The Low, Blank Noise of Sentences


I’ve spent hours and hours over the weekend working on my memoir.  I’ve written pages and pages, but nothing, as of yet, crafted well enough to share—a whole lot of words that add up to a whole lot of nothing. 

It feels a bit like this—part of a poem I wrote a while ago: 

there are no words
with weight and density
            only a limp
            phrase which sags
            in the center
            like wet clay
 
                dampening the tips
                of fingers
           
               moistening the verbs
 
the hinges are in place
          but there is only
          the low blank
          noise of sentences
 
         (alone)

      

Please be patient with me.  I promise something more significant soon.

44 thoughts on “The Low, Blank Noise of Sentences

  1. Oh Kathy! don’t be so hard on yourself! The words will come! Just take a break and do something that inspires you, like art. For me, I go on a run or play the piano. Then the words just flow!

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  2. It’s just a lull, I’ve kind of taught myself to enjoy the quiet. I think as writers we expect ourselves to be workhorses, but even workhorses need a bit of downtime to recharge!

    And that poem is really lovely! Such a talented lady you are.

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    • Oh, Chrissy, thanks for these kind words. I think I’m afraid of the quiet, for some reason–if that makes any sense. In fact, it kind of terrifies me. Actually, your comment is helping me realize how dependent I am on language to anchor me. When words fail, I flounder. Thanks for this feedback. I’m realizing something new about my process.

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  3. Kathy, you are so hard on yourself. Even your poem about the lack of words is evidence of your power over words. I agree with thirdeyemom, give yourself a creative break and do something different.

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    • Oh, Lisa, I love you for this encouragement. Like I said to silverfinofhope below, it scares me when words fail me. I flounder in their absense. And Nicole is correct. Visual art should help in these places. But what about you? Does lack of language or an inability to access the right words frighten you, or is that just me?

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      • BWAHAHAHAHAHAHA! That’s hysterical laughter going on in my head right now (I can’t laugh out loud because I am sitting in a coffee shop). I am currently paralyzed by fear. I don’t even know where to begin. I don’t know what I am doing anymore. I had hoped getting out of the house and into a new space would be inspirational, but I still stare at the screen unable to do a single thing. I know how to give advice, but not take it. I currently feel like the world’s biggest failure heading for even bigger failures. I don’t just feel like I can’t access the right words, I feel like I can’t even access the right thoughts. There, my secret is out.

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      • Oh, my dear, dear Lisa. You are not alone in that coffee shop. I’m right there with you. It’s an awful feeling, I know. Hang in there. We can cower together in some dark corner with only the light from our laptops to brighten the way ahead. Maybe that’s what makes us writers. I know that you can do it, and if you can, maybe I can too. I’m hangin’ with you sister!

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  4. I love the poem, too. And agree, not surprisingly, that you’re being hard on yourself. It may be that in a week you look at those words over the weekend and are able to translate them into what you want to say. If not, they’ve still informed the process and will be part of your beautiful and fascinating final product. The memoir will be beautiful and fascinating, because YOU wrote it. It’s not only your story that’s beautiful and fascinating. It’s you. I promise.

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  5. Try writing something out of your comfort zone for a short time, Kathy. Words can be fickle to us writers and play games that aren’t fair! I find that when I change gears on my writing (going from my usually silly and funny stuff to serious, thought provoking things) it makes my usual writing flow a little more freely. It’s like unclogging the drain in your head. Other stuff is blocking the way. Hope this helps………BTW, I’ve added you to my blog roll in hopes that what few readers I have may also find their way to you. Keep your chin up.

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    • Gosh, Miranda, thank you for this suggestion. It makes LOTS of sense. That really applies to most any discipline. Don’t know why it didn’t occur to me with regard to writing.

      And thanks for mentioning the blogroll. I’m honored, my friend. I will proudly add you to mine, as well.

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  6. Oh man… I do hear you on this. I have tried over and over again to start my memoir and often I get a disappointing result. I’m thinking about enlisting the help of a writing partner.. someone to help me focus, ground me and give good feedback as I go.

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    • Thanks so much for stopping by. I imagine you have a fascinating story to tell. Actually, I have used my blog for that very purpose, as I am in effect blogging my way to a memoir. It was worked fairly well so far for me.

      I’m so happy you have stopped by today, and hope you’ll drop by again soon. It was great having you————–

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  7. I think these kinds of things happen to everyone (OK, OK, they happen to me). You’ve gotten some great feedback. Give yourself a break. Write poetry. Don’t write anything. Write 10 sentences about your family, sentences that aren’t connected to each other. Just look at old photos without writing. Write a post about something you have never talked about before and has nothing to do with your memoir. Read bloggers you haven’t read before….

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  8. Boy do I know that feeling. Don’t rush yourself. It will come, my friend. It’s good that you try to write every day though. Even if the words don’t come, the act itself can be meditative.

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  9. I always think of the place you’re in now as a plot of rich earth, fertilized planted with seeds, and teaming with expectation. Lots and lots of magic is happening now. Those droopy sentences are generating energy and life that will spring up at any moment.

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  10. The poem is beautiful. wonderful. awesome. I love it! As to the lull in writing, that is all it is, a lull. You have received a lot of excellent suggestions (I’m copying to remind myself when I’m in a slump!) but mostly trust that when the time is right, when the thoughts and memories are ripe, the writing will continue with renewed vigor. I, and many others will still be here supporting you and reading. 🙂

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  11. It’s funny when the words stop. Sometimes they stop for genuine reasons–like we need more silence to surround our thoughts for a while. Sometimes they stop because we’re putting to much pressure on ourselves. Do they ever stop on your blog? Or just on your memoir? Is it because you’re not getting daily feedback? I think the daily/momentary feedback can be wonderful, but also addicting.

    By the way, your memoir-writing (and the access to a scanner for the first time) is inspiring me. Thank you!

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    • I wondered about the photos when I read your most recent post. I’m so happy to have inspired the scanning and remembering frenzy!

      About the writing block–

      I get blocked with both the blog and the memoir. However, I think when you see my post tomorrow, you will understand what had me so stuck. I actually broke through today, so I am celebrating!

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  12. You write so well about everything. I guess what you are tackling now is really personal, which makes it much more difficult than other stuff. I agree with all the other comments, take a break, think about something else, go for long walks and get your head in the right place. This is not a competition, you are doing it because you want to.

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    • Interesting that you say that this is not a competition. When I read that, I realized that I almost do set up competitions–only they’re with myself. I set these challenges, and then expect myself to live up to them. Kind of crazy, isn’t it?

      At any rate, I had a breakthrough of sorts yesterday, so I’m feeling better. Thanks for reading, Deb.

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  13. Beautiful poem, Kathy– even when you feel like you’re struggling with words and sentences, you still manage to create something brilliant! (I know this poem was written earlier, but I have no doubt that the memoir sections you were working on will turn out just as masterfully!) 🙂

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    • Isn’t that always the way it is? When you really feel like you have something to say, you can’t get it out, and when you try to keep it brief, you can’t shut up–you being me, of course, and maybe you as well. Ha, ha!

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