Recently, when sending out my latest lot of ‘small stones’ to my Google group of ‘Rosemary’s Readers’, I prefaced them with this rider:
Truth to tell, I have been feeling very uncertain about these efforts, wondering if I should even inflict them on you. (And I note that 'should' is a sign that this thinking might be awry.)
Difficult just now to put the focus outside myself. But I am doggedly persisting anyhow, at least once a day, and I think that small piece of discipline has value.
To which one reader, himself a noted poet, replied:
I understand you might have doubts because of being so prolific. several of them were quite spare, & gained for that, in my humble opinion.... [He went on to comment on particular pieces.]
I don't think you have anything to worry about. For me, a bit of hard edge is good. the proportion of success is quite high. if you are taking a new direction, the doubts are understandable. Keep going...
In the course of responding to his kind reassurances, I found myself explaining to him — and thereby to myself! — the root of my difficulty:
The small stone thing, started by Fiona Robyn, is supposed to be 'a polished moment of paying attention', being open to the world. What's so disconcerting to me this time around is that it's a real effort. In the past, I've found it easy and delightful. This time I am making myself do it, because I said I would.
Hey, this is good. In explaining to you right now, I am understanding better myself why it's so. My beloved has recently been diagnosed with 'mild to moderate' Alzheimer's, and is on some pills to slow it down. Mostly, the things I notice in my days are the ways he is changing. He's still a sweetie, and we can still have decent conversations and shared interests, but there are some 'Mother and Son' moments. None of which are finding their way into the small stones. (I do have a prose blog about it, called Shifting Fog, but don't find time to write there very often.)
Jennie Fraine, Leah Kaminsky and I have been a support group for each other for many years, which has gone through different incarnations as our lives took us to different places literally and metaphorically ... but anyway, we identified very early on that when there was something wrong with a piece of writing, there was always a withhold of some kind or other. So much so that we named ourselves the WIGs*, for Withhold Identification Group.
I probably need to address some of the things I'm not talking about on the page, to free myself up to be present to the rest of life as well.
* We usually capitalise the S too.