Oof, after the last slightly bleak Overly Honest entry, I think I owe this site some sort of more cheerful update. Relevant to that entry: I’m on antidepressants now and I’m in a far better headspace than I was. Thank you to everyone IRL who is both giving me room to get back on an even keel, but also checking up on me subtly and sweetly. I do notice and I do appreciate it. Unexpected meds side-effect: I have discovered that I’m of an age where, when I say I’m not drinking at the moment, people give my belly a knowing look and I find myself explaining that I’m not pregnant, actually, that’s just my shape. So that’s fun.
Tradition, isn’t it, to write a post summing up the year? I’m getting it out of the way a few days early, because 1) I’m having a little flap about the current Work In Progress right now, and so this is a nice procrastination and 2) in a couple days I am seeing my family and will have no time for posts, only for them and actually finishing a reasonable first draft of the WIP.
OH GOD I’m in imminent danger of being a writer bore, I’m so sorry.
Here’s a quick list of good and awful things that have happened over the course of this year, as much as I can remember on a mid-holiday day when I should be doing something else.
I’m writing a blog post, which is how you all know I’m procrastinating. We’ve got this massive whiteboard propped against the fake fireplace (the furnishing skills of myself and CM are such that our home permanently looks like a long-con grifter HQ crossed with a bric-a-brac stall. This morning I woke to find that the Giant Toy Hedgehog that we use as a pillow for long car journeys had been propped on a shelf in our room between a rarely-used Gothic chess set, and my TBR book stack and necklace stand that I made by warping a cooling tray. It was staring at me. I nearly had a heart attack, and our room looks more like a storage box than ever…)… Continue reading
Last week I bought (yet another) notebook and a lovely skinny pen, and the first thing I did – apart from sketch a thing that could have been a Sunday roast or an arctic roll being frowned at by an angry-looking fish – was write a to-do list on the back page in an effort to get thoughts and deeds in order.
Does anyone else get to the Monday of a bank holiday weekend and find themselves feeling down about how little they accomplished over the previous two days? And about how much they have to cram into the Monday because they did all the fun stuff already but also wasted quite a lot of time playing stupid fecking Facebook games and can’t seem to just start the things they ought to be getting on with? And then procrastinate further by writing a pointless blog entry?
Ok, not totally pointless, but I’m not going to actually report on anything. Just mumble quietly about life. Are you sitting comfortably? Then we’ll begin.
This applies to everything. Everything. In the past week we’ve had one of our dogs down the vet being checked for what is, in all likelihood, just middle age rearing its head. I’m not going into the full details of what’s actually been up with her, but there’s a combination of relief that she’s not got a terrible disease combined with sheer sadness that our beloved idiot pooch is actually starting to show her age. And then it’s a really easy hop-skip-jump to everyone’s getting so bloomin’ old.
My parents (who read this, actually: HI MUM AND DAD (and also sorry for this bit and also a joke near the end that you’ll hate) are now, to me, reaching the age and level of health difficulties where I’m wondering if living so far away is selfish of me; I should be closer. Not something I’ve actually discussed with the Coffee Monster, btw. But it’s on my mind. And it’s not just them – we are on a stroke count of 4 in adults of that generation that I know and love. Heart attack count: 3. And no more grandparents. My parents are the grandparents now. It’s terrifying.
Also, not entirely unrelated, it’s my birthday in a couple of weeks, and we all know that I’m totally calm about the getting older thing. I bought hanging baskets on Saturday. Hanging baskets, for outside the house. With little flowers in them. Shut up.
NOT GETTING STUFF FINISHED
For probably the first weekend ever (or at least in a long time) I did not write a To Do list this weekend. Because I never do everything on the damn list, and that makes me feel worse. And I find it overwhelming to read. And I just had enough of having things to do all the time.
CM said yesterday that ‘I know I take forever to get things done, but then at least I know if something is really niggling at me, I really do want to do it’. Which is one way to look at it, and there’s nothing quite like the relief of having scratched that itch after months of itching, I guess (I’m awaiting this feeling on a few fronts at the moment). Not sure the relief is worth the torture, mind. I think I’ve had a few too many of these things on my mind for too many months. Partly for work. Partly just me – which means I ought to just be able to forget them, but I can’t.
I really, really do not subscribe to the more spiritual conversations about being a writer. They downright irritate me, actually: ‘I just have to write. My soul pours out on the page etc etc.’ Usually in more flowery language than that, but I can’t bring myself to go there. Annoyingly though, stories really are an irritating bloody thing. They really do squat in my brain pan and witter on at me in the background all day. And I’ve got two long projects which will not shut up ‘til they’re done. I know that, and it’s making me miserable. I’d feel better if I just finished the first draft of one of them. I really would. Expectations for myself of things I’d like to do are just as bad – those things ranging from actually performing some music to actually buying a car. There’s like a big mental freeze on it all, and there really shouldn’t be.
FIGURING OUT HOW TO FINISH STUFF
So I’ve sort of belatedly realised that if I can scratch that story(&ors) itch first thing, with just a few words of some sort, any sort, then I can focus on the more boring work I need to get done far more easily. I don’t know why it’s taken me so long to figure out why I freeze in the face of a lot to do, and how to break that freeze (NEARLY 34 YEARS). I think I subscribed to a sort of dinner-time approach to work. Like, ‘If you eat all the vegetable jobs first, then you can have the ice cream writing afterwards’. But I’m a backwards-eater in To Do lists as well as in food, it seems. This was the nicer analogy, by the way. I nearly went with the one about wanking before going on a date.
I suppose I should just go and get on with it.
- Currently reading: Erm. Nothing, actually. For shame.
During this morning’s walk my dog stopped in front of an elder tree – one of many trees in a plantation that seems to be a mixture of oak, elder, ash and beech. It was marginally larger than the others around it and the only one not to have its trunk cased in plastic. She sniffed it and went to move on to the next one – then abruptly turned back and sat, in the pouring rain, staring at this tree with her head cocked and her tail wagging like it does when she thinks she’s going to get a biscuit.
“I might get more blog-happy this week, because I have time and head- space and a game plan. This is the springboard for the summer – I’m a leaf on the wind etc etc.”
Ooof. What idiot signs off a blog post with that sort of optimism? Didn’t happen, obviously. Life keeps running away with me at the moment. Or I run away with it – to Amsterdam, a couple of weeks ago; to a writing conference the following weekend.
There’s this quote that I see repeated, often, on Twitter and Pinterest, which is taken from Amy Poehler’s excellent book Yes Please.
“I believe great people do things before they are ready.”
And this one:
“You do it because the doing of it is the thing. The doing is the thing. The talking and worrying and thinking is not the thing.”
I could actually happily post most of the text here. Yes Please is that sort of book that makes you want to try harder and do more. It also sort of makes you want to throw yourself at Amy Poehler’s feet and do the full Wayne’s World ‘We’re not worthy’ thing.
The new place is starting to look a bit more like home now. We’re actually in it, for a start, properly. No more camping out and grabbing clothes from backpacks. We have a lovely new bed, complete with lovely new mattress and bedclothes (bedclothes that, for a touch of nostalgia, are patterned with an old map of southeast London. Our old flat is on the pillowcases). We have a comfy sofa that we will try (in vain) to convince the dogs they are not sharing with us. The TV is set up, the shelves are built and crammed with books. I can get up earlier than the rest of the household and not worry about waking up three other people (CM doesn’t count because experience has taught me that he can sleep through almost anything). There’s still some chaos, but now we can stop and breathe and look at the next step – which basically amounts to moving out again.
Oh god, the next step. Those steps never stop coming, huh? Continue reading
I’m still buzzing. I’ve forgotten how to slow down and not wake up in the morning with a ‘must do’ list already in place. The moving deadline that was egging us on last month is gone, and we are mostly settled, at least for the time being, with far less of a rush to sort out the remaining things. So there’s no need for me to be, in most areas of my life, demanding more (Why haven’t you gone to a poetry reading yet? Why haven’t you made an appointment with the bank? Go out! Join a gym! Move move move! ) But I can’t seem to stop doing it just yet.