Thursday, 11 February 2010


This year is turning out to be about other things than I imagined it might be. This year is about being. It is about now and not the past or tomorrow.

I've stopped writing lists. This is a positive move for me because without lists I can't worry about things I haven't done yet.

I'm shrugging off life's difficulties instead of trying to control them or prepare myself for them or worrying about how I would cope if this happened or that happened.

When the unexpected happens, like snow or my sister coming to live here, like the submission of my book not working out or being offered information about a beekeeping course, I'm taking note. I'm trusting that the unexpected is teaching me something or bringing some new way of being into my life that is what I need at that time.

And these unexpected changes or events have been easier than I thought to adjust to. They have made me think that perhaps there are many more changes possible or available to me, and suddenly the unknown or the difficult seems interesting, freeing in some way and more positive than it has ever seemed before.

Losing my phone with my whole calender and contacts in, was actually a positive experience rather than a stress. I suddenly felt free of everything.

Same with a few negative things that have happened to me recently. Nothing terrible, just disappointments etc. It has made me reflect.

For example, last year I spent a lot of time and energy trying to 'push myself' as a writer. Writing reviews, writing my blog, writing short shorts for the purpose of working towards a collection, organising readings, getting involved in events and writing projects, growing a network of other writers I could talk with/exchange work with, sending out poems/stories to as many magazines as possible, trying to get more publications, sending a collection to a publisher, posting links to everything I was trying to do, trying to 'market' myself.

Through a series of experiences, being a writer suddenly seems less important than it was before. If I never publish another poem or story, I can still write for myself. Perhaps my writing will become more interesting, more useful to me, more therapeutic again (where it began), perhaps I will love it more, perhaps it will lead to another kind of writing, a new wave of writing that needs no publisher or audience. Perhaps it will become intimate again, my personal enjoyment, remain a hobby instead of a career. It's very freeing.

Towards the end of last year, I started to become tired of always working towards other things, always developing, writing lists, working out what I needed to do to get somewhere else, instead of perhaps just being here, enjoying what I have. It was like I needed to stop and breathe, not just with my writing, but everything really.

Lists of what I needed to do on the house. Lists of books I wanted to read, films I wanted to see, places I wanted to visit. Things I want to achieve in my career, how I can become a 'better' writer, a better person.

For over a month now, I have stopped all this. I'm working on accepting life as it is right now, not worrying about what I haven't got or striving for it. I'm trying to be more zen, if you like. For a while now, I've been working on some emotional issues, and I want to focus on this for a while, let go of some old patterns, and just be myself, not working towards a better me all the time.

I've decided not to push my writing, in fact I'm taking an open-ended rest and once I've completed some commitments I have, a reading in March, some reviews, that's it as far as I'm concerned. No more trying to develop myself as a writer. I want to write crap, write anything, write a diary, write a poem if I wish, write for writing's sake, no ambition, no pushing, no chasing, no submissions, no presenting myself to the world as a 'writer'. I want to stop being all of my constituent parts (writer/social worker/friend/etc) and just bring it all together and if I feel like writing one day I will, and if I don't write anything for a year, then fine as well.

There are many wonderful things around me, and I want to enjoy them, allotment, cats, work, friends, walks, food, house, cooking, reading, taking photos, working on little projects, sleeping, and I want to do whatever I want to do at that time (or not). More spontaneity. Embrace the difficult and the strange. Observe more. Listen to everything around me. Enjoy small pleasures.

So, I might be around less (or more), I'm not sure. I intend to nurture the important friendships I have, strengthen what is good in my life right now, and we'll see if this new approach helps/works/lasts.


sonia said...

What a beautiful post- so invigorating. I wish you all the best in 'being'.

Bob Jacobs said...

Whatever else you do in your life, you have to enjoy the here and now, have to appreciate the moment you're in, because that's what we have. The future isn't here yet and may never arrive, and the past becomes hazy with distance.

I hope you don't let the writing go completely. For most of us I think there's a balance to be achieved between enjoying the here and now and striving for something more. Perhaps for you the balance hasn't been right.

I'm not that familiar with your work, but I came across Lindy in the Brace anthology, which was a good read, and I enjoyed listening to the mpeg download, too. It reminds me of Carver's Tell The Women We're Going. If you never write again, thanks for Lindy.

annie clarkson said...

Thanks Sonia, the allotment relly helps, of course...

Bob, thank you. Really kind words, I appreciate it. You're right, we do onnly have now... I plan to enjoy it, hope you do too x

Megan said...

You're right - out of all the reasons to write, loving it is the one that truly matters. And yet it can be easy to lose sight of that in the midst of the submissions and promoting and everything else.
I am very pleased to hear you are freeing yourself Annie, though from an entirely selfish point of view, I would be very, very sad not to read more of your unique and beautiful work.
But you do what you need to do,
mostly be happy,
Megan x

Tania Hershman said...

Good for you, Annie, this is a very inspiring blog post. I hear you about all the "marketing" etc..., it is unbelievably wearying. I hadn't thought about it not being in the "now" though, but you are right, there is definitely an aspect of that. I had this strong urge today to get more out there, get more out there... but really, that's not the joyous part. Really, it's just writing whatever and whenever. Enjoy!

annie clarkson said...

Thanks Megan, you're lovely x

Tania, thanks, glad you understand x

Rachel Fox said...

I have these conversations with myself about writing all the time!