There comes a point where we just have to write. Sit or stand, computer or pen, but write. Even if we don’t know where to start. Even if we haven’t updated our website since May and we can’t find the password or remember the last pieces we wrote. Even if we don’t know in which box the movers put one precious copy of Julia Cameron. Even if we can picture the cover of that book but can’t remember the damn title of it.
How many months can I keep calling myself a writer without writing?
I just read over my last posts (yes, from May) and, aside from the bubbling cauldron of internal overwhelm they brought back, I also feel I’ve abandoned you. Sometimes though, it’s just not possible to write. Sure, there will be people who write through their international moves and laugh at it and make it sound so fun and glamorous, and attach pretty photos to their texts and still manage to update their Twitter, FB and Instagram feeds regularly, but I’m not one of them.
I do not write every day. I have not been able to write every day.
Any available space I may have had in my head (which I actually thought was quite vacant) has been commandeered by the practicalities of moving my family from Australia to Canada. Even this morning, I walked down (ok, stomped) to the local MP’s office to ask them to help sort out the federal government’s error on my husband’s Permanent Residency card. Whoever did the document put my husband’s birth date in wrong. Without the correct info on the card, he can’t get health cover here, and since he’s travelling for work in China and Australia, he may have trouble getting back into Canada. The MP’s office has a direct line to the Minister, I’m told. They’ll know in a week if the government will admit it has made the mistake and what it will do about it.
This is not a one off. Every day I seem to be greeted with a new and exciting administrative or bureaucratic tsunami to sort out. Let’s see how long it takes the government. I hope they’re faster than CIBC (at least six weeks to get a credit card) and Rogers Telecom (several weeks and three phone calls and one visit in person to get the billing organised under one online account).
Maybe I should have confined those last two paragraphs to my morning pages, but frankly when the alarm goes off at 5am, I can’t think of anything to write. I stumble down to the kitchen, nose on high alert for any clandestine midnight cacas deposited by the snoring geriatric dog, and try to figure out which tea has the biggest caffeine hit and won’t make me jittery. I wish I were a normal person and could just drink coffee.
As I was, saying, I do not write every day. I wish I did. I wish I had the stamina of my 30-year-old self and used it to write ’til 3 or 4 in the morning. Even when I was 30, though, I used all my massive amounts of energy to rock climb and run and other things I can’t talk about here because my parents will read this. I wrote a bit, but not as much as I wish I had.
Don’t get me wrong: I am doing my Julia Cameron Morning Pages — also known as complaining about everything in between long vacant stares — and I’ve been doing something else. I’ve been posting one thing on FaceBook each day to document This Moving Life. I started doing it as a record for the book I’ll write about moving to Canada after two decades away and renovating an ancient house we bought without seeing (who does that?), but now I think I’ll use it to remind myself to keep my mouth shut the next time I’m tempted to say to my husband Oh it would be lovely to go live in Chile, or Finland, or Madagascar for a few years!
The problem with falling out of the habit of writing every day is that the brain becomes sticky and words become clunky and transitions cease to exist. The flow is gone and I have to work hard to get it back again. But I can’t linger because I only have six hours during school time to write and do everything else. This may sound like a big chunk, but it never works out that way. Someone (me) has to do the admin (see above), appointments, feed and snuggle the bunnies, make sandwiches for the really nice plumber and act intelligent with the architectural historian.
For months I’ve been toying with the idea of just writing my life here, unedited, openly, pretending that no one’s reading it, just so I can get stuff out of my head and hopefully lure a muse or two back in. It’s a lot of work to write everything long hand in my journals first, but I do love the feel of the paper and the scratch of my favourite fountain pen. I just don’t know if I want to be blatantly honest on a computer. I don’t even know if I can be that honest. Is it an infringement on my children’s lives? My husband’s privacy? What about other people, will they hate me?
So I don’t write every day, but I did write today. My fingers aren’t as stiff and even though the words are still sticky, it’s time to reclaim my head and figure out a sane way to keep writing while I settle my family into this new country and restore and renovate this old house.
And I’m not too proud to ask for suggestions. If you’ve been through this or you’re going through this and have managed to stake out some writing time, let me know. Share your secrets!
Happy writing just for today, xx k