Lately, each time I’ve sat at my computer the words haven’t come and I’ve ended up faffing. Yet my mind is overflowing with ideas and things I want to write about. So, in the end, I pulled out my notebook and pen and made a list of all these things:
I want to write stories from my maternal family history, not from a perspective of blame but from understanding—I know that the generations before me bore their own legacy of grief and shame, and sadness and loneliness, and powerlessness to change their situation. It manifested as anger and abuse and the legacy continued, one damaged child after another, for goodness-knows-how-many generations.
I want to write about my paternal family history, too. About my grandmother who came to our house almost every day of my childhood. About how, when we walked in the door after school, she would be waiting for us with afternoon tea on the kitchen bench. How she stood by the back door and never took her eyes off us while we were in the pool, even though she couldn’t swim and we could. How she hummed as she dusted the ornaments and peeled the veggies, and how she never got angry even when we were naughty.
I want to write about Dad’s father, my grandfather, and how he used to roll a Tally Ho paper around a matchstick and burn the end so it looked like a real cigarette, and then give it to us so we could pretend to smoke with him. How he would pour some of his tea from his cup onto his saucer and blow on it until it was cool enough for us to sip. And how vividly I still remember him even though he died before I turned six.
I want to write about my depression and how I thought it was something I would have to carry for the rest of my life but how last June I read a book on childhood trauma and cried on every page as I read about myself. How it was in those pages I finally learnt the cause of my sadness and anger.
I want to write about how I searched for and found a safe person to whom I could tell everything. How I told that person about my sadness, as well as my anger and other things I could barely put into words. How that person accepted all that I said without judgement. How vulnerable I felt disclosing these parts of myself I’d tried to keep hidden. But afterwards, how I felt as if a great weight had been lifted because I could finally stop trying to hide parts of myself of which I’d always been ashamed.
I want to write about how finding someone who accepted me, my good and bad, taught me that I could accept myself. They taught me, too, that being a flawed human being is okay.
I want to write about how, once I accepted my imperfections, I felt whole for the first time. How I used to feel damaged and scarred and as if I wasn’t as good as everyone else, but now I feel normal and worthy and good.
I want to write about how accepting my flaws has helped me to accept the flaws in others. How I can look beyond a behaviour and see the person and the place they’re coming from.
I want to write about how upset I get about kids who are abused and who then break the law or take drugs or end up in jail. Because I identify with them and I know what makes them do what they do.
I want to write about how I’ve reached a stage of life where I’m at peace and happy and feel whole and complete, and that despite everything sad and bad that’s already happened and that might happen in the future, and despite all that’s going on in the world at the moment, life is good, people are kind, and our planet is beautiful.
And I want to write about writing. Because of all the things I’ve done on my journey to this place, writing is the thing that started it all. Putting my thoughts, memories and stories into words has helped me see where I’ve come from and the person I really am.
I want to write about all of this, but the words aren’t coming. But maybe they just have and that’s all I need to say.
That was really touching. And raw. It made me feel lots of different emotions. I recognised some of this stuff. Don’t stop now Louise. Just find the bit that hurts the most and start.
Thanks, M! I just read this quote of Joyce Carol Oates: ‘I don’t think that writer’s block exists really. I think that when you’re trying to do something prematurely, it just won’t come. Certain subjects just need time. . . . You’ve got to wait before you write about them.’
That’s what might be happening. You’re right, too, in saying just pick one from the list and start. Thanks for your comment. x
You are the woman of goals and gazanias. Or are they zinnias? Both are equally beautiful. Thanks for sharing.
Thanks, Lily. I think they’re gazanias, but don’t quote me. (By the way, I’m hoping to get to MR for your launch!) x
oh – that’s so exciting. I’ve got everything crossed the stars align for you to make the trip. Will you have company for the drive? Will you stay over? I have a friend nearby who has AirBnB and lets out a unit at her house – I could ask on your behalf if you like? Let me know.
Emily might come with me, depending on Uni commitments. We weren’t going to stay, as my kids still have school, etc. But I have every intention of being there. 🙂
Well if that’s “not writing”, bring it on! A deeply moving post, Louise.
Thanks, Jacquie. I started by writing, ‘I want to write about …’ and listing all the things I wanted to write about but couldn’t. And it turned into this post! 🙂
Funny how the words come when you stop trying to make them come. When you let go and let them flow. All these wonderful images. All these wonderful stories just waiting for you to put them together, without too much trying.
Thanks, Elisabeth—the words, ‘I want to write about …’ turned into a good writing prompt! And I will write them all one day I suspect, but maybe the fuller story isn’t yet ready to be written. Nevertheless, I shall attempt them, one-by-one.
Well, the words have come, like jewels on the page. A memorable and moving short memoir. Keep writing!
Thanks, Christina. 🙂 It’s not ready to be told as I want to tell it yet. But that day will come …
Dearest Louise….you have said it. I cried because I feel your sadness too. But how honesty shared is a gift to celebrate. Thankyou.
Thanks, Maureen, for your endless support and patience. xx
I’m sure you’ll have more to say on those important and emotional topics but for now I just want to say thank you for writing, I love the goodness of your heart that comes through in your words, and I hope one day we can meet xx
I have no doubt that one day we shall meet, Fi. 🙂 (I read your new post yesterday and haven’t had a chance to comment yet—will do shortly …)
Thank you for this beautiful post, Louise. It’s terrific. Sounds like your paternal grandmother was one very special woman who had a huge influence on you.xx
She was a very special lady—I’ve probably told you before, but I modelled Ida on her.
Louise, that is beautiful,brave and profound and moved me greatly. It is a poem with pictures. Thank you.
Thanks, Helen. I wrote it quickly (Freefall, actually), as you can probably tell. I’m now looking at it as my list of things I need to write about. As Osolomeoh said above, I can now make a start on each one!
And I want to read about all of those things that you want to write about, so I sincerely hope you will keep writing, Louise. xx
I’m about to make a start on them, Maureen—as soon as I’m back from buying my fifteen-year-old some new clothes as they seem to have shrunk. His shoes need to have a party and invite his trousers down, as my grandmother used to say! I’ll probably start with the ‘safer’ topics first, and work up to the bigger ones. Thanks for commenting! x
You have so many stories. This was a trickling stream of consciousness emanating from a much bigger river of experiences. I loved the way it flowed Louise. .
Thanks, Pinky! It was stream of consciousness writing, which I find often helps me when I’m stuck. I love your phrase: ‘A trickling stream of consciousness emanating from a much bigger river of experiences.’ You, my friend, have a beautiful way with words. 🙂
These are perfect words, Louise, thank you for letting them to come just as they are. There are lifetimes, generations, hurt and hope in these lines. And many more stories to come. I look forward to those stories blossoming on your blog.xx
Thanks for visiting, Gulara. I’m starting on my list of things to write about, now that I have one! You’re right, there’s much ‘hope’ in this piece. x
I absolutely love this. The words have definitely made it to the page. Beautiful and simply put. ???? Lovely post.
Thank you, Sarah. I’m glad you enjoyed it. Yes, the words are finally flowing again. x
I love this post, Louise. It’s one of my favourites. You and words are made for each other. Keep telling the stories you want to tell.
Thank you, lovely friend. When I decided to make a list of all the things I wanted to write about, the words just tumbled out. Then the difficulty is whether to press ‘Publish’ or not! But thanks for your encouragement. x
Gosh, that’s wonderful, Louise. The whole gamut of emotions from one end to the other. Your paternal grandparents sound just wonderful. I think you have so many stories there, and my heart is full just thinking about them all.
Thanks, Helen. Yes, lots to write about that will keep me writing for a few years to come yet, I suspect! You’re right about my paternal grandparents—my grandmother was the most patient lady I’ve ever met, and I’ve not heard anyone ever say a bad word about her. As for my grandfather—I think he was a little irresponsible, but we kids loved him! 😉
I just want to read everything you write.
Thanks, Jenn. I aim to keep it coming. xx
Louise I just stumbled across this post and quite timely for me too! This is exactly how I am feeling right now. I guess as the saying goes “when the student is ready the teacher will come” …in the form of this blog post. I love your candidness xx
Thank you, Aggie! This post was meant to be a list of all the things I wanted to write about but couldn’t. ‘What I really want to write about …’ is a great writing prompt and definitely worth a try if you’re feeling stuck. xx