Inspiration underload

There are days when words flow like wine, ideas are like buses and the air is pregnant with inspiration. In contrast, there are days when the very process of sentence construction feels like the literary equivalent of wading through quicksand, and brain activity is so non-existent a doctor might well switch off the monitor were it not for the fact of the walking and talking aspects of the person still being intact. On those latter days of which I speak, the air is no so much pregnant with inspiration as thick with the cloying unease of guilt, one of the less conducive emotions to successful writing endeavours.

Today, you may already have guessed, is one of those days, in part because I’ve once again lacked the discipline to work to office hours – having spent the morning running and procrastinating before a friend popped over for lunch and we both spent a considerable portion of the afternoon nattering and sunbathing. Though, in my defence, she is a very old friend whom I have not seen in a very long time – and in part because I’ve just not been feeling the inspiration in the way I did last week. You could argue that I’ve hardly given myself the chance to find inspiration in the first place, having spent less than two hours actually sitting at my desk today, and your argument would indeed be valid. But I would nonetheless pig-headedly argue that sometimes days like this are required in order to find inspiration again. And also that spending time with friends and in the sunshine is beneficial to one’s health, if not one’s bank account or future as a celebrated author.

I’m going to blame the heat, though as I type these words I am mentally flagellating myself for making so many excuses for something that, as my inner critic is telling me at this very moment, is really very simple: If you want to be a writer, the voice says, pull up a chair, switch on your laptop, switch off your phone, switch off the internet, sit down, and write. Write until your fingers go numb, until it has got dark outside and you hadn’t even noticed. Write until every last seed of an idea has tumbled from your brain onto the page and taken root. Write as if your life depended on it. Just write. Because isn’t that what you profess to want to do? I have to admit the voice has got a point. Perhaps I’ll be more productive once the heat wave has abated…

Thinking about it, maybe best that I don't live in a hot country after all...

Forever young

I’ve never been a fan of beauty features, especially those interminable ones that harp on endlessly about the latest ‘miracle’ cream which most of us would have to sell a kidney to stand even a chance of affording. These days even girls in their early twenties are slathering on anti-wrinkle serum every night in the hope they will forever retain their youthful complexions. Whatever happened to growing old gracefully?

Lord knows I’ve done enough damage to my skin over the years through sunbathing and smoking alone. Fortunately I’ve now firmly knocked the smoking on the head, but I’m still partial to the odd high factor cream-less lay about on the Common, despite the regular health warnings we’re now subjected to (have the people making the announcements actually looked out of the window lately? It would be a miracle if the sun’s rays were able to penetrate the thick canopy of cloud that’s hung over us for the past few months).

But whilst many of my peers won’t use anything but the best on their skin to try and redress the balance of years of excess, I’ve always balked at spending over £15 on any single beauty product (with the sole exception of Boots No.7 Protect and Perfect serum, which is scientifically PROVEN to work, don’t you know). My mum, who’s in her sixties, still looks fantastic for her age and claims never to have used anything but soap and water, Oil of Ulay (as it was ‘back in the day’ – sorry Mum!) and E45 on her skin. So I’m praying to the God of Genes to keep me in good nick without a monthly shipment of Crème de la Mer.

What I have begun to fall victim to now I’m advancing further into my thirties is the latest tranche of fad food supplements. Only last week a packet of Spirulina powder plopped onto my desk (soon to be followed by a packet of Wheatgrass powder). Promising to “combat various forms of malnutrition, boost the immune system, protect against cancer, support detoxification, increase overall energy level, fight infections, counter obesity and relieve stress,” this is one SERIOUS super food.

The downside (because of course there is always a downside with these things) is that it tastes AWFUL. This morning when I mixed up my first dose with some apple juice and banana it smelt so bad I could hardly bear to raise it to my lips and take a sip. But I persevered, because if it does even half of the things it claims to do I might very well live forever – which will likely cost a fortune in skin cream, even if it is the £15-a-pop kind…