Howling Myself

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It is almost with grim determination that my pale blue nails clack away at the keyboard on this post.  Several times over the past two months I have made an attempt at updating The Penslayer - every attempt has left me dismayed and, ultimately, silent.  A handful of you know, I have been dealing with possibly one of my worst nightmares, postpartum depression.  Thankfully, not only has it not been as bad as I feared it might be, I also have an excellent doctor and an effective prescription to combat it.

But part of the effectiveness of the prescription is that I can still feel: I still experience the ordinary impact of emotion.  Believe me, this is a good thing.  I wouldn't want to be a zombie, or insensitively cheerful, because I am drugged.  However, since I am up during the night periodically to feed my baby, since I am working hard to keep in shape and boost my happy hormones, since I am almost constantly with people so that I am not left alone, I am left tired and unwilling to write a simple blog post. 

But recently things have been on a slow upward climb.  (I suffered a few days back from extreme exhaustion, to the point of being sick, but that wasn't my baby's fault.)  I have casually picked up the rewrite for my novel Adamantine, and despite the setbacks and the occasional attacks of insignificance and fear of failure, I think this rewrite holds potential.  Looking at it as critically as possible, I feel as if its tone is written now from a place of calm and immutability.  I am taking my time.  I am not even truly committing to working on it, but Howling myself into it and writing on it whenever, however, as I please.  I have never worked well under pressure - which, I know, is not a good trait; I have always been more likely to lock up and put back my ears and shut down entirely when I feel I must do something.  I do not have to work on Adamantine - but it is there, so I am.  It's good.
snippets from adamantine
Ah.” He passed the letter through the fence and I took it, holding my breath as well. “I’m from Essex, myself, and I’ve never been to Cambridgeshire. Quite out of my route. Well,” he settled into the stool again, and I began to think of a large stork trying to get comfortable on a Holland chimney-stack. “Welcome to Cumberland, all the same.”
“Thank you, sir.”
Whatever was left of my heart died as I said it.

...the portraits over the mantelpiece were glimmering in the lamplight and drew me toward them as visible, flesh-and-blood entities in whose presence I would not be alone. I stood below them and studied their faces. They were both gaunt, severe-looking people, the man and the woman, the sort to bear the tumult of their century with unflinching lips and steady mien.

She was an enormous woman; not unkempt, but huge, combining with her size an unusual quickness of movement and overbearing will that was like an avalanche to behold. Although not of slight build, although my frame was tall, well-proportioned, of Junoesque lines, I quailed in the presence of this woman who, if she had any blood in her of those Royalist forbearers, exhibited only the harshness of their demeanour and none of their grace.

...at last we came to the chamber which served as the dining room, the door was thrust unceremoniously open, and I found myself on what seemed, to my bewildered nerves, to be the dark shore of a blazing sea; I heard the wind outside like breakers and the seashell clink of crystal and silver within. I think for a moment—I was very tired—I supposed I had been asleep, and I was about to wake up: my usual bright, Greek island scene was invading the dream of this sooty, grimy, wet Albion. They were converging and one was about to give way.

Presently I set my empty cup on the counterpane and leaned back under the covers, my face turned toward the window. I listened to a sound which had become strange to me: the rushy, taffeta noise of raindrops falling from leaves as the wind swept through them. In my misery, I liked it.

Against the white ceiling my hot, burning eye saw the mottled menagerie of my mother’s painting space, saw the upright canvas and the splashes of colour she was working into the form of a blue Delft vase and a single, exquisite yellow tulip.

6 ripostes:

  1. I'm sorry to hear about your depression, Jenny.

    The first snippet is particularly intriguing.

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  2. Dear Jenny, it is truly lovely to read a new post for you on The Penslayer, but you know, I really truly understand that it must be a true challenge to go back to a reckless pace of writing and literary work when you are overwhelmed with this wonderful new, but very terrifically large task of birthing and raising a little baby girl - that is a huge full-time job!

    I am very sorry that you've been feeling poorly, emotionally, Jenny, you are indeed an amazing mama! Your little Filligree is so precious, and just seeing your love for your little girl in your posts on instagram is so precious - the photos you share of her are like a little ray of sunshine to my day!

    I find it so amazing that you even occasionally do find moments now and again to scribble a tiny winy bit as a new mama! I am in my senior year of highschool, and I haven't written in ages. I say hurrah for you, that you're not putting to much pressure on yourself (Please don't!) but really taking it easy on your writing, and enjoying what little times you get to toy with editing and writing. That is fantastic! And to be truthfully honest, these snippets are really beautiful, filled with your normal flair of colour and description, but also mellowed with a beautiful new maturity and tender spark.

    I especially love this first snippet, and the last as well :D. Well done, Jenny! And I will keep you in my prayers, dear <3

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  3. "You're - you're a slitherer-outer!"

    It encourages me to know that we are each taking a story and completely overhauling it (which is fun and all, but a different beast than writing a fresh story). I think this revised Adamantine is going to be spectacular; the first person narration evokes the scene and the emotions vividly. I like the fourth bit especially: I can see her on the threshold and feel her surroundings with her. Understated and top-notch at the same time. Howl on. <3

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  4. Aww, I'm sorry to hear about that. :( *hugs* I hope things will get better for you.

    I have never heard Howl's traits applied to us writers... This is now my new favorite thing. I too tend to dislike feeling I "have" to do something, so perhaps going the Howl way as you are and tricking myself into doing things by telling myself I'm NOT could be the best way to combat those feelings! Thanks for this. It is officially awesome.

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  5. "... I found myself on what seemed, to my bewildered nerves, to be the dark shore of a blazing sea; I heard the wind outside like breakers and the seashell clink of crystal and silver within."

    "I listened to a sound which had become strange to me: the rushy, taffeta noise of raindrops falling from leaves as the wind swept through them."

    ^ Chills. Both descriptions gave me chills as only your writing can.

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  6. I always knew I liked Adamantine. <3

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