Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Brain Blank

I am suffering from a malady I can only describe as Brain Blank. It started Sunday and like a nasty cold, I just can’t shake it.

I had a very short writing Friday this week. I unwittingly offered to help with the Materials Science information table at an orientation on Friday afternoon. It only ran for two hours, but I forgot to add set-up and pull-down time to the equation. I started my half Glorious Friday working on poems due for my writing class. I watched the time, setting and resetting the alarm, trying to squeeze every last second of writing time I could into my morning. Finally I had to succumb and spent the next three quarters of an hour rushing about like a bat out of hell. Once showered and dressed, I remembered I also offered to bring sweets for orientation hand-outs. Cursing myself under my breath for my accommodating suggestions, I grabbed the car keys and ran out the door, with barely a goodbye to a very confused Louie. Now I am not the best driver in the world and when you add rush to the mix something is bound to happen. As I attempted to back out of the driveway I accidentally veered into the grass, or rather mud. This maneuver left two massive ruts where level ground should be. OOPPPS!

After much huffing and puffing I eventually got out of the driveway, arrived at the shop in one piece and picked up the sweets. Returning to the driveway, I had ten minutes to walk to work. Keeping my eyes averted from the disturbing state of my front garden, I half galloped to campus, arriving breathless, disheveled but on time! Yeah me!

I smiled at people and when not answering questions about what our major was, what jobs a student could hope for and the one most parents asked, “How much would you earn?” I was making lists in my head. Grocery shopping, make up the beds, vacuum, dust, scour bathrooms, make dinner, oh back pedal, they can go out for dinner tonight! Where was Brain Blank then I ask you!! Once the orientation was over, I galloped home.(note all the galloping!) There was much to do; my children were coming home for the weekend. I raced around duster in one hand, vacuum in the other. It was a sight to behold.

The weekend was full and busy. I cooked, washed up, hung up coats left strun on the back of whatever chair was nearest the door, replaced wet towels on an hourly basis and tripped over discarded shoes. We sat around the table together for the first time since St. Stephens Day for breakfasts and dinners and took walks on the local trail. The house was full of life and laughter again. Sunday came and one by one they left. The house was quiet and Louie panned out from all the company, attention and frolicking about.

Now I had the time to write. I turned on Hattie, my computer, put my hands on the keys and nothing. I wasn’t too worried. After all it had been a hectic weekend, I was tired and a little lonely. Monday came, again nothing. By Tuesday I began to panic. I could not conjure up one single word or thought to write about. Frantically I searched the tiny crevices of my brain and nothing, nothing but blank wordlessness. Brain Blank had taken hold. Gripped by fear I wondered, am I washed up, used up? Could I be at the end of writing career, before it even started?

Will the words ever come back???

Help! I’m desperate! Does anyone have an antidote for Brain Blank?


Brigid said...

Hi Ann, you sure know how to gallop, do a lot of that myself, not something they tell you about in ante-natal class comes with the 'mother' job.
Now, with my amateur psychology hat on, I would say you got a mild dose of 'domesticitis' with the youngsters back in the fold. Your brain reverted to 'fetch' mode and is probably still wandering around there. You need to reset to 'writer' mode and do 'writery-type' things (not sure exactly maybe watch some arthouse movies or read a book of poetry) and before you know it, you'll be back in the world of literature.
Also what works for me is not to use pc, just leave a notebook and pen around and pounce when some ideas come up.Great post, really enjoyed it.

Old Kitty said...

Awwww Ann!!!!

First, I thought what a lovely weekend you've had! Tiring and hectic but with your lovely family altogether!!!! So that's nice!

Second, er... ignore the two mud tracks where your garden used to be...! LOL!

Third, all that galloping means lots of excercise!

Fourth, great job with the giving out of sweets initiative!! Yay!

Fifth - hugs to Louie!!!!!

Sixth - Brain Blank and how to conquer it... er... how about reading a previous piece of work you've done? Sometimes I write a story and forget about it and then when I do go back a paragraph stands out and I think, hmmm maybe that needs another story in itself? Or just perhaps watch telly. Just relaxes the brain a bit!


Take care and GOOD LUCK!!!

p.s. Are you able to get to KarenG's blog?!? I've been clicking on her blog for a while now to read her interview with Simon Lewin but I just get her banner and a blank page!!!! It's driving me crazy - I miss KarenG's blog!

Ann said...

Four children and I have galloping down to a fine art! Thing is you would think now they are all grown there would be less of the galloping. Thanks for all the encouraging words Brigid. I never thought of it like that, readjust brain to writerly mode. Pen and paper at my side. Will let you know how it goes.

Hi Kitty, as you say it was a hectic but lovely weekend and I did get lots of exercise. Relaxing sounds good. I could give that a try.
I just tried KarenG's blog and I too am just getting her banner. I don't know what has happened there. If you hear anything please let me know.

hampshireflyer said...

@ Old Kitty - I read everything through a feed reader and Karen's posts have been coming up as normal on there! It's obviously been a day or two since I commented on anything there though (oops, busted...), because I certainly didn't notice any problems the last time I actually loaded the blog...

Karen Walker said...

Hi Ann,
Sounds like an incredibly hectic few days. I know after chaos, my brain and body and spirit need to get back to normal before any writing can occur. I wouldn't worry about it too much. If it goes on too long, it might be a block of some sort, but just allow the writing to come. Try not to force it. It will. Trust you and the process.

niamh said...

Well you wrote this and it's very funny! It must be hard to have your family around and then bam! they're gone. I'll pass on a tip I haven't tried but maybe it will work for you - find your favourite book and type out a page or two. It's meant to send your brain back into writer mode - well, as long as it's a good book I guess:)

KarenG said...

Wow, I agree with the other Karen. That sounds like very wise and sage advice. This Karen wants to say yes, listen to her!

Niki said...

There's an award for you at mine :o)

Susannah said...

I think that perhaps with this blog post you may have started of your 'writer' without even being aware of it! Sometimes just writing something like this with no pressure is the best way to get things flowing.

By the way, I am very impressed with all the galloping! :-)

Ann said...

Thanks for the tip Hampshireflyer, and thanks for stopping by.

To the Two Karens, Thank you for your words of sage advise. I am feeling better already.

Hi Niamh, I did hear that about copying a page or two of a book. I am thriled you found my ramblings funny. That in itself is a real boost.

Thank you so much for the award Niki. I feel a song coming on.

Hi Susannah, I think you are right. I felt less bogged down when I had finished writing this. So maybe the brain blank has taken a hike. Or galloped off even!

Jackee said...

Galloping = fat and calories burned
No good advice, but a good link for you:

Good luck, Ann. It's hard when you're busy or stressed to write, I know!

Jan Morrison said...

Hi Ann - sounds like you are coming around - I'll tell you what I do. I just sit there and stare into the screen. then I decide I'll go to a different part of the book and see what's there. Or I'll write back story. As Nathalie Goldberg says - get your arm moving. Or I'll walk and let myself mull on my book. All fine.

Theresa Milstein said...

Of course you'll write again! Just write anything or go back and edit. Once you exercise your fingers, your brain will kick back into gear. A lot of times it's fear because time has passed. Good luck!

Rebecca @ Diary of a Virgin Novelist said...

Here are some of my tricks:

Feed your brain with good books and poems. Listen to good music. Watch films or go to the museum or see a play if you can. Then, do a timed writing. 15 minutes of non-stop writing. The only rule is that you must write, even if you only write "I have nothing to write." By the end of the 15 minutes, you'll be flowing again.

Let us know how it goes!

walk2write said...

It looks like your blank brain came through for you with a great post. Somehow, kids visiting have that effect on the writer part of momma. It has to be the fault of all of those mindless chores you mentioned. You revert to auto-focus when you tend to their needs. Not that I would ever want mine to stay away! Heaven forbid! Is that your drawing, by the way? It's great!

Ann said...

Thank you all for your encouragemnt and wonderful ideas to get the writing juices flowing again. I am very grateful to you all.

Checked out that Not For Robots site Jackee. Thanks it is really great.

I wish I had done the drawing myself, but alas my talents don't lie in that direction.

Anonymous said...

Hi Ann, I have had such a lovely time reading your blog! THANK YOU SO VERY, VERY MUCH for telling me all about it at our lunch on Friday. It's all that you said it would be and more!