Moments of clarity – making the most of opportunities for writing

I’ve known for days what I wanted to write about for this post.

Do you think I could set it down? Did anything come to me any of the times I sat down to write?

No.

Nothing.

Well, nothing that I’ve kept.

As I left my mum’s house yesterday I stopped to smell the gorgeous roses growing among an admirable crop of weeds. I thought about last week’s post. I remembered the roses at uni. I thought about this week’s post. My plan had been bubbling away at the back of my mind throughout the busy week. It all made sense.

I then jumped in the car to run errands that would have been tricky on public transport and forgot it all.

Not that forgot is the best word. I still knew what I wanted to write I just couldn’t get it to work.

Two cafes, a sushi train and a (regular, because I spend too much time at my desk) remedial massage later and I still didn’t have the words.

Yellow rose in mid-bloom
A moment in time

In the air

Last week, as I walking through the High Street Mall in Fremantle, I passed a juggler. He had just dropped one of his clubs and cheerfully observed, ‘so long as I catch most of them.’ We laughed. He picked up the club and started again. I kept walking. I’m hoping he doesn’t mind if I use the moment in a poem. I suppose that when it is I could go back an ask him if it’s ok. Or not.

The moment has been on my mind. There have been more than a few conversations in recent times about juggling…work, family, study, friends, life*… Tightropes and contortionists have also featured, but to a lesser extent.

I’m taking that passing exchange in the mall was serendipitous. I need to remember that it’s ok to drop things once in a while. It’s picking them up and going on that’s important.

Looking at the past couple of  weeks, I’ve been unsettled.

I had been working towards enrolling for months. I’ve been thinking about my topic, one way or another, for years. There’s still an element of transition. Suddenly, it’s serious.

Ok. It’s not that sudden at all. It turns out that knowing and feeling are quite different. I need to get my eye in.

Ongoing ‘eye-in’ challenges: juggling (balls, clubs, knives…), running in for skipping games, slicing a crusty loaf of bread. The list could go on.

Lessons and connections

Even though I’m feeling as though I’m behind, I have made progress. There’s a lot going on and I’ve been getting things done. The fact that there is still a whole lot more to do doesn’t take away from progress that has been made.

I was feeling a shade guilty yesterday when I resorted to social media rather than persisting with a (putative) draft of this post.

The draft went to the recycle bin. My reading went to The Paris Review’s interview with Carolyn Kizer from the Spring 2000 issue. Kizer passed away yesterday at the age of 89. It was a great interview. I read it on my phone while morsels of raw fish drifted past me and I considered how brave I might be. (Not terribly, again, as it turns out.)

I finished reading wanting to know about Kizer and her work. The bookstore I wandered into – guiltily, because there was a lot on my to-be-done list yesterday and mooching in bookstores was not – didn’t have any copies of her work that I could see. I’ll try at the library during the week.

An unexpected boon in reading the interview is the reference Kizer makes at its close to Chaucer’s Criseyde when she quotes, “I am meyne own woman wel at ease.”

Although I had promised myself there would be ‘no Chaucer’ when I signed on to my Masters (it’s a long story and for another time) there is plenty of Chaucer on my to be read/reread pile at the moment. Criseyde is one of the characters I’ll be looking at in terms of a number of writers. The quote Kizer hit on sits beautifully within some of the planning I’ve been doing.

A moment of knowing

It seems as though everything is coming back to sorting myself in relation to the study-project. Of course, there are other things going on in my world. There is another birthday celebration today, for example. I should be running the vacuum over the floors. The ‘happy birthday’ banner needs to be hung (it turns out people take it personally when it isn’t…). I have work to finish for work…

While today’s birthday doesn’t signal any of the introspection of the birthday lunch of a few weeks ago, the direction of that post has been reinforced in the past week.

I haven’t focused as much as I would have liked on the research I wanted to do this week. That’s ok. I’ve made progress and come across useful things. I might even be able to share a freshly drafted poem in a week or two.

The concerns about balance and juggling come down to a moment at the library last week.

I was on the reading terrace at the Reid, celebrating my newly functioning library card by dipping into Elizabeth Fowler’s Literary Characters: The Human Figure in Early English Writing (Cornell University Press, 2003). I was on page 2, reading the footnotes, and experienced a moment of clarity that this is what I want to be doing. I love following the ideas of one writer into those of another and connecting them with my own.

Is it odd to note that I teared up?

I was just so happy to be there, so excited to be doing this work.

It is going to take me years. I need to keep up with everything else in my world – and I have to admit that there’s a lot.

I have no doubt that I’ll drop a club or two from time to time. But, like the man said, ‘so long as I catch most of them’ then pick up the rest and keep going…

Stack of books for research
My starting points for the week

I think I should acknowledge that I am blessed with an amazing support network of family and friends to and for whom I’m thankful. Some of whom I think have just arrived for lunch and I haven’t done that vacuuming…

*Obviously, this is in no particular order…

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