Between my ears

Thursday, 21 March 2013

I've been talking to friends this week about having writer's block. Posts on here have tailed off of late and there are several reasons why. I returned to work last month and things have been busy. Settling into being back in the office plus being a parent AND having a life is tiring and time consuming - who'd have thought it? It means I think about writing posts then realise I won't be able to do so in a timely fashion. It means I miss out on news. It means I think about it too much and get frustrated.

Not writing as much means my perfectionist side comes out when I actually think about blogging. Over the past couple of weeks I've agonised over exactly how I'm going to write about several things, only to give up because if they're not going to be good, I'm not going to bother. I like a lot of the posts that I've written immediately as thoughts have come to me - the words flow easily and as they've generally been posts in response to something that's either just happened or is still happening, they're easy to write.

When you don't have the time and the energy, posts don't come as easily any more. It's hard for me not to beat myself up about this. But I think there's also a weariness as well, that's come out of some of the things that have been happening over the past year.

I've thought about expanding more on my final column for BitchBuzz, about how you shouldn't fear the Evil Twitter Feminist and how you can get past the drama surrounding debate about certain issues. I've thought about it but it's really hard, because as someone else was saying to me today, there needs to be some sort of a third way.

At the moment we have one 'side' writing articles every few weeks about the nasty, elitist divisiveness of the feminists on Twitter who talk about intersectionality and privilege, and in response we have the other side justifiably getting irritated by blinkered and often offensive refusal to engage with the idea that they need to listen to diverse points of view. It's a vicious circle and every few days something else is stoking the fires again, yet there's little moving forward precisely because some people won't engage except to mock and snipe and it in turn makes some other people really angry.

I've thought about writing again about the need for more prominence of nuanced discussion in the abortion debate. It's there. You don't have to look hard to find women talking about why reproductive rights doesn't just mean the right to terminate a pregnancy because their experiences are of forced abortion and forced sterilisation and forced adoption thanks to their race or their class or their family situation. You don't have to look hard to find people talking about why 'pro-life' needs to be a more wide-ranging concept and asking where the compassion for women is in all of this. You don't have to look hard to find women wondering why some activists have a whole lot to say about not wanting to keep a child, but virtually nothing to say about the fact that four out of five women will at some point have children and that many, many feminists issues will affect them because of this.

I've thought about writing on my evolving feelings about church and the Christian community and the Christian blogosphere and the pressures and the trends and the loneliness of the past year and my thankfulness for online community, but that's really hard too. A fellow Christian blogger recently wrote about how difficult he was finding attending church; he followed this up with a post about how uncomfortably vulnerable it had made him feel. As "professional Christians" we struggle to truly articulate our feelings about church a lot of the time. We think about who's following us on Twitter; who might see the post shared on Facebook. What our friends might think and the problem that so many people seem to have with questioning. The way that someone, somewhere, is bound to say "If you have a problem with the church the problem probably lies with you!" The fact that a lot of people will judge you because you're not supposed to ask questions.

I will say this: I have felt deeply unenthusiastic. I have felt lonely. I have felt irritable, overtired, overwhelmed, antisocial, unsupported, invisible, disappointed, and sad for people I know who have felt the same. On the other hand I still know God is there - no doubt about it. I've felt affirmed, encouraged, loved, and grateful. So it's not all doom and gloom. But it's damn hard when you usually process things by writing about them and feel you can't. Who would have thought that I wouldn't want to rock the boat?

I've considered writing about a lot of things and haven't managed it - until tonight. And while this post is no substitute, really, I'm publishing it to remind myself that I've still got something going on between my ears.


Sally Nash said...

I am not a perfectionist so don't feel fully able to comment but I am driven by competence and feel dreadful when I do something which makes me feel incompetent. One of the joys I have is attending the wider Birmingham Children's Hospital Chaplaincy Team staff support days. Most often they are facilitated by a Christian psychotherapist and probably the most helpful thing he has shared is applying Winnicott's (little diversion to check spelling as would hate to get it wrong!) concept of good enough mothering to other areas of our life. For me it is very liberating to live with "good enough". I have only been blogging for six weeks or so but am trying very hard to live with a good enough post which doesn't take too much time and which in essence is me reflecting on ministry and helping me process issues. I also try to bear in mind that I am a companion of the Northumbria community with its vows of availability and vulnerability and in putting stuff out in the public domain there may be consequences. So thank you for your thoughts and as I need to do try and ignore the inner critic!

Simon Marsh said...

Thanks for this post Hannah. It's eye-catching and readable-to-the-end because it presents as both honest and vulnerable - and these two attributes are key to our relationships and readership. Your honesty about "Church" both touches me and ring bells in my own life - even after thirty years as a parish priest! What you're writing about is important stuff. I'll be keeping an eye out for more. All blessing upon your new family life and returning to work. And thank you again.


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