February 18, 2012
Finish reading A Room of One’s Own by Virginia Woolf
- Finish the draft of my short story in preparation for either the Mslexia 2012 Short Story Competition or the Bristol Prize
- Complete the first wristwarmer I’m knitting and begin the second one
- Complete sock 1/2 that I’m knitting
- Write the next post to continue the ‘Creativity for Agoraphobiac’ series
- Draft ideas for my novella
- Redraft Scene 2, Chapter 6 of Trace
My yoga practice Write letters to friends
- All of the above without exhausting myself
Update: It’s almost 5 pm and I’ve barely touched the list. Some of this will have to be moved to tomorrow.
Update 2: Getting there. I’ve decided to pick three more I know I can accomplish by the end of the day. Number 11 obviously isn’t one of them…
Update 3: So picking three was a bit adventurous. Moral of the story: be realistic about what you can achieve in one day. I’ll do more tomorrow.
January 25, 2012
It’s not my strongest virtue. At times I have a hidden store of endless patience on which I can meditate but for the time I don’t have access to this treasure trove, I pace, stubborn and indignant. Frustrated. Irritable.
Come on, I say. Hurry up.
Nothing makes me so impatient as having to wait for books. I order them sometimes on a whim, other times in bulk, to satisfy what Lewis Buzbee describes as ‘book lust’ in his memoirs The Yellow-Lighted Bookshop. Lust always demands satisfaction.
I could swallow my agoraphobia, dose myself on chill-pills and descend upon my local book store but my desire for books often extends beyond their catalogue. Then the paradox comes; I have the patience to search out the best possible deal.
(Note: I do love supporting bookstores but I long for the secondhand store that thrives on people as much as it does profit. Online secondhand stores that donate proceeds to charity are my preferred choice even though they lack that physical, human element. Support your local bookshop, corporate or independent. Imagine the world without them… Disgusting, isn’t it?)
So whilst I’m suspended between contemplating prices for days on end and waiting furiously for days on end for the books to arrive, I find myself thinking about my lack/abundance of patience.
It’s application extends beyond books by the way; I have as much patience for waiting for my root vegetables to sprout as I do waiting for the dentists to send me an appointment; both can take as much time as they need, though for different reasons.
I become devoid of my staying power when cravings are involved. Chocolate for instance, is an insistent addiction. It’s said that waiting five to ten minutes when experiencing a chocolate craving is enough to render it mute but after having waited almost two hours last night, I set upon a long forgotten packet of baking chocolate chips and satisfied myself that way. Not as cathartic as a small square of Lindt, but it put me at ease.
(Note: I didn’t eat all of the chips by the way, just a small handful. They were sickly).
My composure disintegrates when there’s a hole to be filled; knowledge (book lust), sweetness (chocolate), loneliness (friends, letters, phone calls). It’s the expectation, the anticipation of the fulfilment of those desires, all of them base desires, that drive me to twisting my fingers about themselves until their joints are so loose, they disconnect from one another with a gentle tug and then slide back into place.
My grit exists when I expect nothing. I’ve answered a few calls to writing submissions and I’m calmer about this than I am about anything else in my life. Part of it is confidence, part is knowing that there will always be someone better. As long as I have done my best at the time of submission, I have nothing to feel anxious about.
And if I fail to catch the attention of the judges this time, I can revise the works and do my best for the next set of submissions, the effort itself being better than my last attempt because I have learnt more, matured, and am comfortable with perseverance.
January 21, 2009
I’m far too young to be looking back at significant points in my life and deciding that they were a waste of time. I’m also too apathetic to care about whether or not casting off the relatively green wisdom of those moment will have complex implications at a later date.
Having spent the majority of life in my own head, happily oblivious to the outside world, you would have thought that I know what I’m doing with myself, but for whatever reason, I’m probably the most gormless individual on the planet. Which suits me. This frail ego suits me.
Taking the advice of others is bad news for the egocentric. If you’re going to be something, then be it. I’m not taking advice and hammering it into my being any longer. It results in me drawing elaborate time tables that have me awake at 8am reading things that should only be read over a bottle of Chilean Shiraz. It results in me turning my life into a series of multi-coloured boxes that map out how I should be spending my time, time that I know I can’t be bothered to waste on preparation and reading that I haven’t got the patience for. Taking another person’s advice to heart results in me being miserable.
There’s something to be said about being a chaotic, time-wasting, apathetic individual. When you need to get things done, you get them done in your own time using your own methods. It’s stressful, painful and irritating at points but then spending weeks on end before a deadline worrying continuously about how to spend my ample amounts of time is just as pointless as knowing and trying to do something about my habit of working by my own lax schedule. Just so that I can fit in? Follow the rules? Do what is expected of me? Really…
I’m not the writer who will sit and note down every detail of every surrounding that I encounter every day of my life. I’m internalized, blind, reclusive and pretty much socially incompetent. I’m not afraid to flip off the status quo. Quite frankly, I don’t care.
I don’t care that there’s a time break in that story or that you think a particular image doesn’t work; it works for me and the gap in time is supposed to be there so that I don’t have to spend six pages describing what happened between time A and time B. I do care however, about how I deliver the story.
The differences between opinion and advice are slight; the trick is knowing how to be selfish enough to pick out the stuff that gives you a damn good reason to alter something that isn’t working from the general nit-picked rubbish that tells you either
a) what you already know,
b) that your reader hasn’t bothered to read at all or
c) that you’re never going to please everyone.
Bottom line – you may as well go ahead and please yourself.
I intend to embrace my bad habits and no longer be ashamed of the fact that I’m a very internal person, only ever ‘noticing’ things around me when they are sucked in by the eternal vacuum of deaf experience, processed through a series of daydreams and nightmares, and then spat out when I sit down and say to myself ‘Something is bugging us. What?’
I was told a few years back that my attitude would never do me any favours, that I had to discipline myself in order to progress in life. I’ve been stagnating in that pool of advice for nearly five years.
You want to tell me that’s healthy?
December 6, 2008
So here it is. Saturday night: just me, my blog, the bass of Portishead trip-hopped and remixed. Me and another ebay purchase, keeping it as cheap as I can; under £5 for a nice silver,Indian style engraved, wide wrist cuff. I’d had my eye on it.
Anyways. The purposes of this rambling. Asides from slipping between people the past few days, it’s all relatively and beautifully unstable. Contradiction? Hardly; it’s nice to be clear about instability. But this isn’t the purpose of this rambling.
I am torn. I have sooooooo many books I want to read. Allow me to list…
1. The Journals of Sylvia Plath 1950-1962 ed. Karen V. Kukil (currently reading)
2. A Lover’s Discourse by Roland Barthes (currently reading)
3. Between Us: A Legacy of Lesbian Love Letters ed. Kay Turner (currently reading)
4. How to Write Love Letters by Michelle Lovric (currently reading)
5. Rumo & His Miraculous Adventures by Walter Moers
6. Labyrinth by Kate Mosse
7. The Book Thief by Markus Zusak
8. Helen of Troy by Margaret George
9. Sappho’s Leap by Erica Jong
10. Blind Willow, Sleeping Woman by Murakami
12. The Russian Concubine by Kate Furnivall
13. The Birth of Venus by Sarah Dunant
14. Geisha by Liza Dalby
15. Perfume by Patrick Suskind
16. Orlando by Virginia Woolf
That’s what I want to read, and am reading. These are the things I’m going to be reading amidst all of my desired reading:
1. Stigmata by Cixous
2. Voiles by Cixious & Derrida
3. A Philosophical Enquiry by Burke
4. The Sublime: A Reader ed. Ashfield & de Bolla
5. The Lifted Veil by George Eliot
6. Memoirs of the Blind by Derrida
7. The Birth of Tragedy by Nietzche
Amongst other tid-bits, that constitutes the named material I will be throwing myself into for the module next term. The unnamed stuff includes: material pertaining to literary practice and criticism, Aristotle’s Poetics, Longinus, Kant, a snappy little book by Phillip Shaw entitled The Sublime, and if I get time… Lyotard.
I have no issues with the material on the module’s reading list, the extraneous work that I wish to read alongside or even the books that I intend to read for pleasure.
Note: I also want to submerge myself in every inch of work I can that was written by, or is related to Sylvia Plath and Virginia Woolf, including essays and critique, and also the correspondences they had between various people. I’m trying desperately to get hold of The Letters of Virginia Woolf and Vita Sackville-West (not The Letters of Vita Sackville-West to Virginia Woolf), so if anyone can help me there… please tell me how and where…
The only problem with all of this is the lack of time I have. I’ve started getting up earlier (oh how it pains me) and have ditched the laptop for long periods of time in favour of reading. This is after I’ve done the chores and all. I could quite happily squeeeeeeze in 5-8 hours of reading a day, maybe more. But. And it’s a big one. My mind.
By now, readers have probably figured out (or have been told if you’re unfortunate enough to be a friend) that my good ‘ol mind is a bit doolally. To you anyway. (Urg, the Danish I ate is rolling around – damn you food, damn you…) So yes, to you it’s all a bit delicate and new, but if you get it over and out with, just say it… go on… I have several other people in my head.
It’s like having housemates, except they’re tidy.
Anyway. This in itself causes a problem because sometimes there’s a bit of disruption due to whatever (the details are too detailed) and then there’s the problem of memory in that (urg… why did I have to try that vanilla Danish…) I usually have the company of another part of me reading up alongside and it all gets mushed into discussion and hedonistic indulgence and quite frankly … I lose all memory of what I have previously read. This occurs to the point of where I read the same line over and over without realising it and then being completely bewildered by who and what I’m reading:
You see my dilemma. I have little time as it is on top of having a skull full of marbles doused in baby oil. And I could be reading now but I’m blogging.
I guess my real question is: Do I begin reading one of my ‘desired’ texts alongside what I’m already picking my way through, or finish the smaller titles so that I may focus on Plath’s Journals (which are huuuuuuuuuuuge) for the Christmas period?
Answers in a comment box.
Ms. Dexter, if you read this – do not mock my weakness for the cinnamon roll; it is a love that knows no bounds. Not even the death in my stomach. …
November 15, 2008
A lot of us assume that time is little more than a linear device by which we measure the endless waning of our lives. Time is something to be heeded, cherished and captured. Time allows us to look to the future and into the past; it defines the present.
Time. Judged by the Fates through the weaving of twine into a spindled network of our existence, slipping by, ticking down click by click, morphing into Arabic symbols by which we effortlessly divide up our days and struggle through them.
Remove the measuring devices.
Time becomes silent, moves out of your control and into a boundless whir of direction and distraction and confusion. Time vanishes altogether, leaving a note saying that it never existed to begin with and that this was all a big joke. And a paradox, you say to yourself, as you pick up that note from Time, who never existed. If it never existed, then how did it come to write this letter? More pressing – how can a paradox exist with the element of Time removed from the formula?
By the Time it took you to realise that the note had been left, by the Time you realised that the universal constant had left you, Time had disappeared. Not possible, you say, not possible. Time doesn’t disappear. Of course it doesn’t… Time is no longer relevant, not even the Time you are spending reading this.
Don’t worry, keep your watch. It’ll come in handy when judging what Time to catch the next train home so that you don’t miss your favourite series which will be on by the Time you sit down on the sofa.
It occurs to you as the synapses in your brain fire away haphazardly, that small something you read about when you wisely invested wasted Time in studying philosophy: just because it is shown to be fallible, it doesn’t label it useless.
The measurement of Time is many things: comforting, convenient, organised, insightful, erasing, frightening, nihilistic. Useful, predictable – wait. No.
You woke up this morning. A blur, a mind smothered by sleeping pills yet to wear off combined with too much Time invested in resting yourself. 11am, it must be, it is, you say. A heave and a sigh, so much Time lost, so much opportunity gone, you’re behind schedule, you won’t get it all done in Time now. You make a plan, cut the unnecessary from what Time you have left and begin.
But Time … doesn’t exist. And you have been deceived. 9.30am. Your world shudders at the Time anomaly, falls apart and leaves you, for the rest of the day, utterly Timeless. Ruined. Unable to fathom not the disappearance of Time, for it never really appeared, but your sudden realisation that the measurement by which you live your life collapsed and gave you too much Time to ever be able to cope with.
We count down Time. Sometimes we are betrayed by our own illusion.
August 10, 2007
It occurred to me recently, that my laziness isn’t actually laziness.
This isn’t a bid to justify not getting off my back-side either – on the contrary, me bearing a ‘relaxed’ attitude to nearly everything in life is smorgasbord of well-intended procrastination. Or sometimes, unwitting distraction.
Nothing is more enticing than a BBC news report about some national development when you should be doing something more important. Take your pick: Cornwall shark now believed to be Porbeagle, disputes over giving your newborn child a weird name which it will blatantly receive playground beatings for. There’s something for everyone. And then there’s YouTube…
When not distracted, I delay the inevitable.
I keep worrying that the little voice in my head will say ‘we’ll finish it later’ too many times in the end, thus tearing a hole in the universe. ‘Later’ can mean virtually any date post NOW. Which could mean later, forever.
Whilst I find the concept of leaving my chores and tasks to the void of ‘forever’ unnecessary, I can’t help but indulge in a small slice of ‘later’. I’ll post that letter, later. I’ll finish my registration. Later. I’ll watch some TV – later. Later gives us the hope of actually being able to achieve something when we’re ready to do so.
Whilst waiting for ‘later’ to arrive, I do things I know I’d never be able to do if I were obsessed with immediate results. The hard graft of the ‘you must do it now and work you fingers to the bone or until you collapse from a heart attack’ philosophy that my mother drums into me on a regular basis, is wasted on me.
I achieve my deadlines. Just later on.
I get some of my best ideas whilst procrastinating. Other people get theirs whilst on the toilet. During their 30 minute break from a 14 hour shift. Whilst probably suffering from stress-induced bowel movements.
Suddenly, being ‘economically laid-back’ is a much better predisposition to have. Especially when you can watch the rest of the world rush by whilst shrugging of a list of chores with ‘eh, I’ll do it later’…