(Very Belated) Advent Blog Day 7: Unblocked Plus

Photo by Reynaldo #brigworkz Brigantty on Pexels.com

For reasons which, for the most part, I cannot divulge publicly yet I now feel completely unblocked, and more; you may say Unblocked Plus.

And the final part of this great evacuation took place on a Sunday, when one doesn’t necessarily expect any movement.

I should point out, for anyone who has not yet read my blog posts (Advent (delayed) Blog Day 5: Blockage) and (Advent (belated) Blog Day 6: A Slight Unblocking) I do not refer here to constipation. If you want to understand fully, avail yourself of the explanations provided in the previous blogs.

Similarly, when I refer now to Unblocked Plus, I do not wish you to have in mind the crude and off-putting suggestion of diarrhoea, a nasty and generally unwelcome affliction. On the contrary I refer to an unexpected bonus which I am sure would not have occurred but for the final unblocking.

You may have gathered quite accurately from the previous posts that, with some recent measure of success but still some frustration, I have continued my attempts to deal with apparently inexplicable breakdowns in communication. In particular, I have struggled with the sense of discouragement that such blockages raise in me.

I recognise that this is occasionally quite irrational and often obstructive to creativity. Although, thankfully, I have never (yet) experienced writer’s block, I do become particularly distracted when awaiting outstanding replies, details of outcomes, and responses generally. So distracted in fact that I sometimes cannot get on with new work, wasting time instead checking and re-checking email etc. in an obsessive manner.

I have spoken of the ways I have attempted to retrain my mind to overcome this sort of time-waste, and in my previous post on this topic reported some limited but encouraging success.

Though I cannot go into the details of the significant unblocking which took place on Sunday I want to say something of the ‘plus’ or bonus unexpected happening.

On the creative side, I received an email which explained, in a way that made me ashamed, the very serious reason that one matter had not moved forward as expected. In a separate email hope was offered about how this might be resolved. That got me off to a start that was a mix of reflective and positive. 

Following attention to another matter of personal importance to me, I then took the bull by the horns in relation to a non-creative matter which I knew was going to be time-consuming. It became more time-consuming when telephonic communications were lost for technical reasons, and face-to-face became the only option. I went ahead with some trepidation, double-masked in the current circumstances of pandemic, and did achieve the outcome I desired though it took a large part of the day and early evening to resolve and get home.

Once home, I was hungry and tired, so went ahead to prepare dinner with the intention of settling down in front of the telly for the rest of the night. Though I had wine with dinner, which can make me drowsy when I dine alone, at 10.00pm I made a decision to attempt something I thought would be impossible.

There were a number of deadlines for poetry and other submissions on Sunday 31st and I had submitted nothing whatsoever during January. Contrary to common sense, I chose to put together a submission that involved finding and compiling multiple poems rather than going for a single poem, or a couple of single poem entries which would have been much more do-able.

Having decided it was likely impossible to complete, I approached the task with a mix of urgency and relaxation. If, as seemed likely, I did not compile and send the themed submission by 23.59, that would simply mean I had not done the impossible (as expected).

However, with a minute or two to spare, the submission was delivered electronically. And that is my plus, the unexpected. Even if the submission is not ultimately found acceptable, I can take that rejection knowing that I completed a kind of Mission Impossible, something I did not have the wherewithal to do the previous day.

Having consumed three measures of Malbec

The work may not be up to scratch 

On the other hand one’s best often comes

When one is completely relaxed 

Whatever transpires, and I won’t know for a while, today was a good day!

Advent (belated) Blog Day 6: A Slight Unblocking

Photo by Peter A. : Painting by Gemma

Last night I drafted quite a different post to the one which follows. The original, I decided today, was too much about my personal life and certain recent happenings which brought me an unexpected level of joy. 

So I deleted it word by word until all that remained was the the above image, which I have kept here to encapsulate and serve as a reminder of what true happiness is about.

I’ll tell you only that this is a photo of the latest canvas to hang in my study, and that the artist turned eleven years old about a month ago. She spends most of her time working on imaginative portraiture and figurative art but occasionally turns her hand to landscape. This one certainly pleases me.

Moving on, Blog Day 5 was about communication blockage [ Advent (delayed) Blog Day 5: Blockage ] and in a way about the universe and everything. Rather than doing my usual random jump around the numbers, kindly observe that I now transition logically to Blog Day 6 and A Slight Unblocking, an episode which is both mercifully brief and stoically positive in my humble opinion.

As with the Blockage episode, what I have to say is not specifically about writers or writing. It is about the mindset of people like me who enjoy having several balls in the air at a time while lines of communication remain conveniently open, but find it difficult to move on to something new when communications about previous work or correspondence stop or are delayed.

It really only becomes a problem when there are several examples at once of this ‘blockage’ – those times when irrationally it appears that the whole universe is in conflict with your progress in particular. Nonsense I know, but it can feel that way.

In the previous post I think I hinted at the need to find a way to ignore this and force yourself to do new things, trying not to check email and texts every five minutes (in my case I go through phases when the frequency of checking is even more extreme than that). One must learn (I am trying to learn) that this behaviour simply wastes time, interfering with progress and creativity. More importantly, it increases anxiety. 

In short no good will come of this habit, and weaning yourself off such behaviour, I can confirm, does yield positive results. I should add that I fully understand from my own experience that being confined to home on one’s own during lockdown tends to make the situation worse, so going out for a walk may assist, especially if you dare to leave your phone behind!

In my own case, just by getting out for a little while, having safe socially-distanced or virtual chats with people I care about, breathing in some fresh air and putting aside concerns about unaccountable communication delays, I have felt less frustrated. 

Furthermore, the universe has opened up a little, sending me a couple of lovely pieces of snail Mail which I’ll tell you about in a future post, an email telling me the new publication date of something which had been delayed, a long-awaited email from a travel agent about transfer of a deposit and confirmation that an upsetting personal matter is going to be taken care of.

There are still other matters of importance I haven’t yet heard about but the anxiety I felt a few days ago has been taken down several notches.  

So, in my experience it does work. It’s also a good thing to remember the really important things in life like family and other loved ones. I have a wintry landscape image that will continue to remind me of my priorities.

If you don’t have one already, finding an image that focuses the mind in such a way could be a useful starting point.