Anyone who follows my blog – or checks it periodically – will see that I haven’t posted anything for nearly a month.
And I had been doing so well! I was so proud of all the posts I’d managed to crank out since March. Then I suddenly found myself tongue-tied, as it were.
Oh, I’ve been writing. I write something in my journal nearly every day. And I’ve been working on some new poems. But I didn’t have anything blog-worthy to post. I had a few ideas for the blog. But nothing was really materializing. I wanted to write a piece about Sylvia Plath (poet and novelist, 1932-1963). I did some research, made some notes. But that piece didn’t materialize either.
And then I read about that period in Sylvia’s life when she had writer’s block. And I realized I had writer’s block too.
I don’t think there is a writer over the age of 12 who hasn’t experienced writer’s block at some point. It seems the more one tries to fight it, the more insidiously it hangs on. The remedy, then, seems to be to just allow space for not writing, while at the same time, making a commitment to sit down and write, no matter how trivial or flawed the work is. It’s a rather paradoxical trick, I know.
My plan was originally to come up with some profound insight about Sylvia Plath’s suicide that no one had ever reached before. I’m humbled to say that unique insight never dawned on me. Then I found myself moving farther and farther away from writing the piece, as if I’d be obliged to stick my head in the oven if it wasn’t flawless.
To hell with that.
What I will share with you, instead, are a few lesser-known facts about Sylvia’s life that I found especially interesting. If you take anything away from the list, all the better. But if you just read it, you will be joining me in dispelling my latest bout of writer’s block.
At the age of 12 Sylvia Plath scored 160 on an IQ test. (The average is between 90 and 110.)
She submitted more than 40 stories to Seventeen magazine before she had one accepted. She herself was 17 at the time.
She read Gone with the Wind three times.
At the age of 20 she made her first suicide attempt and was very nearly successful. She’d gone missing for three days. She was found in a cubbyhole in the basement, more dead than alive.
She was a staunch pacifist. She hated the atomic bomb and was disturbed by the execution of the Rosenbergs.
Plath’s husband, the English poet Ted Hughes, was physically and verbally abusive. From the sounds of it she held her own in fighting back. The first time she kissed him, she drew blood.
She gave birth to her first child at home, with no anesthetic.
Carl Rollyson. American Isis: The Life and Art of Sylvia Plath.
New York: St Martin’s Press: 2013.
Stephanie Hemphill. Your Own, Sylvia.
New York: Alfred A. Knopf: 2007.