I have the urge to blog again, and I don’t mean blog as in “random nightly posts on LiveJournal” but rather blog as in “write some serious texts on one of the countless wordpress blogs I’ve started over the years.” Yes, there are at least three that I still remember the password to, two in English, one in German, and each given up after a couple of months. I tried fashion, I tried cooking, I tried travel (mostly during my semester abroad), and I tried decluttering/minimalism. None of these managed to grip my attention long enough to make it over the first months. And yes, this blog is one of the orphans forgotten along the way.
Forgotten, and remembered.
The urge to write at the moment, that’s more about reflection, and personal writings. Essays. Something I’ve never written before, at least not in a non-scientific context. This urge may well have been prompted by reading Virginia Woolf’s A Room of One’s Own which I took out of the library the last time I got books for my English exam, and a couple of her other essays. It may also have been influenced by more general thoughts about writing I have entertained during the last couple of weeks especially. Thoughts about being more open to experimenting with new forms of expression. Thoughts about trying out shorter forms of prose, or different forms of text altogether.
I always considered myself a novellist, and I still do. I have these incredibly long and complex storylines in my head, those myriads of characters, places, events, feelings. The trouble is, so far I haven’t managed to get them on paper in a remotely coherent manner. That is not to say that I haven’t written (although creative writing has been on a back burner for the last year or so due to uni obligations) – but I haven’t written regularly, and not coherently. My “novels” still consist of a dozen or so (probably more, the doc is about 100 pages now) of losely-related scenes and viewpoints, with huge gaps between them, and in two different languages.
All of this made me think whether I should probably start on a much smaller level. Like on a scale of about 1500 words, of an essay, a short story. Heck, I have even considered fan fiction, and there’s this horde of plot bunnies running wild all over my laptop screen whenever I turn on Downton Abbey. (Don’t ask me why this grips my imagination so much; maybe it’s because it’s basically history, something I know about and know how to do the relevant research for…)
More importantly, I have actually started thinking about writing as something I want and need to do seriously again. I haven’t done this for quite a while (at least a year, as far as I can recall) because my exams and papers took up just so much of my time. I’m bad at writing two different things at a time – be it papers or other stories – and I’m also bad at writing while I have a lot of reading to do.
I think, this has something to do with immersion. Immersion is extremely important for me when I write, and I’ve never written anything slowly, one page per day, or one chapter per week. This holds true for both papers and other writing, and it’s probably the reason why paper writing is so very exhausting for me.
When I write, I do nothing else. At least, nothing of much consequence. I manage to do the shopping, wash the dishes and go about daily life fairly normally, but everything else distracts me and makes immersion impossible. I don’t read (unless it’s relevant for the topic I’m writing about), I try to avoid meeting people, I don’t even watch series.
But immersion also works the other way round. When I read a book or watch a movie or TV series, I’m both intellectually and emotionally invested in the story, and very much so. Books can make me cry (and induce all sorts of other feelings), and so can movies and series, albeit to a lesser extend. While I read, I am transported to a different place – not necessarily the one from the book, just somewhere else – and distractions break that kind of magic. I can not – and believe me, I’ve tried – imagine what my own characters feel and think like while I’m still suffering or rejoicing with someone else’s.
Maybe I’m in the right state of mind now to try and do this little, but oh so very hard thing: to give writing more time in my life, while trying to retain all those other things I love. Maybe, the secret is called compartmentalisation. Writing today, reading tomorrow. Finish one story, give myself time to let the wounds heal over, then start with another. I love multitasking – I just have come to think lately that it might not be the right thing for me. What is right instead, I still have to find out.
Finally, I’m in the right state of mind to look forward to the process.