Not to shine in use

Rewind two or three weeks ago to Russel Square tube station, me fighting back tears as I accused my husband of a thought crime and he responded to my mad.bad.sad lashing out by generously offering to spend the afternoon with the kid so I could connect to myself. Sometimes his goodness kills me.

I said yes but I felt guilty for not checking in with myself before I took it out on him. I should have acknowledged how frazzled and crazy I felt. I have been doing allot of childcare (standard- it’s summertime) but I had also had allot of time for myself. I’ve recently started taking boxing classes which I adore and I have had quite allot of evenings of meeting friends for drinks and time to read in bed and nap and go wild swimming and do yoga and cook elaborate meals. I’m not running on fumes or living on scraps and yet I WAS STILL IN A BAD MOOD

But maybe one thing is missing from that list. Which is writing. I stopped writing for a few months because I wanted to goad myself into doing something with my psychegeographer content. I told myself I wasn’t allowed to write anymore essays till I’d done the slog montage of finding agents and carefully reading through and editing and writing cover letters. I thought maybe that would motivate me to slay the hydras I’m scared of: boring admin and critical editors and rejecting agents. All the usual monsters encountered when on personal Odyssey.

It turns out writing keeps me sane. When I don’t make time to write I suffer. I feel like a jammed photocopier. I feel like experience is souring inside me. I swallow life and then it just sits in me, unthought about and plugs/clogs/numbs/builds like residue. It’s gross, it’s ugly, more than once over the last few weeks I’ve mumbled to myself (pretentiously), ‘how dull it is to pause/to make an end/to rust unburnish’d not to shine in use.’ Rather than the narrative of artist as mad, I am finding evidence that I’m writer-as-sane. I shine in use. I am a better mother and lover and friend when I make time to write. When I finally let myself sit down and put some words onto a page a few weeks ago, I felt relief. So in addition to setting sail on a little publishing odyssey to see far away isles and discovering whether someone might want to bind and print my lunatic ravings about motherhood and psychoanalysis, I’m going to keep writing my essays and publishing them regularly on my blog. Maybe not once a week but often enough. I don’t want to make any money- I don’t need or want to make a living off my writing. I have a job I adore and a little flat in the ‘burbs and I have a room of my own and enough space and leisure time to think and I have a voice and lots to say- but what I do need is audience. Good readers make me into a better writer but mostly I love the intimacy of autobiographical essay writing, the way it opens me up and connects me to others, the way I shine in use.

Copyright Diana Smith 2019, Thameside PAUL London

The title of this post and the poem I’m quoting from is Tennyson’s Ulysses

2 thoughts on “Not to shine in use”

  1. I’m happy to see you back! I feel like your writing helps explain to myself some of things I’m feeling about parenting. Thank you.

    Liked by 1 person

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