Wednesday, April 12, 2006


Katherine Mansfield from

Thanks so much to everyone who commented on the post below. One of the lies that blocks like this tell you is that you are the only one who has ever experienced it. Naming the beast on the blog, and the response, has been such a relief and I am very grateful.

Up until a few years ago, when its spine broke and pages started to fall out and I had to throw it away, one of the most re-read books in my collection was Katherine Mansfield's Letters and Journals. I can't remember why I bought it, I had never read any of her short stories, but I was captured from the first page.

A New Zealander born in 1888 and living in London in the early part of the twentieth century, a friend of D H Lawrence and Virginia Woolf, Katherine Mansfield instinctively understood the importance of the everyday : books and writing, her husband, her cats (which she adored), flowers, other people (she could be remarkably funny and sometimes bitchy on occasions, which adds to the interest), her travels, the countryside, dealing with her own illness.

She had an anguished relationship with her father, a wealthy banker, whom she felt didn't approve of her lifestyle. There was a failed first marriage and several affairs. She loved her second husband and eventual publisher, John Middleton Murry, but spent many months away from him towards the end of her life trying to find a cure for the tuberculosis that eventually killed her in her thirties. And she wrote about it all - her daily life - in her journals and in her letters to friends. She wrote, too, beautifully judged short stories about people and their seemingly mundane lives. No question about it, she would have been a blogger par excellence.

And thinking about this makes me question why I am being so critical about my own writing at the moment. I've half a dozen posts in the Drafts folder, it's not that I can't write, I just can't press the Publish Post button and I'm far too adept at pressing Delete. Too self-absorbed, my Inner Critic says, you can't write as well as X (insert the name of any blogger here), it's not intellectual or deep enough, too superficial, you can't post that, in fact why don't you just stop blogging altogether ...

Katherine Mansfield celebrated the value of writing about the so-called ordinary. As do the bloggers I admire. Not all of the latter turn out deathless prose with every post. But they trust their own truth, whatever it is on that day, and they press the Publish Post button. They take the leap of faith and it works.

I'd actually forgotten about Katherine until yesterday when I was googling for something, some words of wisdom, that would provide a solution to how I was feeling about my writing. The search engine threw up this quotation of hers which I think is just wonderful and a great mantra for bloggers like me who take themselves far too seriously:

Looking back, I imagine I was always writing. Twaddle it was too. But better far write twaddle or anything, anything than nothing at all.

I'm considering renaming the blog. Twaddle? A Breath of Twaddle?


Blogger Jean said...

Perceptive, quirky, interesting twaddle - as always. I've never read anything by Katherine Mansfield. You make me very much want to.

12:11 pm  
Blogger Endment said...

Great post... love the "Twaddle"
Have to order Katherine Mansfield from the library and see if I want to read more "tremendous trifles of life"

1:16 pm  
Blogger Jess D'Zerts said...

To blatantly steal from LJ, "Guffaw!" Apparently my Inner Critic went to the same school as your Inner Critic. What harpies they are!

4:31 pm  
Blogger rdl said...

Great post! Don't know bout the name change tho and only 6 drafts? stop deleting just save more drafts - that's what i do. Love the quote!

6:39 pm  
Blogger Michael Manning said...

Mary: Great post with a message for all. I agree, she would have made an EXCELLENT Blogger! Now I'll go read the post below.

7:17 pm  
Blogger MB said...

Wonderful! And yes, as you know, I face the same inner beast that wants to say everybody else does it better. What a perfect response Mansfield has!

I have come to realize that I have little ability to discern whether readers will think something good or not, let alone whether it really is (whatever that means!). Sometimes I post something convinced it's rubbish, and it gets a great response. Sometimes I post something thinking pretty highly of it myself and it gets little response! So... I am slowly learning to take my inner critic with a pound or three of salt... as well as the comments! And to take things a little less seriously.

8:56 pm  
Blogger zhoen said...

A puddle of twaddle.

Put it all out there, and see what happens.

12:24 am  
Blogger leslee said...

Heh. Twaddle. I like that. I've been unable to write lately at all. Even in my own brain, tongue-twaddled or addled. I feel it beginning to clear a bit, but then a few days spent with my mom with Alzheimer's and I suspect I'll be completely addled all over again. But it sounds like you have stuff, you're just shy to publish it. Those are usually the best posts, you know. But post when you're ready...

1:02 am  
Blogger Tamar said...

I love this! I have the same struggle as you, Mary. Am ALWAYS wishing I could write more substance and more like this or that person. Twaddle it is! Although I love the title of your blog as it is ... can a person just believe in "twaddle" and not necessarily name their blog that?


12:33 pm  
Blogger Dave said...

Yesterday as my fingers roamed the keyboard in response to the ideas that were coming in like gnats that were swatted away I came back to re-read your previous post and smiled again. The thought of putting down something profound slipped away and I just wrote "I love me for who I am." Then I realized that is what I needed to say. Thank You and God for Twaddle

2:12 pm  
Blogger starnitesky said...

Twaddle - what a wonderful word. I must read this book - yes its sounds like she would have been a very good 'blogger'.

Blogging must become your own thing, your words, the way you are, not to be concerned with being as others are. Your posts are always well worth reading anyway! But I do know how you feel, I often feel my posts are not good enough, but then I decided I was writing my blog for me and not to impress others.

So push that "publish post" button and please don't ever stop.

6:37 pm  
Blogger Patry Francis said...

I've read some of her short stories, but never the journals. Will have to give them a try. They sound wonderful--like your "twaddle."

4:20 am  
Blogger Sky said...

I hope you will find the courage to let the inner critic take a rest so you can begin to trust yourself and us. No need for a mask, we appreciate your true beauty - the real you; we long for your honest words, your truth. There is no right or wrong. You are the best you that you can possibly be - unique and perfect just as you are!

8:53 am  
Blogger LJ said...

We all want to feel less alone. And that's why we read...books, columns, blogs. Someone else out there knows how we feel.
And everyone's slant is a little different - twaddle or not.
I try to give myself permission to post crap sometimes. I'm not proud of it, but I'll post it. And oddly, sometimes this is the bit that amuses someone else or makes them think.
Just keep writing. Just keep writing.
I'm glad you found Katherine Mansfield again and she inspired you.
I'd miss your blog.

9:49 am  
Blogger Mary said...

Thank you all for your kind words. They helped me turn the corner on this one ....

5:52 pm  
Blogger herhimnbryn said...

Writing about the 'ordinary', that's what I try to do. Am on a blog break right now and have been writing in my journal instead. Somehow ideas begin to flow again for me when using a pen ( or pencil) on plain paper!
Your words resonate with me so much.

1:41 pm  
Blogger Koru's Daughter said...

Perhaps you can name the articles that you are unsure of "Twaddle 1" then 2 and so on. That way we get the pleasure of reading them and your inner critic gets recognized but not obeyed.

I am a big (yet new) fan of everything you write. Please publish it all... the trash and the flowers.

1:45 pm  
Blogger Dave said...

Twaddle? Fiddle-faddle! Addled, muddled, even befuddled, perhaps. But twaddle is something you have to actively work at, IMO. Like and advertising copywriter...

5:24 pm  
Blogger Mary said...

Herhimbryn: the pen and paper tip is a good one ... I will try it the next time I am stuck.

KD: and your idea is good too ,,, my only worry is that all the posts would be entitled Twaddle! :-)

Dave: Heh!

10:26 am  

Post a Comment

<< Home