Debbie Bennett Wants to Want to Write ...

It gets harder each month to contribute to a blog on writing. Mostly because I’m not doing any. Why is that? 

I don’t know. The last ‘proper’ thing I wrote was a short story for an anthology that wasn’t accepted. No matter, I’ll place it somewhere – or at least I might if I actually subbed it anywhere. Apathy rules at the moment and I can’t blame everything on Covid, although not having the motivation of monthly writers’ group meetings doesn’t help. I can’t do Zoom; I mean I can, obviously – I have a laptop and I’ve used Zoom for work and other stuff – I just don’t connect mentally with online meetings. I don’t like the necessary enforced structure, the absence of body-language and being able to engage with everybody and not just with the image of whoever is speaking. And watching myself on screen is just horrible! 

No, Covid and the resultant changes to the balance of life and society are horrific, but not the real reason. Nor is the fact that Andy cut down to 4 days a week work a while back – and then home-working and now he’s taken early retirement. I don’t have my own study since the house move 3 years ago, but I could use Andy’s now he doesn’t really need it as he’s currently working on a lead-light-window restoration job he’s taken on. I could write when he’s down the pub, I could have written in the flat down the road (not even any distractions there with no tv and no internet!), but I didn’t and anyway we sold that in May. 

Not property then. I haven’t written ‘properly’ for about 3 years which probably does equate to the house move. Or maybe to when I got to the end of my 3+3 book series and realised there was nothing more there – not for the main characters, anyway. There are only so many fresh hells you can drag a character through before it all becomes a rehash. I could spin-off another character and I can think of at least one that has more stories to tell, but then I worry that everything becomes dependent on reading in sequence and the first book is very dark and very gritty – even though it does get better, honestly! I need to come up with something fresh and new - something to get new readers into my books - and I'm just not in that headspace.

So here I am at the 11th hour again – writing about not-writing. And I'm starting to see patterns. And I'm mooching around on facebook and check out a couple of new groups and suddenly I realise what this complete inability to concentrate on anything much actually is. I sat on the sofa yesterday watching tv, knowing I had to put fingers-to-keyboard by 6th and I just didn't care enough to bother, to be honest. Which is why I am literally forcing myself today while I watch the tennis...

Bloody menopause.

I think I've written about this before - probably around 3 years ago when it all started. When I realised it wasn't a house move that was throwing my life off balance, but my own body letting me down. Again. Going to see the doctor back in 2018 didn't come with an insurmountable list of problems - why is it I can go into a shop, see a hairdresser and even a dentist face-to-face, but I have to be nearly dead to be in the same room as a doctor? And my original HRT became impossible to get hold of due to some international shortage of product, as if nobody noticed or anticipated that women still get older.

Anyway. Clearly my current prescription is no longer working. It makes a whole lot of sense and I have an appointment with a nurse in a day or so, but my wonderful female doctor has now retired and I just hope I don't have to battle the system again just to be allowed to feel normal. Whatever normal is.

The problem so far as this blog is concerned, is that I don't want to write. And that's scary. I want to want to write. I really do. Because if I'm not a writer, then what am I? But at the moment I just don't. I have zero interest in making stories.

I'm still reading, thank God. But everything else is spiralling down this hole and I work, do house/family stuff, watch tv and go to bed to lie awake and not sleep much. Rinse and repeat. And I think that Mother Nature isn't really maternal at all is she? We're biologically programmed to spend our late teens and our twenties making babies, and our thirties/forties making rounded human beings out of them. So when we hit our fifties we are biologically redundant. So this should be the time for us. Kids have flown the nest, we are financially secure, what's not to like?

Apologies for the whinging. But we don't talk about this stuff enough. I'm thinking I need to go somewhere, do something to fire up my mind again. Not conferences or conventions. Harrogate etc just makes me feel inadequate. Maybe a few days on one of these residential writers' courses? Does anyone have any recommendations to hunt down my mojo and force it to come home? All suggestions welcome!

Here's s totally irrelevant image of my daughter with a her craft stall at a recent fair. Glass is a bit of a family business now!


Susan Price said…
So sorry to read this, Debbie -- you are such a good writer! You must get back to battling with the medical establishment, obviously, but as one who will live on paracetemol rather than go near a doctor, I can hardly talk.

Hope someone has better advice -- wishing you luck!
I completely agree with you about Zoom - I thought I hated real-life meetings until we had to do everything online. The only Zoom meeting I've experienced that's been at all satisfactory was a breakout session I happened to be in during a larger local meeting about traffic restrictions! There were only five of us in the breakout group including the facilitator and we all stuck to the putting hand up to speak rule. (I think it was Teams actually not Zoom at all, now I think about it)
Sorry, Debbie, that was a bit of a red herring.
I'm sorry to hear about this. I wonder if it's not 'just' one thing but the combination of all the things you've mentioned that have caused this, though of course not feeling right physically is probably the underlying cause. Although I haven't had any difficulty retreating into various fantasy worlds to write, I've had trouble during the last 18 months or whatever in coming up with topics to blog about because none of the things that have been happening in real life have been fit to share with anyone.
I feel guilty now about my post here that went out yesterday as I have been so hyperactive with my writing lately. This has got much worse since I retired from my day job but I think it's actually age-related - I really only started writing seriously when I was 60 so I have a sense of only having a limited time left. Taking part in writing challenges has definitely kept me going and sometimes going in for competitions. I've entered Kindle Storyteller a couple of times even although it was more or less pointless!
I hope you can find a way forward soon as this sounds very frustrating.
Peter Leyland said…
Hi Debbie

Really sorry to read this, that you're feeling so low about writing and things. You have done so much for me personally this year by inviting me to write for Authors/Electric. My writing world has been transformed! Thank you.

I think residential writing courses might be a great way to find yourself again. In April, you may remember, I wrote a blog for AE about an Arvon course I attended. Fantastic people and thinking/writing time. Arvon have never failed me. I do hope things get better for you.
Sandra Horn said…
So sorry, Debbie - I've been there too. I did find getting prompts helpful, but that's poetry. The best thing - for me, at least - was to leave it all behind and walk somewhere I love, leeting the joy of being there wash over me and just 'being' with no thought that I ought to be writing. Just regrouping. If that's too slushy, I apologise, and it may not be for everyone but it has freed up the creative flow more than once. What ever you do, you will write again.
Bill Kirton said…
Hi Debbie.
Like the others, I was sorry to read this and, as a male, am definitely not qualified to offer advice or any legitimate suggestions. I guess the nearest I get to an equivalent is having to come to terms with the idea of an ‘old’ me. (NB, despite that word ‘equivalent’ I’m definitely NOT implying any parity between the two conditions.) So, all I can offer is a (probably, or at least, seemingly) frivolous comment. When you mentioned the ‘need to go somewhere’, it struck me that, as a writer, I’ve often felt that there’s an accessible ‘somewhere’ that has little to do with geography or psychology – it’s the place where one’s characters (or potential characters) are. I’m not into mysticism or magic, but things happen in that ‘writing space’ that I can’t really explain when I step outside it. Everything you’ve written so far suggests that you know it well and I’m confident (or, at least, fervently hoping) you’ll rediscover it soon.
Reb MacRath said…
Dear Debbie...what a drag to hear this. And yet I relate on so many levels: yet another of my attempted personal blogs has died out...the thought of doing anything by Zoom gives me the creeps though I know it's a skill I must learn...and I find myself forced to give myself Al Pacino style pep talks to stay on track with outlining the WIP.

The fact that you know the old spark is temporarily MIA should give you hope though. You may be ready to break fresh ground with a brand new series. Something entirely different. You're a wonderful writer. Never forget that. Fight on!
Debbie Bennett said…
Thanks guys! All much appreciated. I am contemplating an Arvon course that looks interesting... :-)
Debbie Bennett said…
And booked! Not until November but something to work towards...
Wendy H. Jones said…
Debbie, I'm sorry to hear this. I had a bit of a COVID shock slump but I'm back on it. Not wanting to write but be ghastly. I hope the Avron Course gets your writing juices flowing again.

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