Feeling mute — how my editing of words is a problem

I don’t articulate myself very well. 

When it comes to the little things — the weightless feelings — I get diarrhoea and can’t shut up, so I’ve got no issue here. Other people might have one, though, but I don’t.

When it comes to the big things — the massive feelings — I get tongue-tied, make little sense, and usually end up in a muddle. If I’m doing this verbally then I’ll get frustrated, shout, and storm off in a huff to fester. If I’m writing it down then I’ll edit, I’ll edit, I’ll edit until I end up with a page of nothing.


Except it isn’t silent because my brain is reeling.


Verbal words are always made more difficult if there’s a smidge of confrontation, and by ‘confrontation’ I mean ‘explanation’. I find explaining myself really hard. If I’ve not over-rehearsed myself to the point that I say nothing, I start speaking and feel compelled to edit what I say when I can’t, and I suppose it’s this pressure that gets me tongue-tied.

And then I walk away to fester.

I find this bee in my bonnet that I change for a wasp, and I poke it and prod it to really fuck it off.

And just like how all those wasp stings eventually become one big sting on my head, I get angrier and angrier until I get a migraine.

Basically, if I articulated myself in the first place then I would save myself a headache.


Written words are the easiest and hardest words for me to say. I find them easy to write down and even easier to edit — the real hard part is keeping them on the page.

My book, once 70-thousands words with a title is now a sentence, unnamed. That’s been edited away quite successfully. I deserve a medal for what I’ve done.

Blog posts, which is surely a good place for a writer to write, just don’t get written. Well, they do get written, they just don’t get published because they don’t make any sense.

Poems, texts, a tweet — well, all that’s the same thing. I end up saying nothing and it’s not for want of trying.


I liken my editing to losing my voice.

I feel mute.

I feel like an overinflated balloon, the words stretching my head just the same.

It’s painful just without the physical pain.


What is editing? It is questioning. I use my words and question them.


I’ve always had difficulty articulating myself, but I’ve always been able to write words. Written words and me, we’ve always had this dalliance.

But then my gran and cousin died in early ’15 and things, like words, got tricky. They weren’t hard but they weren’t easy. It was a time when I needed written words and they were there for me like always, they were just feeling a little peaky.

And then came my breakdown and my grievance with The Southern Co-operative. I suppose, having to write a statement to defend my grief to a funeral home proved mortal to already weakened words, because after that, they died.

Luckily, over time, they’ve got better.

I put that down to my blind perseverance and the fact that I know when to give up. If it’s important, it’ll come back, and I always hope that I’ll actually say it.

These days, those weekend posts get written, read, jigged, read, tweaked, read, and published. There’s barely an edit in sight. Better yet, there’s barely an empty page.

Not so for any other post, though. There are a couple with pins in them but the rest get edited to death. A few do get published, but if it wasn’t for the weekend posts, this blog would be a lot of silence.

The book, like I said, is a sentence. It’s actually a little longer but I only count the first sentence because it’s been with me the longest. It’s hung in there! A whole month now. Success! But then I’ve been here with this book before. It’s a bit like beating a dead donkey that twitches — there’s still life there! I’m not willing to give up.

The real reason why I’ll never give up is because all this trying gives me something to do.


Verbally, I can help myself if I limit rehearsal time. If I can feel assured that I know what I want to say then I can actually say it and say it orderly. I also need to seize the moment. I always know what I want to say when I first need to say it, so if I speak up I’ll never need to come back to the topic, and I’ll save myself a migraine.

I suppose, to unmute my verbal words, I need to use them before I notice.

Since I already know what I want to say, if I say it real quick like — just speak — I’ll have explained myself before I’m ready to edit.

I’m a bit like the hare and the tortoise. I’ve always got to pause before I edit. I’ve just got to speak quicker than that.


To help my writing, I need to write and not edit. It’s simple and obvious. Why didn’t I think of that?

It’s just not that easy. 

It’s not like the old days when I was found with words behind the bike sheds. These days, I watch them evaporate. I feel that thrill like we’ve always felt and then it feels like a long ago memory. It’s not pleasant.

The words for the book, they are there. I can feel them, and I’ll catch them — I know I will! It’s just the theme is grief and that’s something I find particularly hard to articulate but need to. I can let myself off, though, because grief’s hard to say anyway. I’m sort of trying to say the impossible.

The words for blog posts and other writings need a bit of conviction given by me. I am, after all, the owner of a voice. I’m not mute. I can speak. I have an opinion and what-have-you that I agree with.

For this post, at the time of writing this paragraph, I’ve not read what I’ve written. This can sometimes happen but it’s unusual for such a big topic, and for a post so lengthy. My current thoughts are, it’s all a pile of bullshit but I’m telling myself that it isn’t, it all makes sense. I’ve written it in chunks. I’ve written it slowly. This has been something plaguing my mind for ages but most notably, these last few days. I need to read it. I need to give it a title. I need to say all of this aloud, too.

Let’s see how much I edit…

(I’m going to get a cup of tea first. It seems, this is going to be a late publishing. I’ve also got chocolate cake so, I’m sorry, I have other priorities.)

I’m back!

And I actually feel like I’ve returned. Like, Hi! I’m back in the room.

What you’re reading is pretty much what I’d written. I had a few spelling mistakes and a couple of sentences where halfway through I’d changed my mind. I also added a bit. A tweak here. But other than a mild trim, this post unedited. The evidence for which, the words.


So I can do it.

I can explain myself by taking words and making sentences.

Of course, my ability was never in question, but it is nice to see something that plagues me written without any need to edit.

Tomos James