Pouncing Pressure, Hidden Hijack

I’ve been re-listening to Elizabeth Gilbert’s Magic Lessons Podcasts this week, to ready me for five nights away on my own to catch up on writing my novel a little, with the novelty of no interruptions.  The thought of the time away is really a big deal when you’re a woman, a mother and a writer who works at home.  The first, second and last descriptors there are, in my experience, extremely difficult to manage alongside the act of writing a big piece rather than dipping in and out of smaller ones.  An excellent article in Harper’s Bazaar covers the issues I’m nodding at here and I suggest anyone navigating an unapologetically modern relationship or considering the messages they’re giving younger generations about gender roles reads the piece for comfort and fire-stoking.  It’s an absolute cracker.

But back to the Magic Lessons.  Every single episode feels freshly relevant.  Yesterday I did my own version of a homework task Gilbert sets a podcast guest in order to help balance an internal dialogue which often poleaxed ambition.  You can listen to the podcast here.  Reflecting on the task of stepping aside from the locked mind to exchange letters with both Fear and Curiosity, I was prompted to shine a light on my own fears because they’re currently presenting the biggest hurdle to productivity during my time away.

As a sidenote, a horrible irony here is that I really didn’t feel the weight of these fears until I booked some time away.  The act of booking the time, hell, the audaciousness of booking the time in some folks’ eyes, set off an epic domino chain in my head about pressure.  I didn’t realise the domino chain was happening until it was halfway through and heading towards an elaborate helter-skelter set of turns before stretching into middle distance further than my terrified eyes could see.  Think the domino chain in Collateral Beauty scaled up by a hundred and you’re there.dchtbc 2016 1

In a nutshell, the pressure-fear, wee darling that it is, has pretty much been whispering  self-loathing into my lugholes since I got my Airbnb e-receipt.  Here’s a fragment for your delectation;

‘Five nights away, huh?  That’s brave.  Or stupid.  Especially as you’ve had some really shit feedback on the novel recently.  Do you not think if you were going to have finished the novel you’d have done it by now?  I mean, you don’t even really have a good story, do you?  And you keep changing direction.  And you’re still not doing it the way you want it to, are you?  Because that way is shit and you know it. Your blindspot’s massive.  But yeah.  Have a great week away.’

Swim, swim, swimming I went.  Swimming into a pool of mindcrap.

That’s the thing about creativity.  It makes light and dark and balance must be imposed.

Despite the mindcrap, there was another voice in my head, quite possibly it’s the voice of leftover drugs from my teens but I guess that’s valid too.

The other voice says go and write.  And go and enjoy.  And lighten up, sweetheart.  You’re doing great.  Oh, and, most importantly….?  For the love of fuck write the book you want, the way you want it written, because evidently you care so much more about that than anyone else’s feedback.  How do I know that?  I know that because when you think about the book you want to write, you smile.  And that’s the thing.  Write a smiling book that you one-day-kinda-soon finish and to fuck with whether it ever gets published, read or respected by anyone else.  It’s either that or you’re carrying that baby everywhere while you try to write one that your heart isn’t in and one day realising the one you love isn’t there anymore – it just turned to regret.  It waited too long.

Writing that, I can hear the other voice more clearly.  It doesn’t belong to 16 year old me at a rave in Arbroath on MDMA.  It belongs to me AND Liz Gilbert, one of the woman in the USA right now making the world a better place against all the odds.  I dare say she’s scared and brave all at the same time.  How inspiring.

#FuckDominos

Advertisements

52and40/30 True Colours

I’ve found so much in the Pentlands since moving to Edinburgh.  Beauty and calm, mostly.  Birds.  Space to walk and run out problems, too.  Places to be with the kids, to eat and talk.  The city’s wonderful but if I didn’t have something opposite to frame it, I’d appreciate it much less.

One 2016 day I found the remnants of a Nazi Training Camp in the Pentlands.  My intuition had told me something wasn’t right, I didn’t realise exactly what till I saw this, two weeks later.

Take nothing for granted, I guess.

52and40-1

52and40/27 Altered Images

I’ve been working on a new project called The Grantidote.  Last week it took me west, to where I come from.

The Grantidote’s centering women, pausing to understand how a woman’s wholeness is made up of fragments big and small, some chosen, others delivered by circumstance.

The Grantidote’s about acknowledging the marks women leave on our world.  I believe by fully registering women’s impact we begin to rectify an error that’s made how we organise, experience and understand humanity feel ill-fitting and wrong.

Toxic masculinity needn’t control the whole narrative, after all.

IMG_3091

52and40-1

IMG_3096IMG_3100IMG_3104IMG_3106IMG_3108IMG_3112

Hop on my hashtags too, won’t you?  #52and40, Instagram and #TheGrantidote

52and40/21 Pivot Point

IMG_1836

Years ago, while reading about dog training, I learned the phrase, ‘pressure creates counter pressure’.  I was struggling with our then enormous puppy pulling on the lead.  The phrase underlined my feeling that yanking back was only making my arm hurt more and my stress levels soar. So I stopped yanking back.  Disengaged from negativity.  Got used to standing, waiting for fresh eyes and curiousity.  Eventually, it worked.

Scotland’s at a crossroads about whether, among other things, we value evolving multi-culturalism over a United Kingdom.  Yes or No.

Pressure and counter pressure.

IMG_1896IMG_1825

52and40-1IMG_1832

IMG_1828IMG_1851IMG_1886

IMG_1823

IMG_1868

What’s all this #52and40 malarky about then?  Find out here.

52and40/18 National Treasure

52and40-1IMG_1547.jpg

A treasure trail of research lead me to Jessie Kesson and now I can’t believe her name wasn’t always part of my frame of Scots reference.

Jessie was born in 1916 Inverness to a loving single mum who worked as a prostitute and knew challenge intimately.  At eight, Jessie was relocated to a children’s home in Aberdeenshire and denied further education because of her background.  By the end of her life in 1994, Jessie was a London novelist, playwright and producer of Woman’s Hour.

The bits in-between?  She told her stories.

IMG_1618.JPG

More on #52and40 here and on Twitter.

52and40/17 Woman Down

img_1003

I’ve wondered who this guy is a lot.

Turns out he’s Everyman.  He’s Joe Public, apparently, the work of German artist Stephan Balkenhol.

And yet….

There are more women than men in Edinburgh (and Scotland).  How about a sculpture of the city’s Everywoman, instead?  Or perhaps alongside?

According to population data, she’d be between 16 and 29, living in a flat with a council-tax banding between A and C and as likely to be single as she would to be married.  Her life expectancy would be longer than Joe’s, too.

So where is she?

img_1004img_0988img_1007

52and40-1img_1012

img_0991

More on #52and40 here and on Twitter.

 

52and40/15 Embers

img_0707

The zombies are calling me.

People who refer to other people as ‘they’.

‘They’re all the same’, and, ‘that’s what they want you to think’.

People who’ve given up on hope and change and hunkered down, rolling a boulder called fear into the cave doorway and frowning about how they’ll get the smoke from the fire to vent in a closed space.

I feel the temptation.

It’d be easy to sign up for the Daily Mail and play Loathe My Neighbour.

But, goddammit, I’ve no experience of easy ever feeling worth it.

img_0826img_0831img_085752and40-1img_0832

Read more about #52and40 here and follow the hashtag on Twitter.