Can’t work won’t work

So I’ve made lists, made threats, made bribes, made prompts, made further plans and… nothing. Not a thing done. I went to the International Literary Festival in Dublin last week and was too scared to speak to any of the agents, (“they might HEAR me!”) and walked away truly discouraged, as I can only imagine would be to the relief of some of them. A few seemed so jaded and unhappy it was unattractive. It did put to rest any idea I would have of writing as a full time thing. Only the very lucky are rewarded with that and I hate that it won’t be me. I hate lots of things these days.

In any case, I have gotten home each day and sat at this and done NOTHING. Let’s put that shame up there again shall we, NOTHING. I’ve broken my diet over and over again, let the house get sloppy and internally screamed at myself at work. Not worried. I despise people like me most of the time but I find I just can’t make whatever model I’ve concocted in my head sit comfortably. I might be insisting on perfection, but I’m never ever going to get it. All I’ve ever accomplished is failing comfortably; I’ve been the brown bread with the broken crust straight out of the oven, or the curve on a warped window sill that is all the more pleasant for it.  I have never achieved a bloody thing in my life, and something inside won’t let me start now.

All I want to do is to sit and enjoy the sun. Wish I could do that.

 

Just Because You’re an Idiot is no Reason Not to Try.

So. I have a 100k novel to tidy up and make presentable. I’ve done little to none of it, and the honest reason for that is I believe it is beyond me. I am stupid. Yes, stupid, like lose-a-winning-lottery-ticket stupid. Like pull-my-own-finger stupid. Like stick the pen in my eye stupid. I routinely handle heavy goods when it should be outlawed, and I’ve even become a Mum, when I honestly should be parented myself.

So. Stupid. And so this task which should be given over to Atwood, or Alberto Manguel, or Umberto Eco, or Neil Gaiman, these people who have books and libraries and time and effervesce and ability and jesus just the talent for it. The pitying looks from colleagues and the thud-thud-thud of my own brain makes the suggestion of it falling to me as nonsense. The book should be crafted into baroque plaster work, something intricate and smart and new each time you read. Instead I’ll make it into a holiday read with oversimple English because no one understands me anyway and a metaphor that is LIKE THIS IN CASE YOU MISS IT and a subplot that no one will see because see paragraph one, I’m an idiot.

Image result for excellent plasterwork

Something like this that you can take with you as you go, unadorned by attachment.

So yeah. Idiot. But if I leave this to languish, no one else will care about them. No one is going to hurt when they do, or fight for them to keep going, or even think about them after I’m gone. No one will give a damn. So yeah, I’m an idiot. But I’m the only idiot attached to this thing.

Jaysus, this is what it must have been like with Frodo, a minnow in the face of overwhelming odds. And we have similar feet, so there’s that…

Right, have to get dinner on. Gwan with ye.

 

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What?

Upvote.

I find myself less and less able to review and comment on sad events on social media. I noticed it with the dead of the pilots of 116. No words would even come close to matching that tragedy, and why should it? Who am I? The appalling nature of it in my minds eye, the spinning and crashing and violence of it all, followed by their pain and their deaths; a like on facebook? A heart on twitter? This is my landscape? No.

It means that when something is on Facebook, I’ll scroll. Al Jazeera is on my feed, and they are real. The starving in somalia, the gaza strip, the white helments in Aleppo, it is all there to see. They will bring you to the whitened cateract of the dead child under the rubble and make no apologies for it. And it does matter. I have and will continue to contact governments, ministers, TDs for it.
But what about me? My stomach sick, my heart lowered, my mental health punched. Returning from illness means I see this all anew, and I cannot. I cannot and will not be the drama they want to create. I will not give them the adrenaline they need. I will fight for a long time, not just for a battle for them.
And the need for sensationalism is everywhere. This blog was inspired by the widower of the slain police officer in France, who’s funeral oration is posted by the Guardian, which I scrolled right past. A private and unending sorrow that my sympathy as a stranger will do nothing to allieve. I provide them with nothing by my further distress. No.
Is it maturity? Is it a move towards unfeeling conservatism, that some political commentators develop as they get older? No, it is not. If anything, it seems I am getting more reserved, and saving the reduced energy I have for what I believe in the strongest (collapse of the world order and wealth distribution, mental health provision, female rights and oops did I say that out loud).  Me get older. Me now know me not wise. Me act accordingly. And onwards.

Oh So Tired

Right. You lot get ten minutes of my skilled and unique view of life. And that is by the clock people, I’m timing this.

To start with, I have been sick. As in, med cert for two weeks sick. My sinuses got infected, and then my inner ear, so I’ve been fatigued and exhausted in ways that moved from casual to formal. Bed rest, soup, weary eyes looking up at the ceiling once and then going back to sleep, the whole nine yards.

All recovered, I returned to work. My will for life was not quite there yet, but that was out of my hands. Barring lotto wins, life had to happen anyways. Then, on Friday, giving little man a bath, I noticed the most delightful blotches. All over him. Chicken pox, alright, right on time. He was the last person in his room at creche to get it, but he saved the best for last. And the creche obviously would not accept him until he was no longer contagious.

The interweb said that it would take ten days to get over it. Shooooot. Calamine lotion and Calpol. No Nurofen, as that can make the blotches much worse for some children. I recall enduring the worst possible experience with them; red pepper nights of burning skin while the rest of the family slept, lanolin cream doing nothing to ease it. But the kid seemed in rude good health; the major problem was keeping an energetic kid entertained without leaving the house for a week. By Saturday he was fine, all good. Which was just as well, because…

[Dramatic pause] The other half now has a bacterial infection in his chest and lungs. He is on seventy-five pills a day to keep him going, and even though he rarely gets sick, it is still a surprise for him how ill he feels. So that is all three of us, in the same period, getting sick. Perfect.

We are a sit-com, and the writers are getting desperate. Will keep you posted.

Hope and the hoping hope it brings.

So, hope. That thing at the end of the box (yeah, thanks for that, Pandora). The International Literary Festival Dublin is kicking off in May, and way back in March they announced details of their Meet An Agent Day, on the 20th of May. That sounds good, said the voice in mah brain. That event would be an ideal way to get our Ladies up and running.

They needed 1500 words, a synopsis, author bio and ten quid as submission fee. I got all of them ready, and to be honest edited the start to focus on Janet; she’s my strongest character with the clearest arc, I wanted her front and centre. So my first scene became the domestic scene, with all the subtext I had inputted. I sent it off, with an actual kiss on the envelope. Please oh please. Please.

The Universe loves suspense. The organisers were kind enough to push back the entry date due to the postal problems. As a result, the date of announcement was pushed back slightly, from last Friday, to this Tuesday (today). I know this, because I asked them in as breezy a fashion as I could.

See? All good.  They said it would be Monday, nothing to worry about.

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Then, there was a brief email sent out saying that the announcement would be sent out by Tuesday 11th April. Grand.

Hang on, ‘by’? As in, by midnight Monday? On Tuesday, but at some undefined time? Should I give hope the concrete shoes and chuck them in the water by Monday midnight, or should I keep going until Wednesday’s dawn chorus? Should I ask them again online, or would that mean I was on a list?

I hit on the unhealthy plan of checking out the hashtag #ilfdublin agent on Twitter; if someone got a place, they most certainly would be annoucing it on their own social media. Okay. So off I go to the refresh button, checking for any sign. Nothing so far. Then, lunch with a dear friend who I have not seen for a very long time, and had missed a lot. I will admit to having my personal account open on my desk when I got back to my desk. There was nothing in my inbox. But wait, there! In my Promotions folder, (thanks Google) was an email. I didn’t get to breathe before I clicked it open.

No. No invite or novel fair for me. I thought about sending out an email in response; “Dear Literary Festival, many thanks for your rejection. However, we have received many other fine rejections and unfortunately yours was not successful. So I expect to show up and be made a fuss of on the 20th. See you there,” etc.  You will be proud to learn I did not.

Instead, I am adulting like a pro; I will be going along on the day anyway, as should you, it is an amazing day. You know how many were invited? Approximately five people. I am not sure if it is five per agent, or five in total, but that is still a tiny amount to pick out from hundreds. As egotistical as I am, even I can see the odds were against it, and that there is no shame in this, just in over-reacting to this. It is still a good day, and my ladies deserve to be championed. Hugs to you all.

 

 

A View To A Day

I know several people with anxiety, had it myself several times in my life. It is so horrible it is boring; convinced of one’s own awfulness, the past and the future combine to create a huge horrible vista where every past mistake is evidence of my terrible nature, and the future is a huge horrible mistake waiting to happen. Run! Hide! Your disgusting face and your pathetic nature is going to make you create the same mistakes over and over! The future is a nightmare! Run! See illustration;

“I must change everything because I am horrible; I am horrible, see my past; my past is horrible, so my future will be too; I must change everything.”

So what does a person do when they think so lowly about themselves? Some are obliged for various reasons to have to live with themselves. They must go on, and just learn to ignore or manage those terrible feelings that say they are so awful, they must not go on. The road can seem rather dreadful when cursed with these feelings, so much so that a radical shake up in how you think can be necessary.

Firstly, and this may seem perverse, remember that life is finite. If it is to be horrible, remember that no matter what, in a hundred years the burden will be lifted. No plea to your nature, no higher power can remove that fact from reality; one day, it will be all over. Rejoice!

Secondly, you can be fairly certain that you are going to bed tonight alive, and getting up the next morning alive. It is fairly likely that you will not be losing your life today. Sure, there can be big surprises in life that come without warning, but nevertheless, bar comets, car crashes, or medical diagnosis, today you will have. So yes, for the next twenty -four hours you are going to have to have a set of facts that won’t change. This life, and this body and brain are what you are going to have to work with over the next twenty four hours. So this is what we have to deal with. And it leads us to some questions;

This is as smart, as pretty, and as clever as you are going to get today. This is you, as good as you are and as bad as you are. This, today, is your reality. What are you going to do, today? Are you going to add to the sum of the world’s problems? Fill the air with negativity and sorrow? Make others feel bad, sad and upset? Think of yourself, and only of yourself? Or are you going to do something else? Put it another way;

what goodness can I create, even if I myself am not good? What kindness can I do, even if I am not kind to myself? What wisdom can I follow, even if I know I am not wise?* How do I make others feel, even when I cannot control how I feel about myself? What beauty can I seek out, even if I do not find any beauty in myself?

At the very least, I can go to bed making the world better, even if I think I myself am not. And when a person sets themselves the concrete task of making the world better, it is rather remarkable how many possibilities can be seen.

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*Socrates had something to say on this point, but that’s another blog.

 

What A Weak.

So, illness. Doesn’t happen often to me, I have the constitution and the subtle nature of a plank of wood. However, every so often I’m reminded that I am a biological entity like everyone else and I get sick. By ‘so often’, I mean every ten years or so. This is the week in question; my sinuses are all infected and it’s in my lungs, and the reduced lung capacity has made me weak. So I have been off work all this week. The last time I had so much time to myself I was on maternity leave, and that was at such a high pitch of fear there was no chance of rest; merely sitting there squawking my arms like the fat hen I was.

Being ill is strange to me. Most of the time a night’s sleep or a big meal means the energy is back again and off we go. But this time, no immediate efforts made things  better. I’ve been asleep for the better part of a week and I am only getting back to myself. Strange, to have to listen to what my metabolism is saying to me. The eyes in the mirror look weird.

Photo eyes

Tired? Me??

So that’s been my week. No work done at home or at … work, no writing and no editing. But there was no choice, I’m forced to admit. There was nothing I could do, I had to do nothing. C’est la vie.