesterday I started questioning whether I ought to see a doctor. Why? Well I’ve not been facing my responsibilities the way I should, criticising myself to the point where I have no energy, and my ball of anxieties is definitely rolling down a hill at full throttle and gathering every worry-coated blade of grass it can on the way down. Maybe I need counselling. Maybe I need anti-depressants. Maybe I just need a good kick up the arse!!
But then last night, for the first time, I finally did what a few friends (at different times) have said might be worth doing which is to sit down and write about my life. I have always thought there was no point to it! I am not a diary-writing type person. When I write something I think of the reader, or write in the hope that there will at least be a reader! But who will want to read about my life?, I thought. What is the point in writing about what I’ve gone through if it’s never going to be read, if I’m not going to attempt to have it published? My incomplete novels and collection of plotlines are all sat waiting to be finished! I said I would submit three chapters by June and I haven’t done it, so why waste time writing about my life when there is so much to do?
But last night was different. Last night I needed to talk. It was too late at night to pick up the phone to a friend – and I’m not really the sort of person to do that anyway (besides, who would want to be greeted with hi, I thought I’d ring and tell you about my life because I need to!), not to mention the fact that I am trying to be more positive and aware of others after it becoming quite obvious to me that I’ve turned into one of those downer people types … you know, the ones who never really have anything happy to say, always going on about this having gone wrong, or how they have still got this to do, moan moan moan. It was too late to bother my mother, and besides I’ve put on her that much lately that she’s tired; what right would I have to disturb her just so I could selfishly talk about things in a misguided effort to make myself feel better? It would most likely only make her feel stressed and miserable in the process, and isn’t an option since there are things I have never told anyone before. What I needed was indefinable anyway.
Today, however, I think I know what that indefinable something I have been needing lately is, and it is so simple that I’m slightly embarrassed about the amount of thought it took to come to such an obvious conclusion: I just want someone to listen. I want someone to hear. If I’m brutally honest, I just want a bit of sympathy and to be told that I’m doing okay, that everything will be alright. Because I don’t seem to have it in me to convince myself of that. And, I suppose, now that I don’t have a partner to listen to my ramblings it makes the need to be heard all the more crucial.
So before I knew it, I realised that a monologue had started in my head … my own voice telling someone about my life, about me, about … well … things! So I turned the laptop on and started typing. An hour and a half later I stopped, telling myself I must because I needed to sleep. Don’t think about who will read it. Don’t feel bad for writing this instead of your novel. Don’t think! Just do what feels right, right now! So that’s what I’ve done. I’ve started yet another project, left a trail of incompletion behind me yet again while I embark upon something new … except this time my new project is blissfully easy; no thinking needed, no notes, no checking on plotlines to be sure that I haven’t made any glaring errors in characteristics or what a person looks like, no checking a pattern to see if I’ve sewn the wrong colour or put a stitch in the wrong place … the writing just flows. Because it’s me. And the computer screen faithfully listens, absorbing all the words I pour into it without judgement or comment. It feels … pretty damn good actually!
So today’s revelation is this. What if my habit of flitting from project to project is simply what I do? What if I have been constantly chastising myself about being non-committal, never seeing anything through when in actual fact that is just a dimension of me which developed over the years, for whatever reason? Maybe it’s how I work, focusing for so long on something and then needing a break from it so that I can go back to it?
But the biggest thing I am thinking is this: for all the obstacles I seem to be putting in the way of finishing my novel (which I know subconsciously has a lot to do with the fear of finding out whether I am good enough to fulfill my dreams of being an author), what if the very thing I have put off for so long – writing about myself – is the very thing that I need to do the most in order to expunge my deepest feelings, record my thoughts, my memories, my life in order to get some sort of closure? What if the biggest story I will ever write is actually my own story? Maybe before I can complete my novels – fictitious beings and events essentially borne from my own life experiences and personality – before I can write about anyone or anything else, I need to write about me? So that’s what I’ll do.
Will I see this new project through? I’ll try. Will anyone read it? Here’s hoping. Will it help me? I’m damn sure of it! 🙂
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