Monthly Archives: May 2010

There’s things I think I want…

So it turns out that writing a novel is more difficult than I suspected. I had an inkling it would be difficult, but in a “for other people” sort of way. Let’s face it, there are some terrible novels out there. Surely writing a mediocre one should be achievable for anyone with time, a laptop and a basic grasp of the English language?

Not so much, as it turns out.

I had anticipated a bad first draft. Y’know, just churn it out and edit it later. I hadn’t realised just how excruciating that would be. Around NaNoWriMo, there’s always a bit of chat about turning off the “Internal Editor – that wee voice that tells you it’s not good enough”. In my case, it’s more of a Large Shouty Voice. Belonging to a horde of editors cringing and holding large red stop signs. I got just over a thousand words done before I decided that perhaps I don’t have a novel in me after all.

But then!

I was in the bath, contemplating my navel (literally) when I came up with a useful analogy – writing is like running. I wouldn’t expect a total beginner to step out the door and run a sub-50 10K. I’d tell them to start a running/walking combination, and slowly build up to running all the time. And when I’m running, I’m at my best when I’m consistent. Sure, I can run a half marathon without much significant training, but it’s slow, uncomfortable and a world away from my best. However, even during the worst run, my experience tells me to keep going and thing will improve. So it’s all about practice. And believing you can do it. Not just paying lip service to “you can do this”, but never doubting that you can do it in the first place.

Which is very interesting and all, but not exactly of much practical help. Until I came up with the stop watch idea. What I’ve been doing today is sitting myself down at the laptop, finding some blog posts and articles to keep me amused and then setting my watch and writing for ten minutes. Then I stop, read something, and then do it again. It’s the writing equivalent of “Run 1 minute/Walk 1 minute”. And it seems to be working. At the very least, there are words on the page.


I am, I feel

It’s easy to do nothing. To read a novel, watch the telly, wallow in the bath. It’s surprisingly hard to focus on your own thoughts and dreams and desires.

I feel as though I’m living a small, small life and I don’t know why. I feel like I’ve lost the essential me. I don’t know if I ever knew the essential me. It’s not like everything I am was wrapped up in work, and it’s my only source of validation. Now it seems that the busyness of work and life was distracting me from the fact that I’ve lost myself somewhere.

I have no Grand Passion. Not even a Small Passion. There’s nothing that makes me leap out of bed in the morning. Nothing that I’m obsessed with. Nothing that I can channel my energy into. I’m at a time in my life where I should feel like I have the world at my feet. I have money, youth, health, vitality and people around to support and adore me. I should be setting the world on fire, or at least my small part of it. Instead I spend my days waiting to go back to bed. And that’s just sad.

I need a passion. For something other than ceaseless introspection.

Show me a garden that’s bursting into life

I never wish for winter. I can’t avoid it, and I’ll enjoy those crisp clear days as best I can but nothing beats early summer time for me.

Like today, when it’s 21 degrees and sunny. And the town is packed out with people in their shirt sleeves, everybody smiling, the accordion-playing busker making the most he’s made all year, the sound of my flip flops slapping against my heels, the scent of sunscreen on a warm shoulder, the urge to bury my face in a huge slice of watermelon.

Every year it hits us, sometime in May, this window of continental life. Every year I get burnt, start dreaming of a BBQ summer and wind up shocked, disappointed and cold for the next three months. I’m not burnt (yet) and I’m not keeping my hopes up. And I’m not wishing for winter.

Take these broken wings and learn to fly*

Significant trauma today. Not, for once, related to work either. More in relation to dead bodies. Dead feathery bodies.

When we moved here in December 2007, the first thing to go was the ugly, ugly fireplace and surround. It was a charming combination of terracotta tiles on the hearth and shiny green tiles around the tackiest brass fireplace. So we demolished it and picked up a cute cast iron one in the January sales at B&Q. Many, MANY, sagas later we have a slate hearth and it’s all ready for the chimney to be swept and the surround to be fixed in.

You can see what’s coming, can’t you? I phoned a chimney sweep who said he’d come today, at 2pm. He’d sweep the chimney and have a look at the surround to see if he could fit it for us. I moved the surround out the way (dropped it on the coffee table in the process, shhh!) and started pulling out the newspaper and towels that we’d stuffed up there approximately a billion years ago. I’d pulled out the last towel, when I noticed something else. Something grey and fluffy (for a second, it looked like grey hair. For a nanosecond, I thought there was a human head in the chimney), I went to remove the grey fluffy thing, when I saw it had feet. Little pointy birdy feet. I’m ashamed to say this is where my investigative reporting talents deserted me and I fled the scene.

*Pause while I go to answer the door to the heroic chimney sweep chap*

Heh. There are some advantages to being a girl. The main one being that you can answer the door to a chimney sweep by saying “Hi! Come in! How are you with dead birds? CostheresadeadbirdinthechimneyIthinkatleastIsawitsfeetandthenranaway” and they just roll their eyes in a “Women! Tsk!” kind of way and kindly remove the dead bird whilst you make them a cup of tea. He was trying to show me it though and telling me how it was “Quite dry. Probably been there for a year or so.”

Ick. Perhaps this is the universe’s way of shaming me into completing DIY projects in a more timely fashion?

*Although the title comes from “Blackbird” by The Beatles, the bird in question was a pigeon.

Radio 4 is static…

I realise that all (three) of you will have been waiting with bated breath for the outcome of last weeks hearing. Unfortunately, it was rescheduled as someone couldn’t make it. Although, when I say “rescheduled” what I mean is “cancelled three hours before it was supposed to take place with no current update on when it will happen”. Joy.

After my last post I received a scary letter regarding the hearing, including a lovely little dossier which was the “management’s case”. All of which was accurate, but upsetting, particularly given that I owned up to everything – it feels a little like they’re saying “We think you did this, and here’s the proof”, while my response is “Yes I did, and you wouldn’t know if I hadn’t told you about it”. So that sent me into a little hand-wringing, floor-pacing tailspin for around 48 hours, during which I stared at the election coverage, glassy-eyed.

A very pleasant bike-riding, gym-going, gardening and West Wing Watching weekend with Le Homme got my head back on straight. We had a long-planned holiday in Wales with some friends last week, and I got up on Monday morning feeling confident that I could attend the hearing, secure my job and head off on holiday before coming back to work.

Then came the phone call saying the meeting was to be rescheduled and we headed off to Wales anyway. The holiday was nice enough, though I shall be more careful in future about whom I choose to share a holiday cottage with. I couldn’t really “let go” and enjoy it enough, particularly as there was little to no phone coverage and I couldn’t access my blog reader. Or find out who was Prime Minister. I couldn’t seem to enjoy feeling disconnected, partly I think because I’ve used the Internet and radio as my primary means of feeling connected and thereby somehow “vital” to the outside world.

So now I’m back to playing the waiting game – desperate to get things sorted but terrified of the outcome. I’ve swung back the other way and now feel my position has become untenable and can’t forsee actually returning to work successfully. Which makes it difficult to argue my case. I can only hope I’ll have my “sorted” head back on when the damn meeting is actually called.

There Goes The Fear

Had a lovely weekend with some very good friends. They were both charming and sympathetic about my current situation and it was a relief to discuss it, and then joyously dismiss it as we pootled around Perthshire in the most geographically diverse pub crawl ever. If ever there was a way of showing that life goes on, and that my desire to become a hermit is counter-intuitive, this was it.

As the boys bonded over football gossip, my gorgeous friend C and I had a productive time dissecting my latest trauma. I confessed one of my biggest worries was going back to work and having colleagues ignore me (in a social context, rather than a professional one). C made me feel much better by asking a) how many of these colleagues did I actually want to see socially?, b) how many of those that I do like had already been in touch? , and c) even if none of them spoke to me, I still had a network of other actual friends, who I like for themselves rather than by enforced circumstance.

All of which is incredibly obvious and simple but which I needed to hear from someone else, I think.

Yesterday I had phone call from our departmental head who was just so nice. He was telling me that my Disciplinary Hearing is scheduled for Monday. Which is good because then this nightmare will be over, one way or t’other. Bad, because Le Homme and I are supposed to be in a holiday cottage in Wales from Saturday onwards. Nothing insurmountable though and once the hearing is over, I am getting in the car and going, regardless of the outcome.

I don’t actually think I’ll be fired, the guy who phoned sounded like he thought the whole thing had gotten a little out of hand, and he’s on the panel so that’s reassuring. I also can’t really be arsed going back at this point and if I had the cash I’d be bailing out. Sod’s law being what it is, I’ll have to go back!

In the meantime, I’m still just pottering around, doing not a lot and reading a lot of shite books. I wish I had used this time more “constructively” and gotten really fit or written my novel or learned how to use the SLR camera properly or ANYTHING really. I feel I have nothing to show for this time other than a few blog posts and a large stack of books. Still, maybe that’s what I needed, and six weeks isn’t much time in the grand scheme of things.