Life Is Like A Song

Lately that song is Suzanne Vega’s Tom’s Diner.

Real life is happening all around – and let’s be frank, the reported news, in any medium, is universally grisly – and I am only a spectator, waiting at the counter for my coffee, too inconsequential to be given the full cup, and making the best of it. And it’s okay, because people watching is what people who are writers do (assuming I can still call myself such). I watch life happen to other people, until it’s time to catch the train, only I don’t know from which platform, or my destination. Out there, somewhere. Single, not return.

Single.

If it sounds like I’m moaning, I’m really not. Maybe a bit, but, don’t we all? I never was a Polly-Anna type. Having stepped back from social media, it’s become harder to fully participate again. So I lurk, non-malignantly. Leaving Facebook helped save my sense of self, although paradoxically means that I have fallen off the edge of the planet/am dead to some people. Oh well. Twitter is the stream I dangle a few toes in, and sometimes a hand. I just can’t seem to get into the swim though. Instagram is for pretty things. I like pretty things. They’re restful.

 

I can’t stop thinking. I can’t stop thinking long enough to do, to make, to write. And I must. I keep promising myself that I will. But, WHEN?

 

Oh, help.

Starting Again.

Gosh it’s been an absolute age since I last thought about writing a post. And there are lots of good reasons why that has been the case. It’s just I hadn’t realised so much time had passed. Oh, gulp.

So, here I am, taking a deep breath, mucking about with the design of this thing (procrastination much!), and starting again.

Hi.

How are you?

Are blogs still a thing, now? Sod it, even if they aren’t, I’m still going to (re)do this.

So. The reasons why I haven’t been writing AT ALL for the last nearly two years:

Separation, followed by online dating (absolute hell), followed by feeling Very Low Indeed, followed by discovering hygge (yes, I know, and it helps me) followed by preparing to move house, followed by actually moving house (the first bit always takes longer than you think), followed by settling in and loving it, and looking at the sky a lot, followed by a realisation.

I haven’t been writing. I’ve edited, a bit. A very little bit. And I’ve been having thoughts and making notes, but I haven’t been actually writing. And now it’s been so long, that sometimes I wonder if I should even try. Resurrecting this blog is a way of beginning that process. Because I feel guilty, I feel less than I think I could be. I’ve become a lurker in my own life, never mind how far I’ve pulled back on the social media thing. The world has changed so much, so fast, and the lunatics are in charge and it’s all going to shit and what can you do?

I want to not feel so hopeless (helpless is a given, while things are the way they are in the wider world, and you’d better believe I am LIVID about all of it – but I can’t live like that, burning up all the time), and then it came to me, that as my world has shrunk, as I have withdrawn, because I needed to, I have been living without passion. And it’s awful. I must reignite it. Fuel it. I must write.

Here it begins, again.

A realisation:

I’m currently reading – and very near to finishing – David Mitchell’s The Bone Clocks. To say that I’m loving it is an epic understatement. I’m finding it strange, and wonderful, and gripping, and beguiling. Hilarious  in places, the literary scene leg pulling; laugh out loud hilarious. And delightful too, from a writerly, rather than readerly, perspective. When David Mitchell plays with language, he really plays; poetic writing that riots across the page, teasing  with rhythm, with balance, with alliteration, with semantic strings of meanings and oppositions. In my opinion – humble or otherwise – he is a writer’s writer: fearlessly, genre bendingly, inventive.

It’s not overstating the case to say, that whilst reading The Bone Clocks, I arrived at an epiphany. A moment of clarity, if you will. A reference is made, in the novel, to a piece of music I had not come across before. I’m not particularly au fait with Sibelius, but for some reason I had to stop reading to google The Swan of Tuonela. A rewarding hiatus in reading, for it gave me a thing of beauty, and an inspiration, a way back into the story I began in my aborted NaNoWrimo effort. And it gave me the realisation that all stories are maps. They show us the way – if we are receptive to seeing – the way into other stories, and the stories of others. They show us ways into ourselves, and the way through our own stories. They show us the path behind us, that brought us to here, to now. And they show us all the ways forward. This may already have been blindingly obvious to you. Intellectually, I knew it. But, listening to the music, I felt it. Epiphanic. And, ecstatic.

An Admission of Failure

Annoying, isn’t it, and frustrating, when just as you think you’re beginning to get a handle on things, beginning to get the hang of things again, something happens to derail you, and you’re left feeling like utter rubbish. A Failure.

I haven’t attempted NaNoWriMo since 2011. This year I felt ready, in the zone, itching to fling a constant stream of words at the screen. And I began, and it was enjoyable. The story is utterly ridiculous, but it’s growing out of an idea I’ve had in my head, and various notebooks for a while now. And having spent most of this year editing and redrafting stuff, rather than writing from scratch, it felt so bloody GOOD to be flying free again.

And then I was ill. Felled for the best part of three days by a sore throat and a headache I wouldn’t wish on my worst enemy. I fell behind. Not just on NaNo, but on everything. E-V-E-R-Y-T-H-I-N-G. Just as I’d finally found that tenuous balance, all the spinning plates came crashing down. Because, you see, owing to circumstances of Life, I am now operating as a single mother. And that’s fine, and as it needs to be. But, if things aren’t done, they remain not done until I do them. There is no one to pick up the day to day slack. And now I’m back on my feet, but setting all those plates spinning again is… hard. I feel paralysed. All I want to do is sleep. After years of not sleeping at all well, now I’ve gone the other way. And there are all those things to be done, waiting for me. Something’s got to give. Preferably not me. Not again. So NaNoWriMo, adieu, for this year. I know it’s all there, my writing, waiting for me. But oh, the frustration. There’s nothing like kicking yourself when you’re down, to compound the knowledge that you’re useless.

 

An in-between Summer…

I haven’t blogged for ooh, ages. I know. I’ve been meaning to, but, you know how it is. And I absolutely have to make a conscious decision to be better organised. Although, in my defence, I had three weeks of rather nasty back pain that stopped me in my tracks. It’s frightening how something so simple can utterly derail everything: there is no getting away from back pain, it colours everything in jagged spines that slice right through the core of you. And then it just becomes so fucking boring, too. But never mind, it’s done with now. Hurrah.

So I’m in that in-between phase, in the no-man’s land between having been a bit useless, and gearing up to Do All The Things. And it’s the school holidays too: my daughter has finished primary school, and is doing the developmental groundwork before full rehearsals for the teenage years begin. And of course, getting ready for secondary school. We have begun buying the uniform etc. And I have remembered how to tie a tie, a thing I haven’t had to wear since 1988. So there’s that little tidbit of knowledge to impart. And once the new routine begins in September, and the new stationery has been bought, and the new pencils sharpened, perhaps new words will be transmitted from brain to paper, and screen.

So in the meantime, we play. We go to the cinema, (we’ve seen Ant-Man, and LOVED IT, and Inside Out, which we enjoyed), we go swimming, we’ll be going to London, and there’ll be other things to do too. In the meantime, I have to negotiate access to my desk, while my daughter constructs worlds in MineCraft.

In the meantime, there is the small matter of rehearsing some readings. I have been asked to participate in the Spoken Word event at this year’s Stroud Fringe Festival. I have been described, by someone whose professional opinion I value a great deal, as ‘an up and coming writer’. Oh, GULP. Someone has faith in me, and has publicly declared it. And I find that I am feeling a little daunted. I mustn’t disappoint. I mustn’t let them down. I absolutely HAVE to be better at what I do. Cue, getting organised. Etc.

In the meantime, here is something I’ve been listening to for ages, because I love it. I’m listening to it now, in fact. So plug in your headphones, close your eyes/ turn out the lights, and let it wash through you. It’s beautiful.

NB: As of yet, the Fringe website does not have performance details. But it will, soon.