I silenced myself this morning, when I heard the anxious voices creeping in and haunting me before I had even opened my eyes.
Your novel is terrible. I can’t believe you’ve wasted 13 years writing it on and off. Now you can’t even do your podcast because you’re so busy writing something that’s not even worth it. They said.
I make a point of giving myself compassion before I get up in the morning, especially on days like this. I was supposed to get up, get dressed, get out to the British Library to keep writing, to keep challenging myself to go further with my characters and my scenes. How was I going to get anything done today, when so much of my energy had already seeped, through the pernicious thoughts of my mind, out into the pillow like blood that slowly drained from my body? Where was I going to go without half of my whole heart? Gone, vanished into the ether, like a sculptor who should never have been given tools or permission to carve.
I gathered my energy, somehow. I made it out of the house a whole half hour before I usually left, sick of sitting and wallowing while I needed more of myself to mother me, and care for myself like the great creator I was building myself up to be. I got to my laptop before 11am. Something I rarely do. I cut out all the upcoming scenes of my book that didn’t seem right to me. I took the scissors, and cut and I rerouted the story. Then I put on my coat, packed my backpack, and headed out into icy London rain.
Across the street, onto the tube, I bit my nails nervously. What was going to come out of me today? Anything? Could I produce anything?
I put in my headphones, and a familiar song began to play. The jagged waves of the guitar. The desperate male voice wailed back at me.
And sometimes you close your eyes and you see the place where you used to live, when you were young…
A tear rolled down my cheek. It brought it all back to me. I remembered why I was writing it all. I remembered what I had lost of the years, the place where I had grown up, the people and the faces and the expressions and the hopes that I had been so determined for so long to capture in their entirety. Nostalgia for all that I had lost pierced my half broken heart, cursed by my own self-criticism. Emotion overwhelmed me. It brought me back to the beauty of youth. The beauty that I still was so determined to transfer onto the page, every day, forever if it took that long. Through my tears, I rediscovered the reason for why I was creating this thing, or what it had morphed into. To capture a brief moment in time, a brief breath of life, between the innocence of youth and the longing in adulthood, before it was lost and could never be recovered.
I wrote this piece on Day 2 of Ann Randolph's "UnMute" writing course.