Monthly Archives: January 2014

Book as baby

When I was in labour with my first daughter, everything progressed quite quickly. And then it all sort of stopped. Looking back, and with the hindsight of a second pretty quick labour and delivery, I know what happened the first time around: I got scared. My anxious and ever-cogitating mind overrode my body, which pretty much ‘knew’ what it was doing, and seized everything up. Eighteen hours later, the baby was dragged out of me. She didn’t cry, because she wasn’t breathing.

In the end all was well, but there was an anxious wait. Of course, if the umbilical cord had been left attached it would have been less so, because the baby would have still been receiving an oxygenated blood supply (at least that’s how I think it works). But in these days of quick, quick, quick, the cord is severed in short order. It left me traumatised. It definitely affected the baby too.

As I stall deep into the second draft of my first ‘book’, I realise that what has stopped the motor running is, once again, fear. Fear of the material, of not being good enough, of letting people down, of living with pain to deliver a book that won’t breathe. What I must remember is that this is labour and there’s no going back. There are no guarantees in going forward either, bringing anything into the world is always a risky business.

I know this all might sound a touch dramatic. It’s not meant to read that way. I can only speak as I find, and that’s how it is, right now. All I really know is: there’s no going back.

Manhattan Skyline by E. P.

Manhattan Skyline by E. P.

How do you fit your writing in with the rest of your life?

Not me, but nearly.

AUTHOR ALLSORTS

OK, I have three theories for how you fit writing in with the rest of your life…

  1. Have no ‘rest of your life’

_hermit

2. Magic

magic-wand

3. Juggling

juggling-woman

                                              

Since I have 1 husband, 2 kids, 2 kittens, parents, family, work commitments, friends, a need to watch Sherlock and Dr Who regularly, a love of a good cup of latte ( my version of a life) and also absolutely no wizarding skills to speak of,   I have selected to go for option number three to fit writing into the rest of my life. I have chosen to juggle.

(Note: The latte does tend to help keep one awake for said juggling but also does tend to spill.)

Ever since I started writing, with the intention of getting my work published, it has constantly been a struggle to ‘fit in’ my writing time.   I started writing seriously when my kids were babies…

View original post 736 more words

Going retro

I think our generation… by which I mean…

Ah. Now you see – lately, when I come to think, or write something, I can get all tied up in knots because I now insist on categorising the concept in quite tight terms before I move into rant or pondering mode. Teaching has taught me that it is no good whatsoever assuming everybody knows what I am on about, I have to first check understanding, and clarify meaning.

Today, in class, we were talking about Power. I had to clarify that I was talking about power in a personal sense, rather than power in a professional or status sense, although there is that power too. We then moved on, all starting from the same page, hopefully… This evening I realised I had not written A Thing all week. This is a disaster on many levels, but you’ll be glad to hear I won’t define and categorise the substrates now; after all you may only have landed here by accident, expecting nice retro images or something, rather than a rather abstract meander about the Wittgenstein proposition that:

Actually, I don’t believe it, and, in the end, neither did Wittgenstein. There are many more fundamental ways to communicate than through words because, yes, they do limit us, it’s just that, just as we get caught up in thoughts, so we get caught up in words – expressing ourselves through language. We forget that there are other ways to express our feelings and intentions – our heart, soul too, if you believe in one.

This post was to talk all about how my generation has had a lot of techno gizmo work fast fast fast stuff to get on top of in our lifetimes, and my peers, like me feel that we may have reached a tipping point in our heads… that point where we say, you know, perhaps I don’t have to stay on top of all this now. Perhaps I can’t keep on top of it all now. Perhaps… there’s more to life than being able to interface with all kinds of technology in ever-efficient ways. Maybe, maybe it would be better for our wellbeing to just let some of it go.

So what if I can’t manage my Twitter timeline or feed properly. Heck, I don’t even know the difference between the two terms, or if there is one. And, the truth is, I don’t think I care. Not that much.

Maybe it really is time to go retro, just a little, at least at weekends, and let the world whizz by, if it wants.

Whereof one cannot speak, thereof one must be silent – Wittgenstein

January Sales

I am too old to be trying on rubbish in the sales these days. Actually, I am too old to try on all-year round and I am a Crappy Shopper. When I shop these days, I just get distracted. I look at fabrics and listen to the music, and in some of the charity shops I eavesdrop on the old ladies who can give good value, sometimes comic.

I found myself in one such shop the day after New Year’s Day and it was heaving, with old ladies, who seemed like the whole Christmas period had starved them of human contact… I pretended to be looking at things, when actually I was completely listening to two of them having a conversation, remarkable in both its length and level of unhappiness. I think the one who said she was in her eighties broke down in tears for a brief period. It seemed to centre on the fact that she was the carer for her brother, and he just didn’t understand that she herself was not up to that much. The brother was painted as a bit of a thoughtless, or selfish, dictator, but that might just have been her low mood speaking. Far be it from me to start throwing around sexist accusations, although I confess the thought did cross my mind. Anyway, after the hankies all round moment, her friend said they should go for a cup of tea, but the woman said she’d already done that. She’d had a teacake, untoasted. She said she prefers them that way.

Old age isn’t for cissies, they say. They ain’t wrong.

I left the shop awash with the sadness of others, and probably as a direct result, made an ill-advised sales purchase elsewhere. I didn’t need to try it on either, other than hang it off my shoulder.

My other excuse for the purchase other than as an antidote to all melancholia, mine and others, is that I want to be a Cowboy. You will see me coming a mile off now.

cowboys

I’ve debated the term ‘old ladies’ in my head for this blog. We don’t want to be called ladies, now do we? We are women. You can’t say old women though, can you? And if you can’t, why not? I wonder, is it something to do with men talking about their ‘old woman’…

Voices

If you venture on to Twitter you hear a lot of them, so, I suppose the platform is aptly named.

Like so many of these social media things, I use Twitter, but not really properly – I haven’t really worked the nuances (if there are any) out. As a result I end up reading a load of cant and opinions that confuse the hell out me. My problem is not inattention, but attention. I give too much attention to everything. I like to try to understand as much as can. I therefore get caught up. And worse, I spend too much time.

Since New Year’s Eve, on and off, I’ve been caught up in a feminist Twitterstorm that involves names you might have heard of, and names you might not have. In honesty, I had not heard any of them before at all. I say I got caught up, but really I mean I have been considering the issues raised, the different points of view, the feelings, the context, the ideologies and the history. At length. I have had to get up to speed with terms such as intersectionality, overing, shifting and check your privilege. Maybe it’s my own fault for not paying attention before, but having tried to catch up now, a number of things strike me…

But first I have to get rid of the voices: strident, regretful, aggressive, supplicant, strong, abusive, stirring, rational, questioning, trolling, matter-of-fact, judgmental, ideological and so on and on. All these people, crowding the platform with 140 characters, to basically, have an extended verbal punch-up.

Most of these voices are women. Most identify themselves as feminist. It’s not been an edifying spectacle. In fact, to a bystander hoping to understand the various agendas and issues, it’s been as brutal as a bare-knuckle boxing match. Of course, there’s no reason that women should not debate from a strong position, but there’s no reason why their airtime and consequently their audience’s attention has to be devoted to what personal agendas. To occupy a platform is a privilege, and words should be chosen well and wisely, not grabbed at in the midst of an apparent emotional hijack; even more so in this case because the main protagonists are professional writers. I am not critical of anything that was said actually, more that the points were lost in the ensuing muddle. If I were the producer I would wonder if the brief had been too loose and baggy in the first place, allowing the contributors to confuse the listener with personal argument, rather than rational debate.

I am a feminist. I believe in social justice and equality in all its forms. I just don’t happen to think that personally denigrating other human beings, for whatever reason and in public, advances any cause – ever. Sure, it grabs attention, but real change happens outside the platform spotlight. It happens in mutually respectful conversations and disagreements between human beings, and it happens unseen, in hearts and minds. All this Twitterspatting clouds the worthy issues and leaves one with a headache. I am still unsure if it even made for good radio… and I would be interested to hear all the contributors voices and Jenni Murray, the presenter’s, on that one.

It all started here, on Woman’s Hour, the fallout is too tedious and viciously personal on nearly all sides to relate.

the birdNote to self: steer clear, steer clear.

Second note to self: you are so getting old. If you can’t stand the heat etc.

Question: is it possible big ideas are cuckoos in the Twitter nest?

Education, education etc.

A lot easier said, than done. I hope one Michael Gove comes to realise this at some point, although I realise that this will probably not be before his time is up in the Department of Education.

It is not science alone. It is not just a process, or even a set of processes. Sometimes it might be called an art. And an intuition, a value, a judgement…

Despite Mr Gove’s best efforts towards reductionism, it is not just about a curriculum on paper either, but rather one defined such as this:

Anything and everything that teaches a lesson, planned or otherwise. Humans are born learning, thus the learned curriculum actually encompasses a combination of all of the below — the hidden, null, written, political and societal etc.. Since students learn all the time through exposure and modeled behaviors, this means that they learn important social and emotional lessons from everyone who inhabits a school — from the janitorial staff, the secretary, the cafeteria workers, their peers, as well as from the deportment, conduct and attitudes expressed and modeled by their teachers. Many educators are unaware of the strong lessons imparted to youth by these everyday contacts. (Wilson, 1990)

So when I met a lady I am acquainted with in school today, who said her job was ‘only’ cleaning – I said not ‘only’. And when I recently met another man I am also acquainted with, who also cleans in a different school, who picks up on a academic hierarchy with his cleaning colleagues at the bottom of it, I was glad to hear him say that there wouldn’t be much teaching and learning without the cleaners…

So it seems that we all can teach lessons, but perhaps it’s the unassuming ones that are delivered with quiet dignity that are the most powerful. I am going to try and remember that for this year. And the next, etc. Like I said, easy to say, harder to do.

But you just never know.

Complicated

complicated (adj.) 1640s, “tangled,” from past participle adjective from complicate. Figurative meaning “not easy to solve, intricate, confused, difficult to unravel” is from 1650s.

If I were to have a brain scan, I reckon the whole lot would look like a Gordian Knot right about now.

Of course that is of no interest whatsoever to the casual blog reader and I really have scratched my head over what to post today, if at all. The problem is that I am trying to get my head around a few new concepts at the moment and the automatic pilot that can usually ‘run’ things in my absence seems to have stalled. I usually get brain freeze at this time of year, but this is slightly different; it’s more like brain stretch! I wonder where it will take me…

Fingers crossed it’s to somewhere other than a sudden, loud and painful *twang*

‘The Cost of Cameron’ via Eoin Clarke

As we fail to be overrun by unfettered Bulgarians and Romanians, despite the Government’s attempt to whip us all into a xenophobic frenzy, why not check out the real effect of the ConDems has been on the country prior to the dawn of 2014.

Talk about defecating on your own doorstep… Westminster Council really need to re-open those public conveniences they contracted out to Lord Ashcroft’s company…