Putting On My Red Shoes and Dancing the Blues

wpid-1353619984022.jpgFor reasons that are not entirely clear to me, last week was pants.

Nothing went seriously wrong. Nothing went seriously right. It was just the kind of awful, no-good week that doesn’t really deserve that designation. The kind of week where you huddle up in your house, utterly certain that everything you do is wrong, that your body is falling apart and your mind is no good for anything and you indulge in the dream of no longer having to cope. The kind of week where lack of sleep kills your fine motor skills, and every attempt to rub your weary eyes is accompanied by a small vision of accidentally pressing your eyeball into the back of your skull, even if you know that’s relatively insane.

The kind of week where you desperately try to hide the fact that you are a twitchy mess from the world.

The kind of week where your focus is utter crap and you feel yourself getting behind on everything. Where writing consists of sitting at a computer for three hours and typing, maybe, two hundred words.

By you, of course, I mean me.

Last week was pants.

This morning I am dancing. David Bowie. Lets Dance. Red shoes and all. David Bowie, Suffragette City. David Bowie, Jean Genie. The Bowie part is mandatory. Right up until I get started on the back catalogue of Roxy Music and Jane’s Addiction, anyway.

My gut is all about the self-recrimination at the moment. It looks at the spreadsheet where I track my writing and sees the list of bad writing days outnumbering the good ones and it whispers dire thoughts in my ear. You have failed in this, it says, therefore you have failed at everything. You suck, Ball. 

My gut can go get fucked. My gut knows shit.

I feel all this despite knowing the mythology that surrounds writing, telling us that we’re failures until we let our art consume us. Hell, I feel this in spite of spending the last twenty years questioning that mythology and discovering that there’s an awful lot that is not just wrong, but bat-shit crazy.

Despite knowing there are bad weeks, and then there are good ones, and how you do over a lifetime that really matters.

There are weeks when writing isn’t the priority. Weeks where it cannot be the priority. Hell, there are months and years where this is true, periods of chronic illness or family commitments or utterly insane work schedules or, shit, just bad wiring in your head, that are not conducive to being consumed by your craft.

This isn’t a failure, any more than refusing to be consumed by an office job is a failure when you’ve suddenly discovered other commitments. Priorities shift, in life. The thing that gets our focus one week isn’t guaranteed to get it the next. The things that matter to us change, over the years, as we realise what matters to us.

You are not a failure ’cause sorting your shit out matters more than writing.

You are not a failure ’cause you had a bad week of writing, regardless of the cause.

Take a moment. Take a deep breath. Re-align your mental cross-hairs on the things that really matter to you, and if that still includes writing, figure out what’s actually achievable in your current situation.

Or, hell, come join me: put on your red shoes and dance the blues.

Let’s fucking dance.

Writing will still be there tomorrow.

  2 comments for “Putting On My Red Shoes and Dancing the Blues

  1. Anna
    07/12/2015 at 6:58 PM

    Hi Peter,It was great attending your class last Sunday 6 Dec 2015 . I really enjoyed your class .Despite the sitting down in cold Aircon.Many students complained freezing thoughts .Above all everyone seemed happy to have attended your workshop .Yes it was fast moving talks with lots of elements on character building.
    I came home & after giving dinner to hubby Charles who in wheel chair ,cancer & catheter on….was really kind of him to let me go to your workshop .I nearly cancelled your class .Now Im happy I didn’t .
    At least in bed on my IPad ,Last night wrote my main character based in your teaching .Thats a progress for first day .

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