Friday, 8 January 2021
Working hard, thinking hard, hard times.
These are hard times. Hard to keep a focus on work when it seems that so much is threatened. So many people are suffering such huge loss. My friends who work in the NHS are struggling to keep heads above water. It's been almost a year now, of isolation. I really feel for musicians, whose lives are wrapped around performance. And meanwhile, in America.....
And I try to focus on the beautiful things people are capable of, creatively, and also in their struggle to support others through these times. I lost myself in the halls and the imprisoned seas and the statues of Piranesi by Susana Clarke, hiding from the world in her pages, then in Skin by Kerry Andrew, reading for hours. And all the time I try to keep faith with my own work.
I was rocked a little by an article published in a magazine. I'd like to say it was 'critical' of many writers. I think that was its aim. But it wasn't really so much critical as, well, rude. More about the personal preferences of the author of the article than the books and writings themself. But it raised doubts in my mind about what I was doing, how it might be perceived and received.
I always think there is a need for criticism. But this kind of writing, which has more akin to trolling than the criticism it poses as, does little more than silence young writers, those who have new ideas, different ways of thinking. I'm not sure it adds anything, other than a bitter flavour. But it did make me look hard at what I was doing and it did feed the 'imposter syndrome monster' who now and again raises his head. Maybe that's a good thing. Awash for a while in a sea of doubt, then touching ground again, trying to keep faith. Because at the end of the day I can't write for an audience, I can only do the work I do and hope that it makes a connection.
So, back to work, trying to discover how to present this thing that is in a way a perculiar diary. Above is a momentary look at the confusion in my head......
The work needs editing, but that in itself is a challenge as the writing is part image, part word. So I have scanned each sheet and turned it into a pdf, sent it to John, to share with the editor. I printed off a set for me to read through, shuffle and found the perfect place for the manuscript to live. Last year Cathy Fisher bought me an enormous box of chocolates from Chocolader. Perfect! If you don't know them then do take a look. Their gorse flower chocolate is amazing!! But so are the salted caramel truffles.....They are in Cornwall, but do mail order.....and, as I say, their boxes, once emptied ( a thing I am very good at doing!) have good uses.
There's something odd going on on my desk.... the bears are definitely up to something, distracting me....
Anyway, I've been wracking my brains about how to get this book into an order. I do remember being in this place with The Space Between. I think I have it now. But there's been a good deal of feeling like I was doing nothing useful in between times.
I have also been painting postcard images as an extra pledge point for Feather, Leaf, Bark & Stone. There will be seven in all, only available if the special edition is pledged for, and it is possible to upgrade your pledge to include these. I've done three so far, working on claybord.
I've a few more pieces to write, then the manuscript, such that it is, will be complete.
I was supposed to be in the Lake District this week working with the Spellsongs group. Although we could have travelled, and the organisers had put in place so much to take care of us, with testing and isolation once there etc, we collectively felt that it would be the wrong thing to do in these times. So this work has been postponed. I can't tell you how much I was looking forward to it. But we are moving forward as best we can, finding ways of working together appart. I miss those guys so much, but am listening and learning from them. One beautiful thing they shared today is this- humans becoming animal. Glorious. We are capapble of doing remarkable things. I love this and hope you will too.
I've been outside a bit, but not as much as I should be. Leaving stones in odd places, sometimes for people to find. This one below has been out for almost a week now, with fresh water tumbling over it.
This week I hope to get out more, think clearer, write better, push to finish the manuscript and then immerse myself in birds. That's the plan.
Take care friends. Let's hope for less interesting times. Tell me, what are you finding, what's helping you through? How are you doing?
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