2.11a.m


Its 2am. Later

But what do I care – when did I ever care about Time, Constraints, Schedules, Must-be-there’s, Have-tos, – but I am thrilled its 2am – gone – and I am finally WRITING again.

Because I DID it you know?

I finished the NaNoWriMo with an almighty final push that nowhere near equals giving birth – sorry ladies – and actually finished around this same time on the final deadline date of 30th November. And then I slept at last….and slept…and slept.

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The following day I had booked into a Writers Retreat on the island and intended to start editing this pile of sludge I had manifested from my weary mind. No way. I cancelled that and all other plans the entire weekend, and slept.

I didn’t write a thing. I didnt even look at it. I couldn’t .

It was akin to some mad passionate fling you may have, all obsessive, all consuming and yet finally, spent and weary you realise you cannot continue in this mad unrelenting vein!

November has been a blur. Starting NaNo holed up at my friends where he kindly proffered much tea and snacks, if not much sympathy! – I then retreated to my island haven and spent the final 19 days of the month completely immersed in my plotting, my weaving, my tapestry.  I lived it, ate it, breathed it. Even the poor dog was tired of me hunched over my laptop day and night only pausing to finally walk her and myself, or to reluctantly throw some food together. It was sheer total indulgence but it worked! Some days I wrote nothing – but still mused and thought lots, planning in my mind as I walked over the fields and in the woods near the cottage. Each day I updated both Instagram and the NaNo planner online for word count and running total, sometimes checking in with other Southampton writers, even joining in the odd sprint prompted by the teams mentor or on NaNo Twitter feed. Those sprints kinda saved me!!

Everyday too my outer world slipped by unnoticed. Bills and post piled up as did dirty cups from continual caffiene fixes, but still I wrote on. I would break up the day as it headed into night – I think, who knew? – by lighting a real fire in the grate and using it as futher inspiration as I gazed deep into its flickering life, and traced the splintered sparks fizzling into the chimney with sporadic outbursts. Who knew how many hours passed by. Who cared.

top view photo of ceramic mugs filled with coffees

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Years and years I had dreamt of  having this luxury. I had seen myself, invariably alone, in my rose adorned cottage by the sea. Writing.

architecture bungalow canal cottage

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If you can manifest your total dream – your Heart’s Calling – into reality then I have done so. Oh, it was not at all simple. Yet it always felt inevitable, if not imminent.  It took years.

Years of study, travel, heartache, family, relationships, bringing up children mostly alone, studying again, teaching, travelling, constantly moving but always, always that one constant throughout it all. My Writing.

Cliched. My Love. My Passion.

book book pages browse education

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Yes I make a living at it too. I teach writing skills, I persuade others to love Literature with the same zealous abandonment I always have, I even entice some over to the joys of poetry. I help them prepare for and pass exams. Sit through endless group and 1:1 tutorials; I help novice teachers find their feet, gain their certs and head off into the wide blue yonder of modern teaching. I loiter on Skype, and Webex, and Zoom trawling through online lessons but always conscious of my main purpose behind it all.

MY Writing.

My dream, long held, lovingly nurtured, and often rescued from the depths, dusted off and resurrected to its original pedestal.  To be away at last, isolated, indulgent, wake up when I want, write for as long and as late – or early – as I want. No demanding kids – although I adore you all and do not regret a minute – no more demanding husband 🙂 urging me to turn out the light, to stop rustling papers, to put down the book. No noisy street below or bellowing neighbours each side. No school runs, no pick ups, no teacher meetings or report days, no football matches to attend, ballet to watch, knees to patch up, tears to dry, faces to scrub.

No nothing . A nothingness. Which sounds a little sad but that is Nostalgia. I have travelled his beguiling path before and where does it take me? straight back to the Present. The Here and Now. Where I am.

The time I always longed for while I was still ostensibly living my life has somehow finally arrived. The coast. The Cottage. The Roses. The Writer.

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Let’s see if I can do her justice somehow at last.

I owe it to her

I owe it to Myself.

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Go Litel Bok….


Well, its been well over a month since I wrote a thing!

Not a syllable. Nunca. De Nada.

 

After a madly prolific period in which I hardly slept and wrote till dawn mostdays I then fell into a kind of frozen limbo – not a good place to be when your anxietycan often scourge at your inner core as much as your hidden mind.

Something was triggered, and so began the endless, self imposed isolation; the enthusiastically made yet inevitably cancelled appointments; the languid routine of a ”writer’s day” with bouts of research and thinking interspersed with coffees, punctuated with lack lustre snacks yet not a word of print adorned the empty page.

On April the 10th I launched this.

The Cuckoo in Their Nest

Written 15 years ago, when I was living in a similar remote abode, and writing and home replaced nights out and social whirls – I could never decide! – and it was from a rather dark but rawly truthful place.  Not that much of my writing is not.

Coveted for years, I have always been reluctant to release my etchings on an unsuspecting, and perhaps unconcerned world. It always felt so personal and so private, like exposing my Soul to an undeserving – worse, possibly a non understanding and judgemental – audience!

Well, now it has finally been done.

Entrails and all.

 

The initial euphoria as I hovered above the self publishing key and the ensuing plethora of congratulations and sharp intakes of breath, encouraging reviews – even some tears – from close friends and family soon became tinged with a slight regret. Followed hot on its heels by overwhelming Anxiety.

I was, am, suddenly that 8 year old me again.

Afraid, insecure, grabbing at any attention freely given, lonely, isolated, even at such an early age reading and writing became my salve. Long periods of time would be spent alone in my room. Long silences. Who knew then that this was the beginning of the Anxiety that would then plague my entire Life. No labels back then.

girl in white and blue dress reading books while sitting on lawn

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The chatty, lively former me still wore her expected Mask. Still attempted to meet Their Expectations. Yet more and more she cared less and less. And yet cared too much.

The last few weeks have been ones of deep reflection with many uncalled flashbacks.

The book has clearly shifted the Past and unsettled its dormancy. Clouds of memory whisked up and uneasily resettling around me in the Present.

Yet it has been necessary at this point to finally release who I really was.

Who I really am.

I await some recriminations and maybe some Hurt. I carry Hurt within me still but it is not the work of a Victim. Just the truth of a child who clearly still dwells within me.

 

So, in the words of Chaucer –

“Go litel bok, go, litel myn tragedye,”

― Geoffrey ChaucerTroilus and Criseyde

 

and do what you will.

willow that grow along the river

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Associative Memory Syndrome


Is that a real term? label? condition?

Or did I just coin it myself at almost 4a.m on a frozen, snow-blasted morning –  somewhere betwixt the witching hour and dawn?

I just went to sup some water – too cold to brave downstairs in the scullery as it would have been back in the Victorian hey day of this cottage – brrrr! – and my modern day scullery has heating! I found myself cupping my hands under the cold water tap in the bathroom.

Suddenly, I am back in the ’70’s – with the senior sister’s skirts swishing ominously past as my playmates and I spend that little bit too long at the cute little washbasins after using the toilets at break.

“Class!” she barks. “Now!”

We scuttle by, hastily rolling down shirt sleeves and surreptiously avoiding her keen eye.

Except me.

I never avoided her eye.  As my paternal grandmother often said in her dulcet Irish brogue – ” You’re a bold, bold girl – so you are!”

Yet in that formidable senior sister, who most cowered and hid from, I saw something far softer.  I never forgot her. As a simple trip to the bathroom to drink from my hands proves.

She inspired me.

She took me seriously. In a home where my passion for writing was highly ignored and even scoffed at, my random musings dismissed by my mother as mere scribblings of a half wit, to go to the school with such offerings and have them applauded and praised was pure balm.

Somehow, too, with the Mother Petronella’s sanctimonious blessing they seemed to matter more to The Adoptive Mother too.

So is associative memory syndrome real? Our brain never ceases to amaze me – its breadth, depth and capacity to harbour such long-anchored moments, to glimpse in an instant that scuffed corridor of Our Lady & St. Hughes, to audibly recognise Mother Petronella’s fearful swishing approach!

 

 

Yet without AMS where would we be as writers?

Nostalgia is my main tool, and adds poignancy to memory – even if, as suspected, memory is somewhat rose-tinged, polly-fillered over the cracks of Time, and loosened of its grip in that very present back then.

Sound, Touch, Smell, Taste, Sight – eternal olfactories – unending Muses.

 

 

My Life Encapsulated (circa the noughties!) 2214:You discover my dusty old hard drive in an antique shop – Buyer Beware!


Ebb & Flow of Time

Ebb & Flow of Time

Dear Stranger/purveyor and purchaser of useless artefacts

Please sort the wheat from the chaff but do not neglect to salvage any hidden jewel you may haplessly discover in Aladdin’s outdated cave! While I won’t explore your reasons in what is surely now an even more multi- techno infested era for requiring the hard drives of the hard lives of the old days – I nonetheless urge you to enjoy your treasure….

Amongst the plethora of incessant ramblings,half abandoned novels, layers of dark poetry and frissons of humourous riddles, I do hope you take time to delve deeper still – wherein you may discover …A Life.

A life truly lived.

Raucous parties with friends and salacious siblings

Joyful events of half forgotten days that lie dormant in my memory just as they have in this dusty domain all these years

Gleaming freshfaced cherubs whose images change month by month, year by year recorded for posterity when memory would oft suffice better , the angst of adolescence cringingly portrayed and mercilessly captured – until the groomed and final product – adults! –  emerge – or perhaps the latter is on my updated hard drive.

I hope you can allocate some time to this life half remembered – I rarely did.

And now I know I sit in deep regret of that.

But as I write on this date in 2014 and tuck this pointless missive into the box with the now defunct hard drive – its shiny new, all singing, all dancing counterpart placed mockingly in its old residence – I hope you will tread softly.

For you tread back through the remnants of my Past – the deep dark undergrowth of abandoned thoughts,people,lives and places that in their moment were real, alive, tangible to me…. And should you choose to delete, edit, repair please spare the reaper to some extent.

Had I but known the tools myself to Photoshop, edit and adapt a life at the correct given points perhaps the heartaches and hurt could have been avoided. Yet the healing and lessons learned along that pathway truly enhanced who I  – and they- became.

Our lives are truly in your hands…

Oh and although I will be long deleted from this life I carved out 200 years from now do seek me out in some isolated burial ground and drop by – perhaps I can even be the historical research for your own new creative pennings –  the incomparable Past of my Now will certainly conflict with the hard drive of your present!

If only we had the foresight to apply hindsight to the present….