Winding down, winding up – reflecting on writing goals

Suddenly, December is so close you can reach out and almost touch it.

How did that happen?

It doesn’t seem that long since I turned to the first page of the goals journal I bought in the spirit of commitment and treat.

A nice journal is always a treat. If I can put the worry of messing up the beauty of a fresh set of pages in balance with the excitement of … a fresh set of pages.

Now I’m on my way to a Christmas party, and I began the weekend with a family outing to Freo for their celebratory turning on the Christmas lights.

We’re trying to work out the best time to get people together to decorate the family Christmas trees.

Secret Christmas wishes are being whispered in ears.

freo christmas lights 2014 1
Ready to go
Mayor turning on Christmas lights
Ta da

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I just don’t think I’m ready for December.

A new battery

People keep asking if ‘things’ are slowing down with the year winding up.

No. Not at all. The next four weeks are going to be jam packed and I don’t know how I’m going to fit everything in.

I know I’m not alone in this. I’ve just been thinking about how much this time of the year impacts on people’s sense of balance.

We live at a break next pace and the holiday season just sees the action crank up.

In the spirit of the season, I’m considering a piece about wind-up dolls. Festive but frenetic.

I’m hoping it will be fun.

It will also be nice if it isn’t too clichéd.

Meanwhile, I know that I need to replace the battery in the clock in my bedroom. Since I schedule all my alarms and reminders through my phone, the clock is just for show.

I know the clock isn’t working. I know that.

Yet every time I look at it there is a jolt that comes from the sense of time being out of joint.

Normally I just know the time. I can usually say where I am in relation to the ocean, too. I just know. I don’t know how. I just do.

On my mind

All this is on my mind because of that (silly) clockwork piece I’m toying with.

It can really only be toying because there is work coming at me from all directions. I am aware that now is possibly not the best time to be starting a new ‘fun’ piece.

Then, again, perhaps it is the perfect time to have a ‘little’ something waiting in the folder at the side of the desk.

A space to breathe. Somewhere to be calm and revel in a moment of play.

A frivolous moment

Frenzy and stress, aside, December is fun. Out and out, fun.

That might be the Sagittarian in me thinking out loud, I suppose.

Jollity and all that…

Or it could be the promise of hot Perth nights with a breeze off the river and the stars clear overhead.

It is great to take time out just be with the people I love.

I’m looking forward to fun with the family over Christmas lunch. I gather there are plans for a return of my sister’s vegan turkey.

Always a treat…and so much less stress than the feathered version…

Salad picture of a turkey
The vegan turkey

All that said, I wish you all the best as the wild ride that can be the festive season begins.

*It was February. I was a bit late with the new year review because the New Year was so busy… I guess that cuts out a month in the equation.

Shifting views – juggling a desire to write with the reality of life

I didn’t make it to the page last week. Well, not on this side of my world. Not this page.

I missed it.

There were plenty of times when I thought I might be just about be ready and then…the moment passed.

Evaporated.

I thought about so many things that I could write. Somewhere in the chaos (I also didn’t make it to the housework, as it happens) there are a few sticky notes that sketch content and images.

I considered a mid-week post. I played with the idea of a late-week post. I realised I just needed to accept that some weeks I might not make it.

Of course, there is always the possibility of having a stash of posts ready and waiting. A patient queue of ideas all bright and shiny, ready and waiting.

It’s a simple dream.

I expect they’re the one’s you’ve got to have.

Bird in profile
Enough with the excuses

Spaces

When I was wandering around looking for somewhere to write last week (trying to multitask…it’s a long story ) I came across a new structure at Bathers Beach in Freo.

It is an open-framed shelter on a fair sized deck.

From the looks of things, it is a social space. Somewhere to kick back on a summer’s day. A place to party.

I think it would be a lovely place to write.

Frame of shelter at Bathers Beach
Open to the elements

I sat in the shade for a while. I made some notes. I took some photos that I think will be useful for a poem, perhaps even a story.

Mostly I sat.

I was waiting for someone and settling into writing just didn’t happen.

While I didn’t get much ‘done’ I did make progress.

I had popped into Dawn Meader’s exhibition at Kidogo Arthouse. It was an unexpected treat and I found a painting that I loved.

It is a view through a doorway into a garden in Tuscany in the late afternoon. (I wish I could remember the title. I’m sure ‘afternoon’ features.)

I have a thing for doorways that I can’t really explain. (Also, Tuscany – I must go one day – afternoon light and gardens.)

I’m looking forward to bringing to bringing the painting home. It is going to go near a reading chair. Or my writing desk. I think.

The painting got me thinking.

Wandering into the framed shelter – a space that is really all doorways and views – I got to thinking about how our world can shift.

Well, our view of it.

Depending on how we frame it.

Echoes

In the last couple of weeks there have been lines from poems that keep coming back to me. Especially T. S. Eliot’s ‘Journey of the Magi’.

I have mixed feelings about Eliot’s poem. I had to learn it as a recital piece for a Literature class when I was 15. It was a choral speech exercise and I really wasn’t fan. Not of the poem. Not of choral speech.

Looking back, I know that my ambivalence at the time came from how the poem was presented to us.

Perhaps the lines come back to me so often because they were gouged so deeply into my memory by rote learning. I don’t think that is it, though.

At the same time we learnt Edwin Muir’s ‘The Horses’. I remember that poem but it doesn’t come back to me in what I’d describe as meaningful ways.

I think – hope – it is more because I’ve come to an understanding and appreciation of the poem.

There are lines that catch at me and I think about them. Probably when I should be thinking about other things.

Lately I’ve been musing about two moments in the poem. The first is lines 8-10:

 There were times we regretted

The summer palaces on slopes, the terraces,

And the silken girls bringing sherbet.

The other is lines 33-35:

And I would do it again, but set down

This set down

This…

It is the word ‘regretted’ and the need to ‘set down’ that resonate most immediately.

Now, with the benefit of a lot of decades, I can see the cadences Eliot builds into the poem are exquisite. My frame has shifted.

I’m sure it will shift again.

The emotional range of the poem is striking. There is so much to think about.

Journeys

A lot of the time I think about the effectiveness of Eliot’s language. Recently, I’ve thinking about people making difficult journeys – literal and metaphorical – and what those journeys mean.

I live in Australia, a place where it’s hard not to think about people making difficult journeys.

We’re brought up on them as a national mythology. These days we impose them as a political …

I’m stumped, there are so many words that I could use that I shy away from. Most of them are unpleasant.

I’ll settle on expedience.

Departures, arrivals and returns are fraught. We’ve made them that way. We advertise them that way.

Eliot was writing about something that I know is unrelated to contemporary Australia and yet how I engage with the poem has shifted because of our current climate.

I realise this may seem oblique. I’m still working with it and I’m not quite sure where it’s going to take me.

The way I’ve been thinking about it means there are now different connections between my memory and my reading(s) of the poem.

Journeys, what we see, experience and share change us.

Eliot’s magi find themselves ‘no longer at ease’ (l. 41).

Likewise, my frame has shifted and I’m not as comfortable as I once thought I was.

Hot summer day at Cottesloe
Big blue sky

* I do, of course, have a list of ideas – and a schedule for some ‘key’ dates waiting patiently. I just haven’t done anything with it. I’m planning a writing weekend. I ‘just need’ to clear other commitments…

Blue skies – writing and the pleasure of simple things

I’ve had a great week, even if the weekend did get away from me. There wasn’t a lot of time for blogging but plenty of writing nevertheless.

It may not have been quite the writing I wanted to do but it was writing that I’ve needed to do.

I guess you could call it survival writing? Or, perhaps, utilitarian? Work-a-day?

More on that another time.

Perhaps. I’ll have to think about it…

What does stand out for me about this past week – and what I’ve been wanting to sit down and writing about all weekend – is the awareness of the pleasure there is in simple things.

Yellow, orange and red nasturtiums
Spicy nasturtiums

Spoken words

Monday featured a lecture at uni and Voicebox in Freo. I’m not a fan of double-booking and I admit I was a shade late getting to Voicebox but it was worth making the effort to get to both events.

I slipped into that dim room just let the words flow over me.

Arriving late meant that I missed part of the opening set, presented by Siobhan Hodge. I would have liked to have caught it all. Carol Millner and Randall Stephens were both wonderful.

The memory of some poems are still with me. One of the open mic in particular stands out.

It was Annamaria Weldon’s ‘My Father’s Ikons’ was mesmerising. The room was hushed and still. The images that ran through the poem were just beautiful.

 To be held in thrall by the spoken word is exquisite.

I can’t find the notes I made at the end of the evening. I expect I’ll come across them tomorrow. When I least expect it. In an unlikely place.

It is always the way.

The right place

My other joy for the week ties in with study.

It has been a week of making progress and I was just happy to be working through ideas and making plans.

I’m not sure whether I’ve shared previously about how good it feels to be on track with the project. After prevaricating for a bit after finishing my Masters last year I’ve been a tad nervous.

I  figure that new actions and directions can be unsettling at first.

Settling back into a formal study routine has been tricky. I’m aware that I need to tweak my schedule. My environment is still not quite right.

All that taken into account, the ideas are starting to take shape and it is exciting.

I’ve asked my friends and family to remind me that I was this blissfully happy when I start to moan about how hard it all is and ‘no, I don’t want to talk about my thesis’.

I’m sure it will happen. It must be inevitable.

Friends seem at pain to regale me with horror stories about the process.

For now, though, for now it is a balm and I feel blessed and I can’t wait to get back to the books tomorrow.
A blue sky behind a jacaranda
Blue skies above

*But first I need to sleep. When did the clock tick past midnight?