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Pickle Me This

July 31, 2019

Stop Waffling, and Write

I finally read Brigid Schulte’s essay in The Guardian, “What is women’s greatest enemy? Lack of time for themselves,” an essay I’d seen many people sharing online last week. And to be honest, once I got to it, I found the piece a bit…slight? Understanding why it had resonated with so many women for sure, but it also frustrated me, and made me impatient. I wanted more. I wanted something less waffley (no offence to waffles) and less cribbed from A Room of One’s Own, because it’s been 90 years, and surely we can do better than, “What would happen if…” and thought experiments about Shakespeare’s sister.

(What might you have written had you not sat down to write the piece about how women don’t take enough time to sit down and write?)

I’ve spent the last few weeks completing the modules of my blogging course, whose goal is to deliver women the confidence (the nerve?) to carve out their own little space online, to emphasize to them that their voices matter and so do their stories, and that the world needs both these things. I’ve written 25,000 words that I’m proud of and excited to share very soon that I hope will inspire and motivate people who are blog-curious or at least need a little jolt to get their blogging spark back…but at the heart of it all there really is just one point, and it’s this one: You just have to do it.

And you know what? We can blame the patriarchy. (We definitely SHOULD blame the patriarchy. See Toi Smith: ‘Let’s stop calling it “mom guilt” because that’s bullshit and not actually a thing. Let’s start calling it what it really is: internalized patriarchy, capitalism, and white supremacy which has conditioned women to believe that once we become a mother our pleasure isn’t ours, that our joy isn’t ours, that our creative force isn’t ours, and that our time isn’t ours.”)

But all this means is that when you finally do sit down to write, what you’re doing is more radical, awesome and profound than you might initially understand it to be—which only makes it all the more important that you actually sit down and write. Telling yourself that you’re not writing because you don’t take time for yourself is a decision you have made, and it’s kind of boring. It’s also like telling yourself that don’t write because you’re a perfectionist, or that you don’t write because you have a job, or because you have kids. (To be fair, if you’re not writing because you have kids AND a job, I get it. Though there comes a point when “having kids” stops being an occupation that takes up every ounce of your soul and your life.)

Because there are so many people who face these hurdles, but leap over them and write anyway. There are so many women who do make time for themselves and for their art, even if we live in a society that conspires to make them feel guilty about those choices. So to stare wistfully into our teacups and lament the choices we’ve made to limit our creative experiences (honestly, you could let that call from your mechanic go to voicemail) because that’s just how it for women, it’s what we do, is essentialist and very annoying.

It’s also just another excuse to avoid doing the thing, and Brigid Schulte gets it exactly right when she writes, “I wonder if that searing middle-of-the-night pain that, at times, settles like dread around my solar plexus may not only be because there’s so little unbroken time to tell my own untold stories, but because I’m afraid that what may be coiled inside may not be worth paying attention to anyway. Perhaps that’s what I don’t want to face in that dusky room I dream of.”

The biggest challenge lies in not finding the time to write, but in staring such fear in the face. But it’s possible. With the knowledge that even if you fail, you’ll be so much further along than you would have been if you hadn’t tried, and also that you will never ever be better than you’ll be if you start practicing right now.

8 thoughts on “Stop Waffling, and Write”

  1. Wonderfully wise words – love it.

    1. Kerry says:

      Thank you, Gina!

  2. Robin Mitchell Cranfield says:

    Yup!

  3. theresa says:

    Yes, this is a very wise piece. To write, you have to want to. Then you have to clear a space (not much), and then you have to…write. You have to begin. To believe that it matters, first to you, then to to the circles that will ripple out from that first act of putting the words on a page (or screen). There’s no magic formula. You don’t need to go to the mountains or to Iceland (though of course both would be lovely). “I wonder if that searing middle-of-the-night pain that, at times, settles like dread around my solar plexus may not only be because there’s so little unbroken time to tell my own untold stories, but because I’m afraid that what may be coiled inside may not be worth paying attention to anyway. Perhaps that’s what I don’t want to face in that dusky room I dream of.” If I wake to that pain, middle of the night, or encounter it by day, I talk to it. I take it on and find out what it means.

    1. Kerry says:

      I was wary of writing this, because I was feeling kind of cranky about it, and because I don’t want to be like one of those awful fitness enthusiasts who go around hash tagging #NoExcuses. Because we’re allowed to have excuses, and mine in regards to my absence of rock-hard ab muscles (for example) is that such things are just not a priority for me. Just as writing is just not a priority for other people, and that’s okay.

  4. theresa says:

    I have no hard abs myself. But if I really wanted them? I think I’d at least try to do something about it, if only for myself. And of course writing is not a priority for, oh, billions of people. But if you want to do it and feel you need to do it? Then why not begin? Your blogging course could be the inspiration for many. I hope so. Because you’re a good model of how to do stuff, a lot of stuff, with grace and style and lots of humour.

    1. Kerry says:

      Thank you, Theresa!

  5. Chantel says:

    Yes!!!! I love this. Just the inspiration I needed, Kerry.

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