Friday, February 26, 2016

Doing, Reading, Listening etc

One week's break from doing these DRL posts is enough for me to have completely lost my momentum, which is no surprise. The reason I impose schedules and routines upon myself is because if I don't have them then I don't do stuff and then trying to make myself do stuff is just about as effective as trying to make myself clean that bit of the toilet that you can only reach with rubber gloves and a sponge.

Doing; further schedules that have fallen apart - writing. I can't remember when I last even opened the files I'm working on. I wouldn't be surprised if my word count has started to drop, sentences dying from neglect, paragraphs eating other ones out of hunger and boredom. I can't bear to look. Monday, I'll do it on Monday. 

Instead of writing I've been doing long weekends, visitors, parenting, storm avoidance, mostly rather fun. Simultaneously though I've been banging my head against the walls of housing, schooling, taxes, employment, unemployment... adulthood in other words. Adulthood is a piece of crap. 

Reading {paper} I finished Purple Hibiscus, it was beautiful. Not as beautiful as Half of a Yellow Sun but not as gruelling either. Still gruelling! Just domestic-violence-and-Catholicism gruelling, not rape-genocide-and-civil-war gruelling. 

Immediately upon finishing it I started Isabelle Allende's Portrait in Sepia, read three pages, fell asleep, woke up forgetting that I'd begun it and started reading Game of Thrones (alternatively titled Murder Tits). It's only writing this now, a week later, that Portrait in Sepia came back to me, poking at that part of my brain labelled 'I'm sure I'm supposed to be doing something, what was that? Did I start doing it already? Did I imagine it? Was it all a dream?'.

I read Allende's memoir My Invented Country in the summer, it was a beautiful if irritating study of nostalgia and homesickness, truth and invention, memory and storytelling and writing one's history. It strikes me that I should probably re-read it, now that those things are on my mind more or less all of the time. I photographed the passage at the top of this post (I love photography as a form of note taking, looking back for this picture I was reminded of exactly where and when I was reading this book - by a playpark, under a tree, overlooking a field of donkeys in a camp site in the CĂ©vennes ) because as someone who finds memory, dreams and imagination to be an irredeemably tangled ball of twine it spoke to me deeply and thrillingly. 

Reading {internets} I have read two beautiful and infinitely helpful pieces about doing and making and being in the last couple of weeks. One is this Huffington Post piece To Anyone Who Fears They're Falling Behind In Life which felt like a letter written straight to me, 

'You don't get to control everything. You can wake up at 5 a.m. every day until you're tired and broken, but if the words or the painting or the ideas don't want to come to fruition, they won't. You can show up every day to your best intentions, but if it's not the time, it's just not the fucking time. You need to give yourself permission to be a human being.'

The other piece was Ted Thompson's The Evolution of a First Novel, written two years ago it's the tale of the painful, interminable process of writing a book, of the stops and starts and false turns and the 'I think it's finished! No, wait, I know it's been five years of work but I'm going to throw 95% of this in the bin and start again.' 

'Before I started this, I was always mystified by how books got written. Like how does anyone get from one of those half-formed 2 a.m. ideas to a bound object with a beautiful jacket and 300 deckled pages? Did that take a couple of weekends locked away in a cabin, or was the author struck by creative lightning after work? It seemed impossible or magical. It seemed like something that could only be achieved by very special people—David Foster Wallace in his bandana, looking forlornly away from the camera, or people who lived in other eras and unironically wore hats.' 

Reading both of these pieces released some of the intense pressure I've felt to Just Fucking Write, the feeling that if I apply myself hard enough I will get it done and I will get it done fast, and replaced that with a more healthy sense of doing it in the length of time it actually takes, not the length of time I think it should take. Of course I haven't written a work in ten days, so maybe I need to dial the pressure back up a little. 

Finally, Laura wrote this beautiful piece about being a mother, Sometimes {Moments From Motherhood} that brought tears to my eyes and spoke to me in a way that nothing I've read about motherhood has done for a long time. Laura is one of those parents who inspires me to do a better job, to play more, to listen harder, to let me kids be themselves and she does it without making me want to hold her head underwater and pelt her with wet toast, that's a skill.  I'm not going to post a quote from it because it's something that needs to be read in its entirety.


  1. You are the kindest. I'm so pleased that someone else gets in and feels it too because FUUUUUCK YEAH! I'm not alone!

    And I really appreciated that Huffpo article;

    ' are as you are until you're not. You change when you want to change. You put your ideas into action in the timing that is best.'

    This makes me feel so much better about my current situation.


    1. I'm so glad it helped, I thought it was a deeply reassuring piece.

  2. introv.butterfly2/3/16 11:43 am

    I love these posts, especially the internets reading part. The Huffington Post article was really reassuring in some way. Motivation is difficult and keeping it up is even more so, especially when you're not really sure if it's motivation you're lacking or purpose or even the right goals. As for expectations and the desire to control life, they'are often not helpful at all, but they're so hard to give up.

    I think we, as readers, may have been putting even more pressure on you to keep writing. As a blog reader, it's easy to get caught up in the fact that someone's writing gives you comfort and forget that maybe it's not giving THEM comfort. So yeah, you just do what you need to do and feel how you need to feel. (Obviously you didn't need my permission for all that, but I felt bad for always saying writeabookwriteabook). x

    1. Oh god no, you really haven't, that encouragement has probably been the single most motivating thing in getting me to actually start writing and I'm endlessly grateful for it. Please don't ever feel bad xx

    2. introv.butterfly9/3/16 9:38 am

      Awfully kind of you to say so. Glad the constant pushing hasn't been a nuisance. x


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