Deciding to return to my book – a memoir-style life adventure arranged as an A-Z – is the easy bit. Finding the time to get to it is the challenge. The motivational coach giving the ‘Beginners Guide to Becoming an Author’ workshop encouraged us to get into the habit of writing 500 words a day. Surely we could find half an hour? That sounds reasonable but it often takes longer to write 500 words – depending on the space you’re in – and I don’t know about you, but sometimes that free half hour gets pushed back to the end of the day once all the must-dos have been accomplished, and the only thing that beckons is sleep.
I seem to have been chasing my tail for the last six weeks – Bertie and I have so much in common – trying to create space for some stillness where I can come back to neutral and just be. Once I get into that state, it’s easier to gain clarity and direction not to mention inspiration. I’m mulling over whether to convert my episodic A-Z into a more formal memoir or whether to flesh out the current structure and, as a friend suggested, top and tail the existing alphabetic entries to give the book more flow and continuity.
I tell myself that my new job will lose some of its newness and become a little easier and more manageable after the Easter break. I’ve had about 15 days there spread across two and a half days a week and have been head down from start to finish each time. No lunch breaks, faffing or chatting for me, a challenge in itself as I work in a very chatty office. I’ve been going a million miles an hour to get it all done – it’s called adrenalin.
In between the other bits of work and welcoming Airbnb guests, I spend a fair bit of time cleaning my house, making beds, re-potting plants, pruning enthusiastic shrubs that entwine themselves around my washing line, weeding, walking Bertie, washing Bertie (he does so love rolling in stinky stuff on the beach), cleaning my car (the worst job of all as it takes ages and is hard to do well – think smeary windows) and attending to all the other admin and household tasks we all have to contend with. Oh, and then there’s the socialising which has taken a back seat to everything else recently.
Anyway, today started well enough; I enjoyed a mini lie-in, something past eight instead of something past seven and had a cup of tea and a piece of toast with my guests. But Bertie had another agenda and was conducting a silent but messy protest at the later start and delayed walk. No wonder he was so quiet. He had chewed a hole in his mat and was pulling out the green filler. Never mind, the beach was glorious when we got there and Bertie had a ball in more ways than one.
Back home, I had a cuppa, watered the garden and put on a load of washing before sitting down to do a little outdoor meditation. Another one of those habits that we’re encouraged to fit into our day along with preparing healthy food, exercising, stretching, keeping up with social media and writing in our Gratitude Journal. Just ten minutes of this and that can change our life…. or make us late for work…
But here I was creating a bit of down time – at last. Peace and quiet. Stillness. Feet on the Ground. Deep Breath. No Agenda. No rushing. Soon, however, the dog child was up to more tricks. He was paddling around in the just-watered flower beds chewing sticks, growling and barking at something – perhaps a bird– and trying to jump onto my knee with muddy paws. I am breathing in, I am breathing out, I said silently in my head, ignoring him. Then I heard the dog flap open and close and realised he had gone inside. The next thing I heard was a scrabbling chasing kind of sound as he ran round in circles in my study spreading the love – and the mud.
He’s now worn himself out and is fast asleep on his bed – the one he didn’t chew up. And I have shown up at my desk. OK, so I will have to vacuum the floor but after that no more sabotaging the writing!
I’m currently reading a wonderful book called The Anchoress by Robyn Cadwaller, which is the story of an anchoress, a holy woman, in medieval England who chooses to ‘die’ to the material world and devote herself to prayer and to God. At the tender age of 17, she goes – with the door nailed shut – into a small stone hermitage attached to the village church. I’m not advocating total withdrawal from the world but writing is a discipline – for me anyway – that requires time and space away from other distractions. So I’ve booked onto a wonderful sounding memoir-writing workshop in Aireys Inlet, just down the road from my old haunt Anglesea, in April. What a treat to get away and be in the company of other writers with nothing but a blank sheet of paper and the opportunity to let the ideas flow. I think it was author Cate Kennedy who was quoted as saying: “Take the page and wreck it.” I intend to do just that.