There’s a very friendly facebook group called The Bookshop Cafe, whose members from time to time post photographs of beautifully arranged bookshelves and comfortable, coordinated reading corners. But oh dear, here’s a picture of mine, and however artfully I crop the photo, it won’t look any better. Instead it provides a clue to the dilemma I’m about to describe in this article.
What to write, what to write? It’s not that I’m short of ideas – they and the notes for them already take up six different drafts on the “for my eyes only” pages of my WordPress blog. Salvation may lie in the half squashed guide to Mindfulness for Dummies, which could help to focus my untidy state of mind. Select party of readers, lick your lips in anticipation.
When to write, when to write? Almost certainly first thing in the morning would be best, from the point of view of clear ideas and flexible typing fingers. But some days I’m at work and the other days I’m having breakfast in bed on principle, simply because I can. My thoughts trail from the cereal bowl to last night’s unfinished Evening Standard crossword (which I can always complete in the freshness of morning), and from the second cup of tea to commenting on whatever dashes past on Facebook before I lose it forever. Arbitrarily, I seem to have settled on posting on a Friday. Tiny little band of appreciative fans, please take note (but don’t hold me to it).
Where to write, where to write? My study is the intended place. But what’s the collective noun for things that arrive from real life and get in the way? Could it be an “interruption” of papers, or a “bureaucracy” of bumf? These piles increase more than they diminish, and sorting them out takes precious minutes hours days weeks months years of my life… For some reason this always involves crouching on the floor until the joints freeze into the filing position. Then they can only be unstiffened through repeated use of the yoga mat which fortunately has been left rolled up next to the bookshelf. Faithful followers, you may have to wait while I roll my shoulders and bre…e….e…eathe.
How to write, how to write? I’m so impressed by the stern colleagues on blogging advice sites who say: “Blog a coherent sequence of themes”. But my highly exclusive little fan base will know from previous posts that I’m a bit of an anti planner. In other words, I like to catch an idea as it happens to butterfly past, gather a few images (concrete or metaphorical), bung in a prissy bit of moral tone and some rhetorical fulmination, and embark. I note these random ingredients and tug them into some sort of order sandwiched by a starter’s flag and a finishing line. But I often don’t know where they’re going to lead me when I begin, so the racing metaphor, although apt for a deadline beset blogger, goes off piste here. Maybe that’s where the excitement lies for my loyal fan(s)?
And yet, I seem to be writing. Have courage, small group of expectant readers! Because Who To Write For – is you!
But now I’m distracted by my son coming in. He mentions needing to get something from the loft today. Ai caramba! I can’t get into the loft without help, so here’s a rare chance to sift through generations of family photos whose copyright NOBODY can challenge and which are therefore invaluable for blog articles. And they’ll lead to all sorts of new possibilities – posts on gardening, on tennis, on dust and insulation, on assorted crockery and mouldy cushions and paintings I no longer want on the wall, on why paintings work on the wall for a while and then don’t, on the seaside, on studying, on travel, on domesticity, on childhood, on friendship, on generational similarities and differences, on work, on work outings, on dumping work and possibly missing work … and of course while I’m up there I’ll be ambushed by boxes and boxes and boxes of books.
Meanwhile my son will just quietly retrieve what he came for and wait, and my dwindling group of readers will sigh… and sigh………please let me know you’re still there, fans, readers, tolerators and incidental visitors by posting a comment. Do any of you also live like this? In return, I promise a blog post a week and a second novel (one day).
© Jessica Norrie 2016