Sea Set

This time last year I was working on the first draft of a novel in sea-side isolation. It was wonderful. And I came away with a complete first draft (give or take a few thousand words) and a head full of good intentions for the year to come.

Since then we’ve moved house and gone through a year of normal-life routines. And I’m still working, ever-so-slowly, on my second draft. Luckily, I’ve come far enough in this project not to give up; luckily, I still believe in this idea. And so this Easter holiday I’ve crammed all my distracting household jobs into the first couple of days, and I’m readying myself to plough through the next stage of redrafts.

I will try to remember how timeless life became last Easter with its incredible sunsets and roaring coastline. I will close my door and remember the sound of the sea against the garden wall. I will write.



 I’m not the most efficient writer I know. I find it very hard to achieve a lot of work in an evening. But I do try. My evenings are planned and timetabled week by week: there’s a certain amount of work I aim to get done.  I might waste a lot of time staring at my computer screen or reading Twitter (which is where the inefficiency comes in) but generally by the end of the week, I’ve met my target one way or another.

I refer to this process as ‘work’. It’s misleading. I don’t get paid for it; no one makes me do it. It’s work that I’ve chosen to do for no reason other than that I want to ‘be’ a writer. Which is a hard thing to explain to the average non-writer.

Occasionally I get asked to do extra work at school in the evenings and I find it difficult to turn it down. I’m one of the few support staff without children and therefore a solid reason why I absolutely can’t do anything else in the evening... so I’m often an early point of call when cover is needed.

When I do extra paid work, my writing time suffers but I find it hard to justify my writing as being ‘work’. Indeed there’s no payoff to speak of and it’s very difficult to explain why I think it’s important to maintain my commitment... particularly when someone’s stuck and needs support to cover an absence.

If I had another paid job in the evenings, I would have to turn things down more regularly than I currently feel able to. Is it really any different, I wonder? Is a commitment made for oneself less of a commitment than the ones made to other people?

Image by Ildar Sagdejev.



Things I Would Have Forgotten

I raided my ‘unused posts’ folder to find today’s post, and I found this little snippet of my life from sometime last year. The thing is, I have absolutely no recollection of this happening. It’s frightening how much of our lives (well, of mine at least) disappear into the forgotten. It’s a blessing that I write some of them down.

Twice last week I had a strange encounter on the way home.

The first time, a man rolling a cigarette with one hand and gesturing to me with the other approached me as I walked down the street. Nervous about what he was doing, I looked down at the pavement and noticed how the leaves were beginning to turn, determined not to make eye contact.

Once he was within earshot, he said to me – very earnestly – “Excuse me, babe, you’re psychic, you know that? Don’t you ever lose it, alright?”

I nodded blankly.

“Alright?” he said firmly.

“OK,” I said and nodded a bit harder.

He nodded, apparently satisfied, and went on his way.

The next day, I had to stop at the supermarket on my way home. As I was walking back across the car park, I felt someone match my pace with theirs and say, “Beautiful day, isn’t it?”

Normally when people approach me like this, I know them. There are several people I know who find it amusing to begin a conversation in this way, when you’re not even aware that they’re there. So I assumed I knew this guy, and I said, “Hi!” hoping to buy myself some time while I figured out who it was. Then I realised I didn’t know him and everything became a bit weird.

He walked with me all the way to the end of the road, chatting about the weather and about the local area, talking about where he’d lived in the past and where he’d like to live in the future. And then he said, “Listen, I’m going to have to cut off here, I’ve got to meet my friend. Sorry!” Bemused, but pleased that he was leaving me, I said goodbye. He asked my name, told me his, shook my hand. And then, in a step way too far over the line, he kissed my cheek.

Image by Forest & Kim Starr



This weekend's to-do list tells me I need to write a blog post, and I've been panicking a bit because I'm low on time and ideas... and then I came across this video. Three minutes of fascination from Robert Krulwich... and who can resist three minutes of Robert Krulwich?

A Mystery: Why Can't We Walk Straight? from NPR on Vimeo.


Reading Wrong

 One of the consequences of being absent from internet life for prolonged periods of time is that your Google Reader fills up to daunting levels. I have to admit that “catching up” this time has largely involved skim-reading my favourite blogs and deleting large chunks of material in my reader, but the whole process is made a little longer because I insist on clicking through to the original sites instead of reading the posts through the reader.

I feel like I’m not getting the full experience if I’m not reading a post on its site. Perhaps it’s because I know how much time and energy I’ve put into designing my own pages over the years, but it feels wrong to read someone’s post anywhere else. There’s something of the feel of a blog that Google Reader dilutes, something of the relationship with the author.

I wonder if this feeling comes from the same place as my scepticism about eBooks. While the idea of being able to carry all my favourite books around with me appeals a lot, I still find myself fearing the loss of paper books, the traditional experience of reading.

I have a strong inner cat: I dislike change and I like things to be just right. And between Google Reader and eBooks (which I agree are great inventions), something is definitely not right.

Image by David Scelfo


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