What am I doing here? (Part II)

I was telling Steph last night how a mother at school mentioned that she liked to read my blog (hello Mel) and how relatively odd it felt that she did – I’m sure she’d be the first to admit that lack of opportunity means we don’t have all that many conversations of an emotionally intimate nature.  It started me wondering what on earth blogging is about, and why specifically I am doing it.   A comment from Gypsy King on my last post about the essence of what this blog is trying to do, added further fuel to the thought flames.

I’ve kept it no great secret (ha) that I have suffered from depression over this past year.  I started receiving the full smorgasbord of medical help from the beginning of October, and started the blog in December.  I know that my mental health is a great deal more robust since then, and I’m not rushing back to read those first posts.

It’s partly about writing, I know.  Anti-depressants, or depression itself have acted as an explosive charge on my creative brain. Just by way of illustration of my artistic failure I use that analogy like it’s a good thing, and it’s the opposite.  My novel, the first draft of which I finished last year, is almost untouched.  I promised my agent that I’d have a decent version to show him round about now, and I don’t.  I just hope he can be patient.

I seem able to talk about my own feelings and experiences at the moment, but to hop on the wing of my creative bird is impossible.  I’ve lost confidence in my ability to do it. Blogging as a form of expression feels more like writing my first book, Watching Petals Fall, which I wrote about the experience of Juliette’s illness and how we survived after she died.  It’s honest, probably too much so, and when lovely people like Mel mention that they’ve read my blog I feel a tiny bit naked, just as I have done when others say they have read my book.  That makes me sounds increadibly naive because if I’m not writing to be read, then what am I writing for?

It reminds me of an older writer friend of my parents years ago who said in a rather forthright fashion when I reluctantly answered that I hadn’t written anything recently I felt able to show anyone, “Why Geves, writing and then not sharing it is akin to masturbation!” I think I was about eleven at the time.  Freddie (Daniel) Green wrote books now out of print about an imagined ancestor of Billy Bunter’s, and factual books about William Cobbett, and growing vegetables. I was very fond of him, despite his inappropriate sexual anaologies.  He would read my inevitably pathetic offerings and be endlessly critical, and yet he encouraged me. And I think he was probably right, about writing I mean.  It’s all very well honing away, but sooner or later you stop being a writer unless anyone actually reads what you’ve written.

I don’t know what I am at the moment however, as blogging is really the only writing I’m doing.  I think part of this episode of depression came from the fact that working on Juliette’s book was a driving force for me over some critical years of grieving.  It was my touchstone, the good thing that had come out of her death. I used it I realise now, to escape feeling the full impact of her death and when I finished it, there was nowhere left to run. Valiant efforts by my agent to ignite committed interest in the publishing world having stalled for the moment, I wondered why I had written it at all.  

I don’t wonder any more, because I know that the reason I began it was not for anyone but my own children to read.  It was an apologia for the way I had been when their sister was ill, and the way I had acted after their sister died.  Only when I’d been writing for a while did I imagine I had anything worth saying to other readers, bereaved parents or otherwise.  It will still be there for my children, whether it’s published or not.  There are stories in it that will remind us all of happy times we might otherwise have forgotten.

I’ve always been a confessional diary-type writer, a dubious, self-regarding art form I ‘developed’ from writing your actual diaries.  I do wish that I’d kept the tortured travelogue of the four love-lorn months I spent as a student in the States.  I saw and experienced many beautiful and interesting things, but mainly I eked ink over the page in description of my broken heart.  On second thoughts, maybe it’s a blessing that the whole lot got binned, together with school photos and old love letters after an argument with my mother.

I have an idea for a new novel, based on my experience of losing Juliette but taking it to the nth imagined degree.  The question is, do I have the courage to write it?

The real answer as to why I’m doing this, is the little girl in the picture below.  She taught me that no matter how long you live, life is too damn short to be afraid.

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10 thoughts on “What am I doing here? (Part II)

  1. Geves,Like you I often blog as a kind of therapy and it's no coincidence that my writing has got more extensive and better with my gradual recovery from a crippling breakdown a couple of years ago.I've not read your books but know from your blog that you are a gifted writer. I think a blog is a valid and important form of writing, if done well. I also agree that if no one reads your work then it is not writing (and I had this dialogue with the Storycollector a while back too). I regret that my main blog has to be invite only which seriously restricts the readership, but as a teacher at a PR obsessed school I could get into a lot of trouble or even sacked if students or other staff happened onto it. The thing is Geves, that people do read your blog and do respond to it and that makes you a writer and makes your blog a valid expression of that writing. Be it Mel, or me or the Storycollector, your work is anticipated, read, enjoyed and digested. And how marvelous is it to have this dialogue, where you can see the effect your latest post has had? I know millions of people aren't reading, but people are and you have an impact upon them.I wish you luck with your other writing projects and remain very happily one of your blog's regualr followers. Take care!

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  2. Gypsy King, thank you for being so lovely about what I write, and for telling me about your own experiences. I read your comment late last night, and it made me cry! If my blog is ever half as readable as yours, I would be very happy. I know you've made it so for all the right reasons but it's such a pity it has to be private.Gx

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  3. I don't have anything to add to what GK has just said, except to say that I hope you do have the courage to finish the book, or even start a new one. Your writing is amazing: I was talking about it with a friend who has just joined your site and we were saying how we always feel emotional when we read your posts. That is a very powerful gift. Pxx

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  4. Geves, this blog is a wonderful expression of your gift for writing, and one I look forward to every week. You have had so much courage already, I would urge you to have the courage to write the book you can imagine. You are so talented that you will be able to leave your reader with the themes that run through your head, so that they can take them and make them their own, and use them to illuminate and give direction to their own lives. That torch and compass! I know I took that from WPF when I read it. Thank you for your writing, Geves. xxx

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  5. Tricia, you've been such a brilliant champion on my writing journey so far, thank you for not giving up. I only wish I had one tenth of your story spinning gifts. xx

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  6. Dear Geves – I agree with Tricia, that this post is a perfect example of what a talented writer you are. When the time is right for you, I know you will be able to work on your book.Love, Sally xxxxx

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  7. hello mummy I think you are a very talented writer in lots and lots of ways.love you!celestexxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx

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  8. Thank you, Baby! I think you are very talented at so many things too, like riding and writing your stories. Love you so much. Mummy xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx

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