April



After a rather rocky start to this month, I felt a very strong need for almost-total quiet and stillness.

So I decided to close my personal Facebook account, coincidentally for the duration of Mercury's retrograde phase.

The last time I took such a break was in 2015, and it did me a lot of good. 

If shutting out some of the noise (because at one point, it all transforms into a complete brouhaha of American/French/Lebanese politics and cats) did help, the lack of distraction provided by the ever-renewing content of Facebook made me realise something I have been ignoring for a long time.

A realization that came in bits, like the ebb and flow of the sea, but reached its strongest point a couple of nights ago, when I was lying in bed with a purring Julia cuddled in my arms, unable to sleep, thinking that I had everything I needed to be happy but feeling somehow disconnected from reality.

I was lucky to have a wonderful friend that I could text that night (in a long, incoherent string of blue messages). A friend who would understand because she’s going through the same thing, a friend who wouldn’t dismiss what I was trying to explain as depression and tell me I simply needed to get a shrink to prescribe me some Prozac (like many well-intended people would). 

I met that friend the next day, and she listened to me rambling in my sleep-deprived state and understood everything I said, making it even clearer to me than it was in my cloudy mind.

I guess that I could define what I’m going through as a block on both the creative and the spiritual level. A huge, mountain-sized block (« c'est un roc ! ... c'est un pic... c'est un cap !Que dis-je, c'est un cap ? ... c'est une péninsule ! ») that is nearly impossible to dislodge or break through. A block that has been building up for years, despite my attempts to ignore it and push through it. 

And now I’m facing it head-on, because it’s no longer possible to ignore the problem, or blame it on circumstances that are out of my control. Everything is in control, everything is aligning, and I can no longer make excuses.

I love my job. I love passing on my beloved French language and culture, I love the gorgeous Victorian building in which I get to work each day (and the endless stairs that provide me with a free, mostly-painless workout). My colleagues are all truly amazing and inspiring, and my students are simply the best.

But even if I see myself teaching for a long time, I know that my true calling is writing.

I knew it the moment I was a lost sixteen-year-old, and my wonderful high-school history teacher told me once, “You have a true pen. You need to practice it. Your talent is real.” Later, as I shared with her business ideas I was myself half-convinced of, the dear lady again told me again to drop everything and just write.

And here’s where the problem lays.

I feel guilty because at the age of 25, I feel like I haven’t accomplished what I promised myself, a long time ago, that I would accomplish. Which was to publish my novel, my “baby”, and make it a best-seller, and make a very, very decent living from it.

While my novel’s first draft is gathering virtual dust in the bowels of my computer’s hard drive, I feel like I’m choosing the easy way to make a living, and not pushing myself further to find the proper formula to dynamite the mountain-like block that makes me spend long, harrowing minutes staring at the blank page in front of me, or at a manuscript that needs heavy editing. 

But I don’t even know where to start, because I’m literally paralyzed when I open that document and look at my work, the work that was born out of true passion when I lived in Paris, the work that once flowed freely out of me years ago but that I haven’t been able to modify, work on, improve in the last four years.

I try to wonder what changed. 

What happened. 

Why I have lost this easiness of writing and creativity, even if my life has become easier and much more tolerable than back in 2011 and 2012. 

Why this block came to exist right with all the things that I used to wish for so much. 

The first thing I realised after talking to my friend is that I needed to take care of myself, something I realise I don't do enough, although closing Facebook, even if I didn't think of it that way, did count as self-care. (I will return to this subject in a future post, as it is very important.) 

After that, my friend recommended I read Elizabeth Gilbert’s book Big Magic: Creative Living Beyond Fear. In a rather funny turn-of-events, I realised I had already purchased it, but completely forgot about it. 

I began reading it, expecting yet another self-help book that would drown my exhausted mind in noise and that I would end up putting away after reading a couple of chapters. 

But instead, my mind was blown. 

Because that book made sense. It made utter, complete, total sense. 

I have not finished it yet (and I promise a review once I do, because if you're here to know more about the book, I'm aware this post doesn't tell you much) but I'm already feeling a small shift happening in my relationship with writing. 

And maybe that isn't going all Mother-Of-All-Bombs on my rock/cape/peninsula-sized writer's block. 

Maybe it's just a tiny little pickaxe. 

But it's fine. 

Because at this point, it is still better than nothing.
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