I’ve actively avoided writing any kind of blog post for the past four months. I had intended to go back to writing monthly updates – or at least an update about my changed circumstances – but roughly a week after my last day at my old job, COVID-19 reached the UK and everything went… well, you know. So late, as ever, but with the benefit of some hindsight, here it is.Continue reading “Where are you going? Where have you been?”
Day three of relentless sunshine, and I have taken to hiding indoors. I’m a cold-weather person. I like blue skies and light, but I also like the temperature to be cold. And dry. I’m actually (it turns out) ever so slightly allergic to sunlight. I wear a lot of suncream but will still get little ‘aaaaargh UV LIGHT!’ welts on my forearms after a day doing stuff outside. Continue reading “For the birds”
The evening before Easter weekend, I deactivated my primary Twitter account. In the great time-suck that is social media, Twitter is the Big Boss. Facebook has messed with the algorithms of the newsfeed to such an extent that it’s barely worth looking at it, because everything is advertising or repeats from three days earlier. Instagram is a pleasant skim-through, done in five minutes. But Twitter – especially what I think of as my Big Twitter newsfeed – is intensely literary, political and oft-times angry and once I open it (which I mostly do without thinking) I sit there reading and feeling shittier and shittier.
Saturday, April 1st – and the local council’s April Fool is to set workmen going with a jackhammer right outside the house, uprooting lampposts. Again, it’s Saturday. It’s the weekend. Everyone’s home trying to have a little lie-in and then do some household chores – at least, they are at this time in the morning. When the noise started up, I went to the window to snoop and scowl, and it seemed all the people in our little cul-de-sac had moved as one. We scowled at each other across the tarmac and then at the poor workmen who, let’s face it, probably don’t want to be working on a Saturday any more than we want them to be. I imagine in a short while there will be a mass exodus just to get away from the rattling.
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.
Hello lovely readers (if you’re still out there after a month of silence).
It’s that point in the evening when the sun drops low enough to sit on next door’s roof. If I’m sat on the sofa, working – which I am, and have been all bloody day – the light blinds me for about five minutes. It is very pleasant to be wilfully dazzled. Seems like the time to crack open some cider.
For the purposes of this weekend, I have renamed cider ‘Don’t Care Juice’. Continue reading “Whys and wherefores”
The problem with this blog, I’m discovering as I get more and more lax about updating, is that the longer I put off writing anything for it the more there’s a jumble of things to write about. And then I can’t find a solid topic for a post – or even any kind of hub for the mess to revolve around – and it becomes bitty and a rubbish read, and that puts me off writing, and the cycle perpetuates.
Over the past two weeks I’ve developed a crush on the entire Costa coffee staff at my local train station. In the way that a really good musician, or someone really good with words (or, combine the two, a bloody good lyricist – oh WHAT I’m a cliché and a pushover, I know it) can get my heart thumping, apparently so can anyone who hands me coffee with a smile in the morning – at the moment, anyway. And it doesn’t even need to be with a smile. It can be the nervous shrug of the girl who’s still learning the ropes; the slight scowl of the dude in the beanie who is clearly a rock star when he’s not working; the super efficiency of the fellow with the beard who reminds me a bit of one of my uncles; or the jitteriness of the skinny raver who calls me petal. Continue reading “Love and impatience”
The decision to do interviews on this blog was the right one, I think.
The interview with Emily Macaulay that I posted earlier this week is already the second most viewed thing I’ve ever posted. First place goes to a film/event review/critique that was retweeted by the director and one of the actors, and actually the interview is rapidly gaining on that! This is nice not so much because of view numbers (if I truly cared about those I would have stopped blathering into the ether a long time ago) but because I sincerely think it’s a good review and that Emily is worth reading about. So I’ll be doing more interviews – a couple of people have already agreed to be the next
Still, I thought, since we’re nearing the end of the first month of 2016 already, I should probably put a nod in as well – a bit unwillingly, but then once I’ve done this entry, I can’t use it as an excuse not to work on everything else. (Yes, this is how I get through To Do lists – I deliberately don’t list things so that I can use them as procrastination for items that are on the list. Then I write them in and tick them off afterwards. Makes me feel productive, and the warm glow of productivity is my drug of choice.)
It started with various global disasters/massacres, deaths of beloved public figures (typing away to Hunky Dory right now) and has continued with a rolling programme of bad news closer to home. It has, briefly put, been shit so far. The only saving grace is that things that would ordinarily stress me out in life are now no worse than being kicked by a gnat: bothersome, but there’s no strength behind them and they’re easy enough to swat. The good things are worth celebrating, of course, always. So day to day it’s a zen life – I’m drifting in the anti-grav atmosphere around those solid ice-cold fucking twin planets called Worry and Grief. And please, please don’t message asking if I’m all right. That concern should be directed to people who aren’t me. I’m a moon in this particular scenario, a faraway one. And this metaphor has died on its feet.
Sorry-not-sorry for the swearing.
Things that are happening: I’m attempting my first writing grant applications this month, with a view to attempting some more, because why not? Fingers crossed for those. I’m braced (or not, because I don’t care right now) for a slew of rejections. I’m slogging through a manuscript, determined to get to the end of Zero Draft so I can focus on absolutely anything else. I’m clearing out a lot of my belongings (I have a couple of hundred, I think, books up for grabs. Will be giving them away or selling them. If you might be interested is some pre-loved literature, please speak up.) I’m going to Newcastle Literary Salon tomorrow night. I’m developing what is positively a streak of silver in my hair. I’ve been drawing a lot of pictures (not so much this week, but I was) and putting said pictures up on a new Instagram account. I’m sort-of-learning electric guitar. It’s kind of fun to be so so so bad at an instrument.
Right now I’m on a train heading for my second singing lesson of the year. I managed to cut myself just above my right tonsil at some point last night (dinner? weird dream? spider in mouth?) which is painful and a bit odd. I have a sore throat on one side, that doesn’t affect my voice at all but makes eating a bit of a chore. I have no idea how singing will go. Wish me luck.
Now reading: The Rabbit Back Literature Society by Pasi Ilmari Jääskeläinen. I’m reading this slowly so that I don’t run out of it too soon. That’s how good it is.
(No picture for this entry – too awkward to sort out on train wifi).