Much has been written by writers about the lonely nature of the writing life. I find I write most and perhaps best when I am alone in Big Sur. I have always been very self-disciplined, at least until last year when my mother had her stroke. I wasn’t able to write my way through the pain of 2011. I was distracted by the emotional trauma all of my family were suffering due to the stroke, and the impact of my being away from home for so many months helping my mother. 2012 dawned and I was ready to fight for my mind-space and get back to the discipline I had established. This would mean reading for at least 2-3 hours a day, and writing for around 3 hours a day. This super reserve passed away alongside my beautiful step-father, Hugo. And now, today, this day in March, not the previously hoped for day in January is the beginning of this year’s writing life. I’ll need support and encouragement this time around. My self-discipline is often hijacked by depression and sadness, and a never ending stream of sinus and chest infections. I’m sure I am “run down”.
I have a new home-office. It is in the same room as before, but now it is refurnished with absolutely gorgeous book shelves and filing cabinets, and a hard-wood floor that glows gold and rich. I feel encouraged to spend time in this space. I am surrounded by books that motivate me – books written by friends, and books written by the “Greats”. Virginia Woolf stares out at me from the shelves. I try to mimic her discipline.
I’m back to work on the memoir. I’m marrying some of the chapters I wrote for Kippers and Bombs with new chapters which focus on my relationships with my parents, but predominantly with my mother. As you know I only post rough drafts of chapters on the Blog, but it’s a good starting point, particularly when I get feed-back from you.
My writing life is solitary rather than lonely. I think it’s worth the distinction. I am alone in the physical sense. I write without the company of others. Mostly the solitary nature of my writing life is the solitude in my head. I write and re-write lots of my work inside my head. My thoughts tumble ideas, rearrange the sequences of events, and challenge me socially, ethically and creatively. When I am working on this current memoir – The Same Size Shoes, I am challenged emotionally as I relive many aspects of my childhood and early adult life. It is during these challenges that I feel lonely.
Yesterday I started my working day with reading and research for my book. I picked up a book I hadn’t looked at for a long time. It is Motherless Daughters, The Legacy of Loss, by Hope Edelman. I am very fortunate to have been taught by Hope during my MFA in Creative Writing. Hope is an amazing woman as well as an amazing writer. When we think about mother loss we typically think of the death of a mother. There are many other ways in which daughters lose their mothers. I’m focussing on daughters, sorry guys. I’m sure you can think of many. Clearly divorce is one way. Loss through severe illness and alcoholism are other ways. While I write my memoir I am exploring the nature of the ongoing mother-loss I experienced throughout my life. Stay with me if you will. Follow along with excerpts to follow.