Misery Memoir

http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/f/f4/Colonnades_Philae.JPGEtty Hillesum was murdered in Auschwitz in 1943. Her diary of life in Amsterdam before then has been published. She looked down at a Gestapo officer behind a desk, who was shouting, finding reasons to be angry- “Take your hands out of your pockets!”- and saw what he was doing, saw how he was feeling, felt sympathy for the man even as he shouted. He told her to stop smirking. He saw the anger was not having any effect, needed her fear of him, and mistook sympathy for disrespect.

I heard that programme about her yesterday (17th- inspiring, recommended) and then saw I had a “Like” from onethousandsingledays. I popped over to have a look at her blog.

This first post I saw is arresting. She has a wonderful metaphor, the War, the Bunker, the collapse of the pillars, and some actual experience of abusive relationships to relate. With all the writing people do, on blogs or diaries or unpublished manuscripts, this may be my Holy Grail, writing one could actually get paid for. I can imagine a public buying this as a book, publishers, editors, critics and publicists seeing this and acting as middlemen. It is about Overcoming Adversity, Being Yourself, and Making your way in the World. Universal concerns.

Hers was a “like” which does not “like” my blog at all. It is a tap on the shoulder, saying, come and have a look at me, like Cristian Mihai’s are. I left a comment about Etty Hillesum and her wonderful empathy, saying that I might engage if she came to my blog and commented. She did not publish my comment. This is her excuse for not even replying to most comments.

http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/d/dc/Colonnade_NMW.jpgI do actually want to write my spiritual autobiography, or a novel showing my wonderful insight into humanity, or something. I veer between imagining that I know nothing of this, of other people, or of myself, and can say nothing interesting, and imagining that I am doing important spiritual work and that I can record it in a worthwhile way.

I do not want to disparage her work. Well, I do, as my post title shows: I resent her success and want to do it down as flashy and shallow, merely communicating pain and a trite response to it whereas I have the Insight to communicate Reality and a deep, spiritual, worthwhile response- but I must resist that temptation, and learn what I can from her. Technical things, like how to develop a metaphor and an idea while bringing in experience, showing different facets of the jewel in an ordered way to communicate knowledge of the whole thing.

The way to achieve anything is patient effort. Unfortunately there are also computer games- Solitaire is mine- which gives a brief illusory hit of false-achievement and so is addictive, and TV through which I can get excitement and intense feeling vicariously.

And- right now, my desires and drives are in conflict, so that I am practically inert. Perhaps “The darkness shall be the light and the stillness the dancing” but it is not, yet, as far as I can see. If it were, and it were possible, that would be worth communicating in writing.

PS: On “Likes”, Cristian Mihai duly “liked” this post as well, even though I mentioned him rather unflatteringly. This is because he “likes” every post. I have commented on his blog, drawing his attention to the face, and “await moderation”. I think he will refuse my comment, and delete his “like” from this post. He does not want his hypocrisy unmasked.

4 thoughts on “Misery Memoir

  1. Dear Clare

    When the fog gets me down – or the conflict, which mixes uncomfortably with inertia – I just go for editing and then ease back into writing. There are as many reasons to write as there are people on the planet, so you can just write your own story and let it rest at that. Your message, after all, will only be what other people take from it.

    As for the patience – it is my gremlin too – but I also see it as a strangely quiet place, where, because I am on automatic pilot, I can acquire insight that is missing from my other writing. I can ponder things like, success, reasons why, the nature of belief and so on, in that quiet space. And so I do not think of it as entirely wasted time.

    Thanks for writing! Have a good day.

    XX 🙂


    • I love your writing.

      I think the pondering is worthwhile. I am not entirely sure what I might do which might achieve goals, or what goals I have, and some things I fear doing because I fear they will go badly, so I put them off. I hope that my contemplation may get me into a space where I can achieve things again. Don’t say there’s nothing to do in the doldrums. It’s just not true.


  2. Clare,
    This post is such a statement about patience and moving forward, maybe more slowly, but certainly surely. When I was Freshly Pressed, I got over 100 comments on that post and answered every one. I felt that if my fellow bloggers came over to see my poem and made a point to comment, I wanted to connect with them and acknowledge their efforts. I’m still slowly wading through the follows that I got that day. And following them, too (unless their blog just totally does not speak to me). I think it’s the right thing to do. I think I get a few more “likes” and a few more comments since the FP, but not a huge amount and that’s okay. I do this for me and it creates a community that I love.
    And you are an important part of that community. Thank you.


    • I hope my irony is not too subtle. I admire her, and when I call her “shallow” I am pointing out something in me and not in her. And she has an excuse for not replying to each comment: a hundred on most posts, acknowledging the intensity of experience and feeling she shares and often sharing intensely themselves. It is hard to do any of them justice.

      I am not at the end of my journey, and I have to trust in it; your word “surely” helps. Thank you.


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