Facing the Blank Wall

I’m having some trouble, blog-wise, this week.  On several occasions I  sat down to write my weekly post, only to have the proverbial blank screen look back at me… waiting for me to say something useful.  On one or two occasions, I made a hopeful start.  The first effort resulted in some ethereal rambling that I suspect would prove useful to no one in particular.  The second was, well, just silly.  So here I am again.  My blank wall and me.

It reminds me of Shirley Valentine.  Remember her?  She was the English housewife who had only the wall to talk to.  As I recall, her conversations with the wall were quite revealing.

Shirley talked while the wall listened. And then she experienced a breakthrough, a personal realization that change was required and she was just the person to make it.

So, I’m thinking that blank walls can be useful things really.  They can be clean slates waiting for us to stop struggling, to re-invent something or create something new and to get the juices flowing again.

I think that for this week anyway, I’m going to noodle around with that one and be okay with a post that may not inspire or inform but with a bit of luck may give cause for reflection, both yours and mine.

I think too, that this post would be enriched by your comments on times when you too, may have faced the blank wall.  What was it like for you? What did you do?  How did it turn out?  How do you think blank walls can serve us?  I’d like to know.  Really.

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15 Comments

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15 responses to “Facing the Blank Wall

  1. Hi Gwyn – don’t forget Shirley Valentine also went to Greece and had a torrid affair! When you are ready you will write!

  2. Gwyn Teatro

    Thank you, Dorothy….Inspiration comes from many places. I get a lot of that from reading blogs like yours and others and taking time simply to observe what’s going on around me. Failing that, I give myself a shake and see what falls out of that…On second thought, maybe not :-)
    Thanks for your encouraging words

  3. Leslie

    “World exclusive: Joe eats late.” Haha! “You’re going ’round the bend,” he says. Sometimes you have to go ’round the bend to find yourself, though.

    I love Shirley Valentine, thanks for this. :-)

    • Gwyn Teatro

      Thank you, Leslie,

      I’ve been ’round the bend a few times, so what’s one more time? Besides, like Shirley, I’ve always loved to travel. :-)

  4. Hi

    Given that I’ve been staring at the same wall with respect to my unfinished book since like…months, I’d like to say Thank You. Mostly, I just watch as the days go by, autumn turned into winter, and the snow fell to cover all creativity and my manuscript lies untouched, unread, and unfinished. I’ve been asked if I just had to write it to find my voice. I’ve been asking myself the same whether it was just meant for the bottom drawer. And yet, a little voice knows that my story when I’ve thrown out all my precious ‘babies’ and let go of my own cleverness, has value to me and to others who search for meaning in their lives. Mostly, I am terrified of walking into the state of mind I was in during those years which I am told my book creates in the reader…and, yet, I am now ‘four-legged’ rather than ‘three-legged’ and have the groundedness necessary. Well, or so I hope. And I keep pushing back my deadlines which is not like me at all. ‘Clever cloggs’ herself finished the first draft two days ahead of her self-imposed deadline. (Much wallowing in pompous self-importance as result, sadly.) I shall continue to watch the wall, or rather spend time looking at my lovely snow covered garden…for some time still.

    Lise

    • Gwyn Teatro

      Lise,
      There’s a powerful message in here for me. It’s about letting go of our own cleverness but also accepting that there is a story to be told. Perhaps it will emerge when it is ready. And, I suspect that your story is too rich to remain a bottom drawer item forever.
      Thank you very much for so generously sharing your experience with me. I find comfort in knowing that we share a “common wall” if only for a time.
      As Dorothy so wisely advises, we will write when *we* are ready

  5. Hi Gwyn – loved the film! But you are right to post – blank walls can be inspirational for others provided you see graffiti as art – in the right place just like most weeds, beautiful! There are all kinds of techniques for dealing with block! I put on some Little Wolf music, dance about and shake rattles! Doesn’t look good to observers, doesn’t always raises the creative juices (often does) but my word it is fun! I think block just teaches us patience and to be very grateful indeed when the inspiration strikes again. Anyway have the most fantastic Christmas and here’s to a brilliant and inspired New Year!

    • Gwyn Teatro

      Thank you Wendy!
      I love how you “shake yourself up” without caring what others might make of your process. And, I think you are right. Hitting a block is indeed an opportunity to exercise patience and perhaps too, to take some inventory and think about what’s next. The New Year is a good time to do that.
      I raise my glass to you and wish you too, a peace-filled and happy Christmas and all good and exciting things for 2011.

  6. Jo Linder-Crow, PhD

    Hi Gwyn,
    As a reader, I would just offer that not everything has to be profound. We all know a lot, but it’s great sometimes to read something that we haven’t thought about in a while, something that jogs a memory, or jogs a thought like “oh, yeah, I meant to do that–but forgot–and now I’m reminded.”
    So, as my dissertation Chair hounded into me, “Just put something down–I don’t care what it is–and we’ll go from there!” good advice, then. good advice now. Whatever you write will help someone!

    • Gwyn Teatro

      Jo, thank you so much for your encouraging words. And, of course you are right, not everything has to be profound. If it did, I’d be long out of the game. I’ll remember that and also that good teachers are often students too. Thanks for taking the time to share your thoughts with me.

  7. Dan Curtis

    Love this post, Gwyn. It shows that you’re a human with all the challenges we have as humans. Too often bloggers set themselves up as “authorities” and give the impression that they’re flawless.

    Now of course I’m one of the “flawless” bloggers so I never encounter the problem of which you speak. ;-) I wish!

    One of the things I find useful when up against a blank wall is to pick something out of left field. For example, I’ve used my cat and my Mother to spark ideas about marketing. Going outside the box frees up my mind to see all kinds of connections that would otherwise get lost.

    You’re right about blank walls and too much struggle. Letting go of the struggle is a good way to help the creativity flow.

    • Gwyn Teatro

      Dan, Thank you. I feel so much better about my blank wall having been reminded that others, like you, have visited it too.
      I like your examples, although I would caution you to put your Mother *before* the cat when thinking outside your box…seems a bit more respectful that way ;-)
      Thanks again. As always I appreciate the kind words of a friend.

  8. Hi Gwyn!
    I didn’t know the film but it seems like it was a fun one! I like what Dorothy told you about the torrid affair in Greece (maybe it’s a clue?!!)
    Ah…Blank Walls…It happens all the time and I value so much that you chose to simply blog about it!
    That’s the best way to go. Take some distance, have a walk, a jump (like Wendy said, “shake” yourself listen to wolf music (???! Curious to know what it is, M’am, can I have some too for the Elipse of the Moon?).
    More seriously, two links I think you may like:
    One is an amazing time-lapsed video of an essay being written, with commentary http://wp.me/p4vkk-1IE
    The second is from Michael Hyatt, The Mistery of Writing http://michaelhyatt.com/the-mystery-of-the-writing.html

    It’s a Balancing Art…When to hold on, when to let go!
    Today, I’ve chosen to relax and watch a delicious movie with Spencer Tracy and Katherine Hepburn (Adam’s Rib…)!!!

  9. Gwyn Teatro

    Marion, Thank you, Thank you, Thank you! I really enjoyed both posts you directed me to.
    If nothing else, I have learned from everyone kind enough to comment that facing the blank wall is not a situation peculiar to me. And so, over the holidays I am going to shake myself up with a version of the wolf dance; write, drivel or no; jump outside the box; dream about the Greece thing; and remember the wisdom of balance.
    Happy movie viewing…Tracey & Hepburn, always a good choice

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