Admission

It’s been a while. In truth I’ve been tongue-tied, unable to pull the right words from the melting pot of my mind. Not even sure what to say, even if I could work out how to say it. So there you have it. Welcome to my mind.

How easy it is to blame things. Work being busy. Not sleeping well. Time just flying by. Excuses trip so easily off the tongue – far easier than admitting reality. But when we run out of excuses reality always bites. Why don’t we learn? You’d think we would. Or maybe not.

So anyway, time has flown, excuses have multiplied at speed like bacteria in a petri dish. And here we are. Here I am. Facing my reality. Admitting it. Holding a red rag up to it and waiting for it to charge. Come on, I’m ready.

Nothing is wrong. Things have changed, situations shifting like the sands of time on which we are so shakily standing. But nothing is wrong.

Earlier, I meditated. Took some time to step away from the to do lists, to quell the panic rising up inside. I couldn’t quite believe how well it worked. It’s always nice, of course, to close your eyes and find that space, to realise all that really matters is the breath, in, out. The here and the now is all there is.

But this time something happened, not at first, but after. A flash of inspiration, a hint at the solution to a problem I’ve been grappling with for weeks. I wrote it down. In ink. For permanence.

I think I will meditate again tomorrow.

buddha-meditation-image-quote-picture

 

Advertisements

Riding the Hamster Wheel

Quote

After the success of my sitcom writing course (writing a 15 minute script and having it acted out by a Game of Thrones actress does count as success, right?) with the City Academy I have once again grasped the nettle and signed up for a 7 week summer course in crime writing, this time with the City Lit. This will run concurrently with the screenplay idea I’m working on with my amazing writing mentor, so I’ll have lots to keep me busy!

You see, what I’m coming to realise is that being busy is always best – or at least that’s the case with people like me, who are creatively minded and enthusiastic but tend towards laziness and phases of paranoid inactivity. Deadlines are key to productivity, and without concrete plans (submit essay by x, write plot outline by y) it’s all too easy to drift out with the tide, never to return to shore. So whilst I will quite often bitch and moan about not having enough hours in the day, I know deep down without these goals and targets I would lack the momentum to achieve anything at all.

Discipline, however, is a different beast entirely, and one that’s far more difficult to tame. You can set all the goals and targets that you like, but if you don’t ‘show up’ regularly, as a good friend recently said to me, the game is lost. And the fact remains that whilst I’m full of good intentions and prone to bursts of fervour, showing up regularly is still something I struggle with. That, and the idea that you don’t have to be in the ‘right’ mood to ‘write,’ nor even must you know where the writing will take you. You just have to sit down and do it. No but-I-have-to-hang-out-the-washing-then-go-to-the-gym-and-make-dinner excuses.

And on that note, I’m just off to the gym and to make dinner before I sit down with my laptop for the evening…..

image

Strengthening Resolve / Finding Wings

It’s been five months since the end of my ‘write every day of 2013’ challenge and I can feel myself drifting. The desire to write – to be a ‘writer’ – has never been stronger, but when I do sit down to write it’s piecemeal, and my attention dots around from short story to novel to sitcom script (this latest addition being the result of my signing up for an eight week sitcom class with the City Academy) like a bee collecting nectar in a flower field. It seems I’ve lost my focus, or my confidence, or both.

I miss the halcyon days of being involved in writers’ groups, both online and in the ‘real’ world. At their best, they offered valuable critique, support and – above all else – comfort that other people were in a similar situation and going through the same painstaking process. Just knowing that others in the group were feverishly beavering away at their works-in-progress was enough to encourage me to do the same, and my output in the early years of my involvement in such groups was impressive.

At their worst, however, I found writing groups to be time-wasting (when you’ve spent two hours critiquing someone else’s work only to find they don’t have the common decency to critique yours in return it makes you wonder whether you should have spent the two hours working on your own writing instead), demoralising (for the same reason) and, well, downright sad (one woman started coming to every meeting with a clutch of business cards and invites to her latest ‘launch’ event – despite the fact she had self-published her book because no publisher in their right mind would print her terrible, clunky prose. I knew when I began to dread hearing her read her latest excerpt that it was time to leave that particular group for good, although I did so with a heavy heart).

My one remaining solace is being a member of a private writers’ group on Facebook, where many of my ‘old’ online writing buddies have also migrated. A lot of them are published now, and I have nothing but admiration for them. I also know the reason they are published and I am not comes down to one primary factor: Resolve. They have not allowed pithy excuses like having too little time to write (my personal favourite) to stop them from doing what runs through their blood. No. They have made the time to turn their works-in-progress into works-in-print, and in doing so have set their creative spirits free to soar into the literary galaxy and beyond.

At this juncture I am therefore teetering on the precipice, knowing in my heart I cannot bear to let another year of writing promise slip through my fingers like the sands of time. And the obvious fact that’s been staring me in the face is only now making itself plainly and uncompromisingly clear: The ONLY way to overcome procrastination, writer’s block and crippling self-doubt is to WRITE: EVERY. SINGLE. DAY. Not necessarily on my blog but somewhere, and for a minimum of an hour each day. Only then will I earn my wings to fly. And, make no mistake, fly is what I absolutely intend to do.

Image

Life half full

It is nearly half past twelve on ‘Writing Monday,’ and thus far I have achieved the following: A five kilometre run around Clapham Common (to offset the weekend’s beer and chocolate indulgence in Bruges); the weekly shop in Sainsbury’s; a clothes wash; a top-to-toe clean of the entire flat AND the preparation of a slow cooker gastronomic delight (lamb stew, since you’re asking) for two friends who are coming for dinner tonight. I have also, it would seem, entered into a stand-off with a lederhosen manufacturer in Germany (not a sentence I ever thought I’d write), as the product I returned last week via airmail (due to their mistake in sending the wrong size, I might add) has thus far failed to arrive, meaning that they are now withholding the replacement (in my correct size) until it does. This is a particular problem as said item was ordered for my impending birthday party, which makes swift resolution of the issue significantly more pressing. Given my recent track record with Royal Mail (two of five letters sent by my mum never having arrived), I know which side my money would be on if it wasn’t for the fact I’m already exorbitantly out of pocket from making the purchase in the first place. I could not be kicking myself more for not sending the damn thing recorded, but since they offered me free coloured contact lenses instead of agreeing to pay the return postage cost and the postage was ten pounds via regular air mail and twenty via recorded, I opted for the former – evidently a big (and costly) mistake.

Anyway, I digress. The point I’m trying to make – more to myself than to anyone else – is that it’s nearly half way through Writing Monday and, whilst the level of productivity today has seen is certainly impressive, not one bit of it has had the slightest thing to do with writing. If I was a professional runner, chef or cleaner the past few hours would at least have been lucrative. As it is, I am none of these things. No, for one day each week I am a freelance writer – a freelance writer who is very good at doing anything except the thing she claims to love. In the past ten minutes I have even abandoned my computer again to go into the roof and fix the window so the wind no longer whistles through it (though as that was, in fact, something that needed doing in order to avoid losing my concentration whilst writing that’s technically allowed, no?). To surmise, today I’m feeling mostly useless and frustrated at my own inadequacy. I may have managed to post a blog for every day of the year so far, but in terms of cold, hard cash I’ve hardly covered the cost of the lederhosen dispute with my writing, let alone made enough to pay myself a wage for Writing Monday. Still, I’m writing now, aren’t I? Even if it is only today’s blog? And anyway, we writers write for the love of our trade rather than out of any serious belief we’ll ever earn a crust from it….don’t we?

Right, enough with the negativity and introspection. All is not lost. I’ve just remembered this picture I took in Bruges yesterday and it’s buoyed me considerably. Half the writing day may have been wasted but it was wasted doing necessary things. And now there’s still a glorious half day remaining to make up for lost time. The only question now is what to write about…

One last excuse

I’ll admit (and yes, I know I’m using the word ‘I’ – argh) that things have gone rather awry this past few days where posting on this blog’s been concerned. In large part this has been due to poor advance planning of the bank holiday weekend, two consecutive afternoon rooftop parties (get me with my busy social life) on Saturday and Sunday having left virtually no time for writing. However, it’s fair to say I also experienced some not insignificant technical issues (wifi being down, computers crashing etc) that meant having to upload to the blog via smartphone – which apparently didn’t work very well.

So anyway, we are where we are, no point crying over spilt milk etc. The main fact is I did still find a way to post, even if the posts themselves were substandard in quality and not always accompanied by pictures. As recompense I’d planned to wow you with a stunning comeback blog today, but time has run away with me yet again, and as I’m now about to run out of the door to tonight’s Bookslam (featuring the great Caitlin Moran and Hadley Freeman, no less) this somewhat cobbled together piss-poor excuse for a blog post will once again have to do.

I’m better than this. And I’m sorry.

Normal service will resume tomorrow.

No more excuses.

This was where I was on Saturday afternoon when I should have been writing. You’ve got to admit it’s appealing…

Putting theory into practice

Tonight I unintentionally put Professor Daniel Gilbert’s theory (which I mentioned in yesterday’s Bea article about happiness) into practice. Having woken up with a sore throat I spent the whole day feeling increasingly less keen to go to my first running club session after work. As the day progressed I thought of every excuse under the sun to not have to go. The front runner (if you’ll excuse the pun) was the fact I felt worse after running 3k at the gym last night, so running 8k outside would almost certainly make me more ill. Fortunately my sensible Twitter followers coerced me by citing the ‘below the neck’ rule, and as my lurgy was most definitely above the neck I decided I had run out of excuses and would give the run a try (I can’t deny the scone and slice of cake consumed at a colleague’s leaving do in the afternoon was also a contributing factor to my need to exercise).

I digress. So how did I put Professor Gilbert’s theory into practice, exactly? Well, I did the run, and at the end of it I thought how much I had enjoyed it and how glad I was to have done it. I even wondered why I’d made such a big deal of it and spent so long trying to talk myself out of going. What Professor Gilbert would no doubt say about this is that when imagining the run – in what was then my present – I was feeling unwell, and was only able to imagine doing the run whilst feeling unwell, which led to me overestimating how bad I would feel whilst actually doing it. As it turned out I felt much better by the time I started the run anyway, and so when the run became my present I was able to enjoy it far more than I had imagined.

Realising this has been a revelation. I’m actually rather stunned!

By the way, in case you’re wondering, I’m thinking of amending the ‘past post’ rule of this blog so that I occasionally post something I’ve written before, but it doesn’t have to be every week. I’m delighted to say I’m enjoying writing something new every day so much I’m finding I don’t want to post old pieces of work (most of which I’m now viewing with a more critical eye anyway and deciding they’re not up to scratch for publication).

Tomorrow’s the last day of January – one month done and still going strong! Who says New Year’s Resolutions are hard to keep?

Image

Here’s the image that comes to mind when I think about things that weren’t as bad as I imagined. I’d built myself up into a frenzy of worry when I did my first triathlon in 2009, but on the day of the event (as you can see in this pic) I quite enjoyed it! Bar the swimming. I bloody hated that part.