The unburdened writer

Silk’s Post #115 — Okay, so I’m on my mindfulness campaign for 2015. I don’t suppose this is something to be embarked on as a “campaign”, but that’s how I roll. When I challenged myself in the new year to think more about what I do, and why, and how (on the theory that you are what you do, no matter what you say), it seemed so … contemplative. Kind of a calming, zen-like thing.

But I’m not quite ready for zen … maybe next year. What I’m definitely ready for is awareness. The kind we all had effortlessly as children, when we’d look at something and see the actual thing, in all its glorious detail – not just an icon to categorize and dismiss, the way we busy adults do: “Oh, yes, another tree, another sunset, another alien spaceship – seen it, been there, done that.”

I want – no I need – to cultivate that kind of Technicolour awareness again. It’s essential for a writer (or any kind of artist). In fact, I think it’s essential for any kind of human being.

So I thought a good place to start would be my office, where I write. Slowly, I swivelled my chair to scan the smallish, nest-like room. At 180 degrees I became uncomfortably aware of this thing looming behind me. It covers a whole wall.

Aaarrrrrrgh! It’s my Bookcase of Shame.


Omigod, how did it come to this? See that table in front, the one with the basket? That’s to accommodate all the books that won’t fit in the bookcase. Mind you, I give myself a few points for organization, since I reserved this handy space only for books on writing.

Uh, yeah, that sounds like a hoarder argument. Okay, no points.

bookcase-of-to-dosIt wouldn’t be so bad if that were the only bookcase in my office. But, noooo. Here’s another one – this one stacked with recently read, or to-be-read books. Ouch, okay, my mindfulness just gave me a little nip on the ankle. A lot of them are books I want to read or re-read. Soon. Some of them have been there for a long time.

Call it my Bookcase of To-Do’s.

I’ve been writing in this environment for months, no, years. More importantly – and regrettably – I’ve been hanging out in this environment and not writing nearly as much as I want to. And I’ve been somewhat oblivious to all these books that have accumulated around me. Of course, they didn’t walk in here on legs. I bought them. I brought them home. And they’re not going to walk out on legs by themselves.

So there they sit.

Silently looming. Condemning my lack of writing output. Challenging me to become aware of them. Daring me to add my own book to the shelf.

Oh, I’ve been aware of them all along, alright. Subconsciously. But now that I’m this new mindful person who’s aware of them consciously, I wonder whether all this book debris has been slowing me down, disturbing my focus at some barely-discernable level, like a shadow in a half-lit room, caught in the peripheral vision.

A burden.

My Bookcase of Shame is, of course, not the only burden I’ve been dragging around, or surrounding myself with. It just happens to be a handy symbol for a writer who’s trying to be more mindful. We all have them, things we keep for inexplicable reasons that we don’t really need or want – whether physical stuff, or habits, or ideas, or unnecessary responsibilities, or self-imposed barriers.

We don’t even notice these things anymore, but they sit on our minds like weighty clutter, gathering dust and begging for attention. They can suck the energy out of our creative spirit.

What seems like a comfort zone is sometimes a dead zone.

For me, it’s time to unburden, in hopes of freeing up my inner writer. It’s my first new year’s lesson in awareness and mindfulness … from a bookcase.

Aaahh, yes. A good start. De-cluttering my bookcase will be an easy fix. Some of my other life clutter – well, I may have to dig a little deeper. It won’t be a short campaign.

But all that will have to wait one month while I fly away to practise my awareness skills in a faraway place where everything will be totally new to me. And the only book I’m taking with me is this one …



3 thoughts on “The unburdened writer

  1. Decluttering can be so liberating! I’ll be doing more of it this winter to prepare for the move into the new house this spring. Have a wonderful time in New Zealand—I’ll bet the inspiration will be amazing!

  2. Pingback: The Unburdened Writer (Outdoors) | 5 Writers 5 Novels 5 Months

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