Most of the time my head is on straight

Patti Smith 1975 by Robert Mapplethorpe 1946-1989WELL I guess it had to come…

I had been blogging for 35 days and published 29 posts when hit it me… why am I doing this?

I guess the answer is obvious, it is because I need to. I need to say so much which I have kept bottled up for far too long, and sometimes it becomes like a stream of consciousness explosion.

But as most bloggers – and indeed writers – know, it is feckin’ lonely at times. Like writing into a vacuum which steals words and sucks out the soul.

So last night I had my first crisis of confidence and was slipping back to that desolate spot I found myself in last June. I told my friends via email and Facebook that I would be pulling the plug on my blog and stopping the daily writing. I went to bed feeling exhausted, and aside from dreaming about the ghost girl in our kitchen, I slept like the dead.

I woke this morning at 6.40 to my wife Gill shaking me and telling me, with tears in her eyes: “You are not stopping your blog. Loads of people like it and read it. I read it and if you are writing it for me alone you must continue. Just look at the comments on Facebook.”

I hugged her close and with sleepy eyes started reading a raft of Facebook comments.

That is when I started to cry.

All the comments were from friends, family and work colleagues – past and present – telling me to carry on, as they actually enjoy reading my stuff! They are all amazing. I think the ones which touched me most were from fellow journalists whom I admire as writers and editors themselves.

Then I noticed four private messages on Facebook. Each said the same. One in particular really touched me, from someone I have not seen in two years. Part of it read: “Hi Nic, how very random of me sending u a pm! Just read your status and don’t feel eloquent or brave enough to comment on your post but want you to know that I got so engrossed one day reading one part of your blog my little girl managed to get in far more Peppa time than I would normally allow. I was truly moved by your writing. Don’t give up… I would love to read more if I get the chance!”

Then came emails and text messages.

One arrived just a minute ago as I write this piece. It is from a very dear friend, who I see far too rarely and who has endured life experiences similar to my own. Her text was unexpected, full of love and life affirming. She ended it with the words: “You have brought a lot of happiness into people’s lives and that is what defines you the most, my dear, dear friend.”

Yep, I cried again.

So now have the kick up the pants I needed and continue where I left off. Suddenly friends have made me feel good about myself and made me realise that the vacuum is all in my mind!

Thank you everyone for everything.

But I finish this posting with something else that inspired me in that first hour of the day. Beth Orton shared on Facebook a wonderful eulogy to Lou Reed, written by one of my other heroes, Patti Smith.

The music and words of Lou Reed have been with me since I was 16, but the genius and poetry of Patti came far too late. It was only when she returned to recording and gigging in the mid 1990s – after an eight year hiatus – that I really discovered her.

Patti knows what pain feels like.

In 1989, her best friend Robert Mapplethorpe died of an Aids-related illness. The American photographer shot the iconic image of Smith on the front cover of her seminal album Horses. In late 1994, her husband, Fred ‘Sonic’ Smith, once a guitarist with pre-punk rockers MC5, died of a heart attack, leaving her with two young children. Less than a month later, her brother Todd died suddenly. Small wonder her return album in 1996 was titled Gone Again.

Her words move like few others I have ever read or heard.

Patti’s eulogy to Lou can be found here: http://www.newyorker.com/talk/2013/11/11/131111ta_talk_smith

Read it if you get a chance.

Meantime I aim to dedicate my next few blog postings to writers I admire.

 

Author: seagullnic

Writer, editor, lecturer and part-time musician. Passions in life: my family, Bob Dylan, music of many genres, Brighton and Hove Albion FC, cooking plus good food and wine.

5 thoughts on “Most of the time my head is on straight”

  1. Well, you know me – I don’t cry much at sad or uplifing films or music and can remain dry eyed and stoney faced throughout the death of Bambi , the shooting of Old Yeller (and Clint in Gran Torino,) Hilary’s death on the beach with Ms Midler warbling ‘wind beneath my wings’ – and when Red walks up the Mexican beach to meet his old friend, Andy Dufresne – but this brought a real lump to my throat. I love your writing. And you. But you know that too.

  2. I can completely understand how you feel as I suffer with depression and often my depression stems from the feeling that nobody cares about my writing and nobody reads my work. I often feel as if I am banging my head against the wall or whistling into the wind. However my blogging and writing has been such a therapy for me and it often only takes one comment echoing back fom that wind blown whistle from an appreciative person to make you feel like it’s all worth your while. One of things I do now is try and read as many blogs of others’ that I can and comment where something urges me to do so because words are meant to be shared and is no different to having a conversation with the wind – sometimes the wind whistles back. Incidentally the dream you shared makes even more sense now – as that dark part of your consciousness hiding under the stairs or in that dark hole – that ghost of your own self that wants to be heard can now start to show itself and draw some of that wisdom that is hiding in the darkness out to share with the world. Maybe the real ghosts are helping you with some – spirit writing! Keep whistling in the wind – I like your voice.

    1. Thank you Laura. You write with amazing insight and warmth. I am currently part way through a magnum opus blog on Bob Dylan. It is a cathartic journey, but wholly enoyable.
      I have alreday gathered a selection of authors on WordPress that I read almost everyday, You, Jane Ridson, Shawn L Bird and Dennis Cardiff and are among them… diverse, brilliant and uplifting.

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