Writers (Un)Block – Lemn Sissay’s voice of reason

The definition of writers block is:

the condition of being unable to create a piece of written work because something in your mind prevents you from doing it


The definition above is said in my head with the voice of Morgan Freeman. It’s said slowly and deliberately so that each word sits with me for a moment.

I write. I have always written. Poems and stories from as far back as I can remember. It’s how I get out what I am feeling without…saying it. I stopped writing poems years ago. I can remember the last one I wrote. I was about twenty-three and the poem come from a dark place that I had forgotten about. I decided that day I would not write poems anymore. And never have.

But I have always had other outlets. From studies to blogs…5-year plans…lists…

I write. It’s what I do to make sense of my madness.

And then….a few months ago…I could not write. It was like waking up and not being able to drive …no….not being able to breathe properly.

That is what it has felt like. Like I can’t breathe.

The last blog I wrote was on the 22nd May, titled “It’s not where you start…it’s where you finish”. I had waited years to write a blog like that. It is a blog about my graduation. The day itself was one of my proudest. And it was the start of a new life. A new me.

But…. Life can be snakey like that. Proper paigon moves life can pull sometimes. So, there I was…living my best life….patting myself on the back for getting it right in the end. Yep… all my ducks lined up just like I planned. Rubbing my hands together …amazed that I pulled it off. Life…I  had caught up with myself and now all was good.

But life…for many of us…just don’t rock like that.

Because some things we don’t factor in. Because we have no idea, they were even an option.

And week by week my very perfect plan unraveled.

This is the only way I can explain it

Imagine spending a long time creating those elaborate domino displays…you know the ones that have all these twists and turns…all standing upright. You can’t see what it is until…once you are finished…you take a breath and give the first one you put down a tap…and then ..with a rush ..that one hits the next one….which hits the next one….you get the picture…and as the dominos start falling people gasp as they finally see they amazing display you have been working on. Brick by brick…for the longest time. But its all worth it when you tap that first brick, and it unravels your big plan.

Well…there I was …laying out my dominos…brick by brick. …Giggle to myself about how amazing it will look when…once I finished and tap that first block…. my grand plan would be there for all to see. Just a few more blocks to go. I can touch the end….don’t rush….

And then…out of nowhere came….a gust of wind. No warning. Well maybe a warning but I thought I could manage it and that my dominos could firm it….but they could not

And so…just like so many people who have tried to create an elaborate domino display….for it all to come crashing down soon…so did mine

I mean…the display was still beautiful. What was left of it. I watched the dominos go one by one and just….stood back….

And …on top of all that…my hands stopped working.

Imagine going through something so sole destroying and you can’t even write about it because your hands just … won’t.

It was like my hands said…wow…that’s not ok…we can’t reflect any of that, so we won’t try.

So…since then… I have just been….going through the motions. Picking up my dominos. Checking what went wrong. Seeing if I can build again. I have tried but that gust of wind is like a hurricane right now….so….probs better to wait.

I ghost when life is giving me a kick-in. I like to ghost. Keep away from everyone. I mean…if you don’t talk about it then it’s not happening…am I right or am I right!

My friends and family have bee worried. I have been getting texts and emails from people the last few weeks saying…are you ok….your very quiet…you’re not writing

This week I and my friend Trish went to see a conversation with Lemn Sissay hosted by Gavin Esler. That is the first time I have been anywhere in months, and I did not want to go. I did. But…I also want to stay at home and clean my dominos for the next big build. So, we went. It was an eventful night with lots of laughing and Trish lying about being a vegetarian,  so she got the best pudding after the meal. I told the staff several times she was lying. But they didn’t believe me. I have tagged the university of Kent into this blog so they can blacklist her from future events. Which is only fair ….

listening to Lemn Sissay is the reason I can write again. I booked the tickets where everything was…ok…not good but ok.

And last week I found myself sitting in the crowd listing to Lemn making sense of it all. It was like he was speaking to me at one point. He spoke about teenage behavior and why children in care get a raw deal when it comes to behavior. He spoke about the fact that teenagers can be angry and cruel and can and will  …at times… use whatever they can to hurt you. Because hormones are rushing, and the world is a mad place. And that we must not always be punitive…we must listen. He spoke about being a teenager himself and …because of many things…suddenly could not leave the house. And no one would believe him…so he had to organise a psychiatrist himself …through his social worker. He spoke about the memories I have long forgotten from my teenage years. The frustration and anger. And he spoke about always wanting to wright. Thank you Lemn. Not sure what it did…but it did.

So …Looks like I am blogging  again


I wrote a poem. Well, I have written loads since last week. Like my heart has gone…well thank Fudge for that…We have 25 years of poems to get out of our system.

And below is my first one

Writers (Un)Block by Kendra Houseman aged 42

The definition of writer’s block is

the condition of being unable to create a piece of written work because something in your mind prevents you from doing it

Its more than that

Its like a dark fog slowly covering your brain

And you just have to sit there and take it

Feeling like you are losing control of your one outlet

To write is to have a voice

A choice

To be able to write about the things that matter to you

Whether it be writing tweets about social injustice

Blogs about the state of the education system

Or direct messages to MPs making noise

To write…is to have a voice

So, writer’s block takes away that voice

It disables you from the one way that you may have to communicate

When I can’t write…

I can’t speak



Suddenly I can no longer advocate

I can’t say what I need to… like

Stop criminalising our children for their own abuse

Stop using the word exchange when talking about child sexual exploitation


 Why aren’t we marching the streets about Jaden Moodie and every other child that is killed on our streets and we don’t even speak their name…

And breath…

To write is to have a voice

Writers block is a condition, so the definition says

Being unable to write because my mind prevents me from doing so

Like a pause

Or a big breath

To catch my breath

Maybe writer’s block is just that

Allowing the mind to take a deep breath…

So that when you catch your breath again you are thankful

Thankful to have freedom of speech, pen …paper….

Lemn Sissay once said

Poetry is the voice at the back of the mind

I think he is right

Like cogs that keep turning


Sometimes mine grind

To write is to have a voice

A voice that was taken from me back then

You cannot have it now

You can pause it ..sure…while I catch my breath

But then I will take it back because

To write is to have a voice

And I will not lose mine again

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