Understating the obvious

Well it’s been a while, hasn’t it?! Mind you, you should be used to my somewhat hit and miss offerings of late (ahem, over the past few years…).

Right now I can point towards ‘these unprecedented times’ as my reason (ermmm, excuse). As to my infrequent and erratic appearance during the months and years prior to ‘the current circumstances’, well your guess is as good as mine as to the reasons why. I’m sure there would be overlap, if we chose to compare notes.

One thing that the CoViD-19 pandemic (euphemisms are so over-rated) has does is put a big spanner in the works on the novel that I was editing. Given that its storyline is virus-related (sort of), I just couldn’t get my head in the correct space to continue editing.

I’m not worried about the possible criticism – oh, she used CoViD-19 as an easy inspiration – oh, it’s lazy writing – oh, why would I want to read that after the terrible things that have been happening – oh she is profiting out of others’ grief and misfortune – and so on. Whatever you write, you will always be criticised, there will always be someone who wants to tear you to shreds. And, really, profit? I’m under no illusion that making any kind of living out of writing isn’t guaranteed, especially not these days!

Don’t get me wrong, I am lucky to be able to work from home. I’m also a little less lucky because I have a condition which means I need to shield/self-isolate more than your average person. It’s fine. I’m employed, I can pay my bills, I’m not suffering. But, these changes in circumstance have been a challenge. For those of us not in terrible difficulties (and for that I thank my lucky stars, my ancestors, this good Earth, any heavenly body or otherwise who is listening), this enforced stay at home period has resulted in ups and downs.

For me the downs meant a feeling of near-revulsion for my draft novel. Not because the plot is virus/pandemic related (all is not as it seems, if that’s not too much of a spoiler!), but just because my focus and concentration was suddenly directed elsewhere:

  • where to set up my home office (such as it is)
  • wondering how long before my eyes fell out from squinting at a laptop screen when I normally use two large desktop monitors in the office
  • how many times I would have to reset my printer to hook up with my home WiFi
  • how to set up my new work mobile phone
  • overcoming my revulsion for Skype/Zoom (I really do not like seeing my digital self)

The list could go on and on. I also felt guilty for allowing these, quite frankly, insignificant things to consume me when I could be in a much, much worse situation. Swear words were said, many, many times.

I’m only human. Like many, many others, I had to learn to adapt, to not keep beating myself with an imaginary stick for not making the most of my down-time by writing. But in truth, writing (or rather editing) felt like a bridge too far. Too much mental energy for the amount I had spare after all the work ‘stuff’ and the dark inability to tear myself away from the news as I ate my lunch or ‘relaxed’ after work.

Finally though, I had a breakthrough. Last night, unplanned, I managed to do some editing and amazingly resolved a plot problem that had been haunting me for a long, long time. I was quite surprised, to understate the obvious.

I’m not setting myself a goal for my next breakthrough. There is no deadline. Let’s face it, this novel has been a work in progress for several years, so the latest intermission won’t make much difference. I’m just thankful that I haven’t permanently lost my mojo.

It seems my writerly brain is alive and well, if a little peripatetic at the moment.

Stay safe everyone.

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Grounded – dVerse

photo(1)

nailers, brewers and
butchers; artists, hoofers and
railway platemakers

Titanic, double-
booked, third class overflowing
what a stroke of luck!

photo

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This week, on dVerse Poetics, Grace has asked us to delve into our family history – what makes us, where have we come from, who are our ancestors? As I get older, as life changes, I feel more of an urge to answer these questions. Recently I spent a lovely long weekend with my family up in Worcestershire, investigating old photos and luxuriating in tales of what happened way back when. This knowledge is to be treasured, no?

I have decided to be short and sweet this week. Two haiku-form stanzas and two photos – one of me as a little girl, and one of my scribbles during a quick coffee break. You’ll see the second stanza didn’t really sit well with me… hence it got the chop. Ancestors in both my mum’s family and in my step-dad’s family almost made it on to the Titanic… strange, but true!

 

 

Mixed Messages – dVerse

once, they said we could have it all –
the partner, the career, the children
we could be superwomen all day long
immaculate, capable, professional
the mother, the lover, the corporate boss
all superlatively and effortlessly achieved
the house, the car, the long-haul holidays
yes, once, they said, we could have it all

and then, and then
we were vilified for wanting a career, and
for wanting to leave our babies at nurseries, and
for making someone else prepare the dinner, and
we were penalised at work, we were penalised at home
whatever we did – we were wrong
the back-slapping testosterone board-room, boar-boorish doors were closed
the mothers at the school-gates-club
raised their collective eyebrows at parents’ evenings
as the strange apparition of the ‘career woman’ made her appearance

and then, and then
the childless, the husband(or wife)less
were dragged through the biting, back-biting, tight-lippedness
un-natural, bitch-in-the-boardroom, frigid, husk treatment
damned if you do what they want
damned if you don’t
damned every which way but young, blond, legs-up-to-here and easy to please
we are our own worst enemies, and
we listen too much to the media, and
to the politicians (who listen too much to the media)
we listen too much to our inner bitch voice
you know the one, the friend who nobody wants
can we turn her off?
only if we work harder than was ever expected
of the mother-lover-corporate boss –
only if.

Mixed Messages

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It’s that time of the month, the last Saturday, where us poets can leave whatever type of poetry we like at the dVerse bar – yes, it’s Open Link Night! Tonight, Mary is our congenial barkeep – her first time on OLN, so be kind, don’t wave money in her face to get her attention or reel off a long list of drinks. All in good time!

This piece of mine was something I was working on for submission to an anthology, but I decided to go with something else instead which was more fitting. I only half-finished this poem, so this has been buffed up a bit and chopped around. As is common with my work right now, it’s a little political! I obviously have issues I need to get off my chest.

Please pop over to dVerse to see what varigated delights await you. No two poems will be the same, that’s for sure. Happy reading, all.