What’s that thing again?

I am amazed at how people find time to post to their blogs in the run up to seasonal festivities. While I am sure not all of you will be celebrating, and while it is possible some of you may be visiting elsewhere and therefore not in preparation meltdown, I am sure many of the posts I have been reading will have been crafted in the midst of chaos. I salute you!

I was interested to read the reflections of the immensely talented BottledWorder about when to write, and when not to write. This is not the same point as above regarding prioritising and finding time in the midst of other pressures. But I’ll contrive that segue anyway. Bear with me, my dears. You knew the dangers when you signed up for this mission.

BottledWorder was interested in the effect on writing of memory and immediacy. Some blogs I read are “of the moment” and others are more considered and so distant in time and experience. There is no right or wrong (there is no try, only do or do not!); my own writing is a shambles of both reflection and immediacy, depending on my mood, the weather, the state of the public transport system and whether there is an R in the month. On a good day I think of it as a jolly little pot luck offering, on bad days nothing more than a tale told by an idiot, full of sound and fury, signifying nothing.

I started this blogging journey to try and record memories. I have failed miserably in my original aim, which was to capture somewhere the stories of my family and childhood before senility deprives any potential grandchildren of the pleasure of hearing about the day Grandma got stuck in the toy box, or how I learned to walk. I can tell these stories to family and friends easily, but writing them didn’t work very well. Perhaps I should try again now I have had more practice.

However, then the spooky thing happened and the brilliant, sparkling FOG wrote about forgetting.

So where are we, or more importantly, am I (because it is all about me) left in the conversation about writing and not writing, expressing events in the now or mediating experience meaningfully, remembering or letting go of memories?

Having a demented parent has made me more anxious about my own forgetfulness and a blog seems even more than ever a perfect way to record events now, before I lose them. But for what purpose?

Watching my mother rewind her life, I see she is happy if absent. She seems to be vanishing down a long tunnel, fading into the distance, as I drive forward with my life, work, children. We are leaving her behind and moving on. I hold onto the knowledge she is happy because it matters. I am sure she is happy because she sings a favourite song all the time, and smiles. At this stage if she was unhappy she would cry or shout. Some days she is quite lucid but unaware of the other days. She doesn’t care. In a way I am jealous.

I can’t ask her about the past because the story is different every time, and rather than go off on a tangent about the nature of truth or reality, suffice it to say her memories are no longer fixed or certain. She answers questions or says things to fill conversational gaps or be helpful. It’s very creative really, just not reliable testimony.

If I end up like my mother, it won’t be a burden. She has shed those. But I will lose the chance to share memories, which I think are our immortality. We become the story told about us, and we try to influence it to our advantage. Other people may jump in and muddy the waters by sharing the information that the delightful, generous, upbeat, beautiful and generally gorgeous EBL is in fact a bad-tempered, bossy, interfering old biddy. Both those views have truth. It depends on the R in the month. And whether you do what I tell you.

So I think my memories are my future. So long as I share them, whether immediately as a record of experience or later as a reflection on learning from experience. How and what I share tells you about me as a human. Do not assume the description is a Universal Truth, or even that Universal Truth exists; everyone views the world differently both in the present and in memory – you have only to look at witness statements of events to see the evidence of that. What we say is about who we are as people, not about what “actually” happened.


Away from it all

I am away from home for the rest of this week because the world will end if I don’t spend more time in Head Office. You will have heard about the Prophecy; this is what it is really about. Well, I like to think that, but in fact it’s more a confluence of meetings all in one week, which at least gets them out of the way and means I can then tidy up at home before the family arrive for the festivities.

So much for the housekeeping announcements. If the fire alarm goes off, it is not a test and you should follow me to the nearest exit.

This preamble was intended to continue and state for the record that, if I get any time in the evenings, I would quite like to use this opportunity to write. I won’t be posting here probably; limited access to yon t’Interweb may preclude it. Unless you hear from me, of course. It’s all a bit speculative.

I don’t know if you travel away for work. People who don’t, seem to think it’s a marvellous perk. Those who do, generally agree it’s like having your soul eaten by the anthropomorphic manifestation of dreariness. If it had a face it would be the girl from the BBC test card, sitting with the creepy clown doll and playing noughts and crosses. She would smile at you and devour you from the toes up as you lay helpless in the beigeness of the hotel room, deadened to life and laughter by the total neutrality of the décor and the blandness of the food, served earlier at your neat little table for one in the darkest corner of the restaurant (for the business woman of taste and discretion – the sub-text being “and no friends”).

That test card was presumably supposed to imply fun things kicking off; in practice it was stultifyingly boring. She sat there for hour after hour. She never moved or even blinked. I know because I used to watch her when I was a little kid. For ages and ages I watched, but nary a flicker. Sometimes the picture would lose its quality and there would be dots and lines crawling around the screen. If the horizontal hold went you had to fiddle with a button at the back and if that failed, thump the TV. The youth of today will be looking at these assertions blankly (a bit like test card girl in fact) because I really can’t remember the last time I had a TV that acted like that, but it was before they invented colour. Now the digital switchover means that everything pixellates when the pigeon lands on the aerial, but that’s different, plus we have BBC iPlayer to overcome such misfortunes.

Hotel TVs don’t get any kind of decent reception as far as I can tell. I don’t watch much TV but I do like to have it on when I am away to add some noise and movement to the blankness of the room. This is how I found out about CSI, and it’s a real balance to decide whether to put up with that or look at the neutral décor for the evening.

What I mean by all this moaning is that being away for work is utterly boring when falls the eventide. Hotels aren’t fun unless you are on holiday. There are only so many hours I am prepared to soak in a bath. Being alone in a hotel room is solitary confinement that has somehow crept under the radar of the Geneva Convention, and allows companies to seclude their staff in a very special kind of purdah (in the segregation sense, not the election sense). You get a Gideon’s Bible and then you are left to it, without even a Red Cross parcel or Amnesty International postcard to provide hope. It is particularly a problem for lone women working away from home; you don’t want to get me started on hotel bars. So obviously I fill my time by doing extra work.

Except this time I have a cunning plan: I am taking my knitting and my novel and looking forward to some me-time. Hurrah for me. It can work quite well, because I have tried the knitting thing in the past. I haven’t tried the writing though, so we shall see how the environment affects the Muse. At least it will be quiet. Although I could go to the bar as typing on a laptop is almost as good as wearing a sign saying “Hello, I work for the Inland Revenue and am particularly interested in cacti as my hobby.”(Although there are probably websites even for that.) I don’t have anything against cacti, of course, nor even the Inland Revenue, so long as they have nothing against me.

Enough rambling. It’s time to go and pack. I hope your week is filled with joy and friendship. I hope mine is filled.


Not writing but drowning

I want to write. Really I do. I enjoy it, and feel so much better inside when I manage to do it.

And yet, and yet…

It’s Sunday evening and I haven’t touched the keyboard since Friday. December is the busy month, and I have been preparing for the joyful end of it, preparing for family arriving, and presents to be opened, and food to be consumed.  We love Christmas in EBL Towers, in a kind of pagan, mid-winter way, celebrating life and light and warmth when the evidence of our eyes as we look out the window is that the world is cold and dark and still. We thumb our noses at the wintry depths, so as the wheel turns and the solstice meets our deepest wish for abundance, growth and fresh greens, we are joyful.

I was relaxing after my yoga practice today and thinking about how we are so connected with the wheel of life. When I get to the relaxation at the end of the exercises, I breathe deeply and let myself go out into the world, let the boundaries between me and everything else fall away. I remember that we are all stardust, and get quite hippy in the head. Today I listened to hear what the world was doing on a frosty Sunday morning.

There was an occasional car going down the lane, although none came past our house. A few birds were chirping in the branches of the lilac tree, or scrabbling at the roof tiles. Pesky sparrows; they add an extra layer of insulation to the house though so I should be grateful. The world was quiet and listening too, so we listened together for a little while.

Even as I lay there, reaching out, the listening became a listing which began to write itself on the wall of my mind. “Laundry,” it said authoritatively. “Then wrap presents and finish knitting that hot water bottle cover you want to give to Person Who Likes Knitted Stuff. Dust and tidy. Hang up wet laundry, put in the next load. Do mother’s lunch. Sort out the box of stuff to be unpacked. Order the flowers for Friend Who has Everything. Send that recipe to Person Who Wants to Make Cheesecake. Make fish and sweet potato curry. Wash up. And oh yes, if you really must, check your blog and finish that novel.”

Well, my dears, I haven’t got through the list at all. My goodness me, I have not. But EBL is a hippy frood, who not only knows where her towel is, but put it through the wash and has a nice clean one out on the towel rail already. EBL decided to do the list in a different order.

So here I am, my dears, writing something. I haven’t done everything on the list, but I have done the essential essentials. Then I decided the next essential was to try and write. I have put the novel on hold until after the festivities, but writing, there’s the rub. I do want to carry on with that.

Is there inspiration in laundry? Brother Lawrence might have thought so. He understood that there is inspiration in everything around us; in his case he saw it as evidence of the presence of God, but you may call it something else. If you feel that it may be true, in whatever form you find most useful or meaningful, then the trick as a writer is to tap into it, and give birth to the inspiration within, yes, even in laundry.

No pressure.

For myself, I find I need to reach the still, calm point within me. I cannot drown myself in words if I am already drowning in busyness.

I don’t know how it might work for you. While I can’t hear the Muse if there is too much noise and bustle around me, I can imagine other people find it exhilarating and powerful to be surrounded by activity and chatter and commotion, and that the energy wakens and liberates their own experiences so that their words then flow.


Once upon a time….

Before I was seduced by the glamour and promises of glittery, shiny, popular NaNoWriMo, I found it hard to write every day. Other things happened to get in my way, like work, family, friends and basically having the attention span of a …

Sorry, back again now. Where was I? Oh yes.

Then it was like a miracle. I decided to do the November writing shuffle and try to meet a 50,000 word target. I wrote almost every day, come hell or high water. We have had flooding here so I’m not joking. The Hellmouth thing was hushed up though. It’s all true, but they hunt you down if you try to talk about it. I’ve probably said too much already.

Where was I, again?

Oh yes, the miracle of writing. Prior to NaNoWriMo, when capitals were at the beginning of proper nouns and sentences, I struggled to write regularly. I tried the fifteen minutes a day rule, I tried prompts form various places, like Plinky, or Daily Post. I tried doing those 30 days of Whatever lists. I tried, my dears, but I did not succeed.

You know what they say, of course. No, not that, the other thing. If at first you don’t succeed, try, try again! Honestly, do keep up!

So I tried NaNoEtc and I succeeded. Now it’s December and all those anti-writing, word-hating, finger-deadening, mind-swallowing, ideas-munching demons are back and I can’t write every day. I have done a little bit of work on Da Novel, but not as much as I would like. I have started a few posts, but they have been pretty shambolic. The least shambolic have been posted up for good measure, just to show willing.

Is it the post-NaNo stress? Did I just hold life back, but now it’s overwhelmed me? Did I win the battle, but lose the war? Is Santa to blame – because I would be doing better without his shenanigans, I can tell you.

I’ve been having fun though, visiting Offspring in the West, knitting a very little bit (that’s another target for this weekend: to finish a gift by next Tuesday), reading all the great blogs I found in November, as well as those I already followed, trying to restart the yoga now my eye is getting better, and also dealing with life’s harsh realities.

Must be off now though – quiz to print for tonight’s episode at the Village Hall.

Thanks for dropping by.


NaNoWriMo Finale – Looking back in celebration

So here we are, on the final day of NaNoWriMo, and clutching our total word counts in delight or not, pride or not, amazement or not.

NaNoWriMo, how do I thank thee? Let me count the ways…

  1. Without you, I would not have written my story without the push to achieve the word count. It has been sitting on my computer in embryo for months.
  2. Without you, I would not have read so many great blogs without the immersion in the process. I loved discovering all those great bloggers and learning from them.
  3. Without you, I would not have considered that I dare call myself a writer. I learned that being a writer is about what I do, not what other people say.
  4. Without you, I would not have discovered that the difficulties I faced were normal and surmountable. If other writers face them and have ways of dealing with them, then I can too, and it doesn’t mean I can’t write.
  5. Without you, I would not have found help in thinking about structure and form and all those things that turn a good idea into an actual novel.
  6. Without you, I would not have discovered that I can write a novel, and actually I can’t write short stories (at least, not yet).
  7. Without you, I would not also have rediscovered the pleasure I take in blogging. I may not continue an almost daily blog, in the interests of humanity, but I know I genuinely want to do it more often than in the past.
  8. Without you, Sigoth may never have plotted his own novel. OK, he’s still not actually writing – but maybe by next year.
  9. Without you, I would not have learned that, for me, writing is an important tool for my own mental well-being. I feel happier and calmer by writing regularly.
  10. Without you, I would not have had the nerve to finish a list of things at less than ten. Oh, wait…

I can be all cheery because I reached the word count. I’ll let you into a secret though. I don’t like to fail targets – it’s why I like project management. I accepted the deadline because I was already confident I had a full novel to write, and I already knew I could produce volumes of words from having written a dissertation. I do SMART.

In a moment of characteristically indulgent self-reflection: did I take a goal that I was confident would be easy (low expectation and low challenge) or did I avoid setting myself up to fail (managed expectation with genuine challenge)? I have never done NaNoWriMo in previous years, but this year I had a story clearly in my head and over 10k already written. My novel is well over 60k now.

If I look at myself from the outside, as best I can, I am amused to notice I am already playing down the fact I did write a lot of words. I am giving reasons for why it was no big deal, why it wasn’t special. Well, I am British, after all.

It has taken me a number of years to reach this target, not just 30 days. So I will give myself a small pat on the back, and move on. Well done for persistence, EBL, you old tortoise, you.

I had to write this story. It simply would not fit inside my head any more. Whether anyone else ever reads it is less important; it isn’t going to bring about peace in the Middle East or feed the starving. It is now birthed. As any parent knows, the next bit is harder still. Potty training might be tricky. To be honest, I am dreading the teenage years already.

Whatever writing you have done this month, I hope you are happy if you have written at all, or that you have enjoyed reading what others have written. I have managed both for this short while, and I am grateful. Now I plan to continue at a reduced rate, and catch up on my knitting as well.



NaNoWriMo Day 26 – looking back in wobbliness

Do you ever have this experience? A job looms over you, with big scary teeth and dripping fangs, and possibly tentacles? Laser eyes may be involved, it depends on the task.

Anyway, you bolt on your trusty taskbuster, and go take out that beast. If you have friends or colleagues with you, you may have to cross the beams; otherwise reversing the polarity is a popular option. Whatever it takes you grimly wrestle the task to the ground, wrap it in ropes or chains and remove its mask to reveal the caretaker / chap on the fairground ride / childcatcher.

You relax. Your task is completed and bundled away safely, never to threaten you again. You tick it off your list, put the kettle on and admire yourself.

But wait! What’s that? Just as Grendel had a Mother, so this task has a Little Sister. She is not little. It turns out she is even more scarily-toothed, drippier-fanged and tentacularly-endowed.

So, editing. What’s that about? How can all my beautifully crafted words clash and tear and rend each other in such an unhelpful way? Who broke my writing?

I am still writing small paragraphs and making amends. But trying to fit it all together seamlessly and enjoyably is difficult. Wah, wah, make it easier!

Thank you, I feel better for that.

To be honest the editing was clearly going to be a problem as soon as I realised that writing a novel in a random order was going to be horrid to tape together. At the moment the glue and bits of string I am having to use are making it look a little more like a Blue Peter contraption I made earlier and less like a finely crafted piece of Art.

I realise I am not producing high Art. I am not that demented. I am also pretty certain that artists are messy. I hope to make it through, and am determined to do so. It’s my first time, though, so it is a little intimidating.

So here I go, making growly faces to show how brave I am, like a writerly haka.

What do you do?

May your words flow freely and your pages fill in an orderly fashion.


NaNoWriMo day 25 – looking back in contentment

It is a truth universally acknowledged that it is not very fashionable to be contented. We must all strive ever harder for more and more things, most of which need to be upgraded, replaced or renewed at ever-decreasing intervals.

So today I had an unfashionable day. Various offspring might be inclined to comment wryly that perhaps, mother, you don’t have any other kind of day. To which I might retort, somewhat tartly, that actually yes I have, thank you so very much, as recently as 15 August 1976. Now go and do something useful, like the washing up.

Unfashionable? Why so, EBL?

Let me tell you. Today I was simply content with the things going on in my life. I don’t need no education, I don’t need no thought control, advertisers leave this kid alone!

I didn’t promise this was going to be an exciting post, did I? No? Thank goodness for that. I don’t like to break promises. To prove it, I kept one today which I made to myself, so no living humans were at risk of harm. I reached my 50k word count for NaNoWriMo. Yay.

Regular readers will be aware that yesterday I came within a gnat’s whisker of it anyway, so this is perhaps not a surprise. I was, however, buoyed up to read that an author whose work I quite enjoy blogged to say he had written 40k since 1 November on his new novel, and he reckoned that was 90% of the job done. He’s a real author and publishes lots of books and is actually quite popular, so I felt in good company. Admittedly his first draft is more likely to resemble a real novel than mine, but it’s a good start.

Lots more work to do on my novel, but the barrier is overcome, the basic body of work is there. In a sense, the Rubicon is crossed. I am now editing, not writing afresh. I have produced something akin to a novel. For the moment, I am content with that.

I am also aware hard work is to follow, but I am content with that too.

Further contentment ensued as I sat in front of the fire, caught up on emails, did a job I had been putting off, and then in the afternoon, went to visit Sigoth’s parents and his cousin and new spouse on a visit from NZ. Tea, cakes and chat are pleasant occupations for a Sunday afternoon. This is especially true if they are provided by other people so that there are no significant implications of the washing up or clearing away variety. What made this even more enjoyable (I know! More!) was the fact that we spent quite a lot of time talking about books.

Oh, the luxury! I haven’t had a good book discussion in ages. We had similar tastes as well, so books Sigoth’s Cousin had enjoyed and recommended are now on my list of possible purchases. I realise I miss this kind of conversation very much so I will now have to get my thinking cap on about how to do something about that. Sigoth and I can have rousing discussions, even rumbustious ones, including some robust exchanges of views (for which, read “arguments”), but in the end we are only two people who have spent so long together now that we can read each other’s thoughts. It’s like talking to yourself.


Contentment, if we can only recognise it, is a wonderful gift. My batteries feel recharged, after a virtual soak in a hot bath for the soul.

I wish you bubbles and candlelight and clean, soapy goodness, real or virtual (or both) as you prefer.


NaNoWriMo day 24 – looking back in lists

Just ticking off the words: 49,891 so far. Or as NaNoWriMo would say, “Words Remaining 109; Words Per Day To Finish On Time 19”. That looks achievable.

Anyway, I have another 10k in hand from pre-November, and as I mentioned previously, I don’t care about word count per se. I just don’t like to give false impressions to those who take the challenge properly. After all, I reckon both “The Uncommon Reader” and “War and Peace” count as published literature, even if one is a novella and the other is a doorstop.

Yesterday was a day for ticking things off a list.

My first job, as I indicated yesterday , was to upload my posts, and to read the blogs I follow (thank you all for being so lovely and warm and witty and inspiring!). I had shoddy Internet connectivity all morning until I gave in and switched the router off and on again. Sometimes it’s best to get back to basics, unless you are a politician, in which case you are an idiot. (Although that’s an oxymoron.) My interpretation of back to basics is that you start with solid foundations and build up from there. In political terms it appears to mean leaving vulnerable people to die in the gutter and sending single mothers to asylums or condoning the casual wife beater because he uses a stick no wider than his thumb.

Anyway, moving on…it would seem the technotroubles have left me a little irritable this morning. I haven’t had my coffee yet, either, although the smell of it brewing is soothing me slightly. Lord, give me patience, right now!

Back to the list then. Sigoth spent the day putting up long-awaited shelves in the bedroom alcove. Admittedly that was his list, but a list is a list. He’s such a treasure. I think part of the reason was to leave me to get on with this alleged novel. He has plans for one himself, so hopefully he will make a start on it soon. We keep talking about the plot but it’s a bit tricky. We agree it might be better as a series of related short stories, but Sigoth likes to have everything ready before starting, whereas I charge in like a bull in a china shop and just write any old rubbish.

I admit, but only to you, dear friends (ssh, don’t tell Sigoth), that he has a point. Although I wrote 3344 words yesterday in a sort of edit mode, I spent too long doing it because I was trying to sequence everything. I wrote minus-822 words at one point after I slashed a section in a frenzy of self-criticism. That was largely caused by not writing in order. It doesn’t help that there are lots of flashbacks either – at what point do I introduce them to the reader? At this point it mat help to imagine EBL clutching her head in mortal anguish.

In real life I am a project manager. I do plans and contingencies and risks and deadlines for my actual paid living. It’s true. Not only that, I do it pretty well most of the time. I manage IT projects to time, quality and budget. I should have a medal.

EBL, wait to edit later. This is still November! Patience, cherie.

I also realised I need to learn Spanish. Either that or I have to relocate part of the story from the Spanish civil war to the Germans walking into Paris, as I do have sufficient French and, indeed, German. It puts me out by a few years but might be better. The actual conflict is less important than the fact it was a conflict, if that makes sense. I just need trauma, people!

So, lists. I wish you wouldn’t keep distracting me…

The next thing to tick off was changing the bed and washing the sheets, which I accomplished with aplomb and grace, as always.

The rest of the list included things like washing up, dusting and hoovering, and sorting out the linen cupboard. Not so successful, in that they didn’t happen at all. It is generally understood that artists have to suffer for their art, so I have to manage to cope with a dusty house and chaotic linen cupboard. I’m being brave about it; I knew the risks when I started this job. Plus the house is always dusty but now I have an excuse. You can’t argue with Art. She always wins. (Unless you are a politician – see above.)

And finally, as the Two Ronnies would say, a glass of wine, Sarah Lund, knitwear and adrenaline. Some things are sacrosanct.

Tak for læsning.


NaNoWriMo Day 23 – looking back in techno-rage

I feel like apologising for the delay in posting the last post (because I know you can’t start your day without a healthy dose of EBL Goodness). Then I realised it really was not my fault. However, I have a confession to make before I go any further: my name is EBL, and I have been working in Information Technology for 25 years.

Technology, don’t you just love it?

Yesterday (Day 23 to those in NaNoWriMoLand) I travelled for work. I carried my trusty netbook and planned to scribe on the train. I entrained and scribed. When I got home that night I prepared to lock onto WordPress and load the scribing. My netbook was of a different opinion.

Technology, don’t you just love the way it gives you cheek?

I expressed my displeasure. You may have heard me? Certainly I got complaints from Switzerland, but they are a bit like that sometimes.

Initially the fault appeared to lie, as it so often does, not in the stars but in Chrome, which is the browser I use on the netbook. I installed it in order to try it out and keep it in order to remind myself why I prefer Firefox. It’s a personal choice, don’t judge me. Then I noticed the dreaded icon indicating that a Windows update was in the midst of hogging my system. No chance of even writing anything with that little piggy rampaging through my resources.

Well, my dears, it was Friday night. Sigoth arrived home a little after me. We indulge in our Friday ritual of Radio 4 and tea on our laps. We opened a bottle of wine, and I decided I would upload the post first thing in the morning via my trusty old laptop. The one with Firefox, and the latest windows update already painfully installed.

Up with the lark this morning. The lark in question is living in a time zone in the mid-Atlantic, so not very early, but the thought was there as I snuggled under the Blanket of Inspiration. It’s a cold, misty morning here, although it could be so much worse as those who live in the south-west are aware.

“Good morning, trusty laptop,” I carolled cheerfully, even larkily. “Let’s get to NaNoWriMo, and don’t spare the horses!”

Trusty Laptop struggled into life. She is becoming quite elderly these days, by which I mean 3 years old. I’m not sure how computer years equate to human years or even dog years, but am pretty sure she is at least over the menopause and heading for a pension. Some of her pixels are looking a bit grey and there are wrinkles on her keyboard. Or possible tea stains, I’m not entirely sure.

Finally she was ready to go, and I fired up the post for uploading. Skype moaned into life and indicated that Number One Offspring was already on-line (another lark, bless, I remember well his early years of reading in bed at three in the morning so as not to disturb us). Up came the thunderous, birdy email and up came the browser in all its fiery, foxy glory. No emails to download and web pages not available.

Excuse me?

Technology, eh? Don’t you just want to shake it warmly by the throat?

No errors of course. Connection all OK, Skype was running fine; as it to emphasise it another contact pinged on-line.

So…connected to t’Interweb, but no web or email. To use the current idiom, WTF (it means “What’s that, Firefox?”)?

Closed both web and email and restarted them. No luck.

Disconnected connection and reconnected. No luck.

The techie in me shuddered to consider having to switch it off and on again. That’s for n00bs, don’cha know?

Technology, the best way to fill your day with pointless activity ever invented.

I did close and restart the programs again, since I had reset the connection, and this time it worked. So I managed to upload yesterday’s post.

Success was predicated on following the usual, well-known technology problem-solving process, described here. If you ever (I mean, when you ever..) have a computer problem, this will work.

In other shock news, pens and paper are still an effective means of writing down words.


NaNoWriMo Day 22 – looking back in distraction

It was a quiet day at EBL Towers, so obviously I was going to make great strides both at work and in my writing. Yeah, right.

I suffered that syndrome known far and wide, that leaves us weak in its power to prevent us from achieving more than a fleeting moment of partial success. I did manage to achieve agreement over a particular question in a meeting. Whoop. Hang out the bunting. The Eagle, as they say, has landed!

With all the resources at my disposal, a clear run at a major task that had been hanging over me, and a firm instruction to colleagues regarding the advisability of interruptions, I failed significantly to even open the document I had to work on. First I caught up on the backlog of emails. Then I tidied up some folders. I did open a completely different document and faff about with that. Then it was nearly time for a booked call so not worth starting if I was going to have to stop. Plus the birds on the bird feeder were so cute.

All in all, I only managed to force myself to start work on the thing at midday, and edited about two paragraphs before I was genuinely interrupted with a proper problem.

Those hours, my dears, are lost and gone forever, and I have nothing to show for them, except some fond memories of the birds on the feeder, and worrying that the ash tree we were going to cut down ought to be left in case it is one of the minority immune to Ash Die Back. I am old enough to remember Dutch Elm Disease. I don’t want to see it all over again, although apparently no one is going to ask me. I know, I was as shocked as you!

On the subject of elms, when I was little I went to visit the undertaker. Our next door neighbour worked there, and we were doing a project about trees at school so I thought I would go and ask him what they used to make the coffins.

“Elm,” he said and took me and my friend into the workshop where they made them. It was great! The smell of wood shavings and lots of beautiful, carefully made, lovingly and respectfully made, caskets with gleaming polished surfaces and gleaming polished brass handles and adornments. I found it profoundly satisfying.

When Dutch Elm Disease devastated the nation a year or two later, I was very concerned about how people would be buried, having lost my grandmother the year before and being of a naturally morbid frame of mind. Mr B reassured me that they could use other wood, so that was alright and I found other things to worry about.

See how easily I am distracted? Yesterday was like that all day.

I did write in the evening, upstairs in my lovely new office. Sigoth wanted to watch television after a hard day down the treacle mines, so I left him to it, and we caught up over a cup of tea when the programme was over and I had crafted 1775 words. Hard graft it was, because as I mentioned previously, I am now in edit mode rather than full blown outpourings. So more distraction as I realise that someone’s jumper has inexplicable changed into a duffle coat, or whatever.

I hope your own outpourings are free and untrammelled, and you bestride the page like mighty colossi.