Friday, August 31, 2007

New Leaf

You know that feeling when there is an itch and you would scratch it if you could only locate it; nothing serious, you just can’t concentrate on anything else until you’ve found it. Or, as one of Charles Dickens’ ladies of a certain age (but I can’t remember which one) remarked: there is a pain somewhere in the room, if only I could find where it is – or words to that effect. There is something skewed, and it surely isn’t to do with the apples that have passed their prime and are dropping to the ground in disconsolate fashion and then just lying there waiting for the worms, or me to gather them into harvest home. And it surely isn’t to do with the the season’s turning and the nights coming on us, it seems to me, unseasonably early. Go to, in any case, and read your Manley Hopkins, or at least Spring and Fall – no, no, I am autumn’s child and do not suffer from seasonal affective disorder – unless – but no, this isn’t that. I am, though, it has to be said, uneasy. I make a mental checklist:

Kids’medical and dental things being sorted.
Cat – ditto.
My health as usual and certainly not the worst for which one is always thankful.
Him Outdoors’ work situation ditto.
Finances – obviously overspending but ostrich mode ok for now.
House – might have another stab at selling the old girl.
Extended family – nothing particularly nasty brewing (or at least nothing new) in the dysfunctional quarter, though one musn’t get complacent.
Writing – ouch, oh.

I haven’t done any since before Edinburgh and it is like playing a musical instrument or dancing or anything that requires you to turn up and do the thing regularly; the days, hours and minutes begin to stack up and turn against you. I offer no coy excuses about not being able to get down to it – there are, as always, practical reasons why not and these have to do, as usual, with available energy. I have also, since my return, been experimenting with walks, seeing what happens if I take myself on a more demanding than usual stretch. I know from experience that this is a complicated negotiation with no clear victory and damned if I do or if I don’t – but I am driven to try following a period where I have walked more than usual with no long-term (for the moment at least) bad effects. Trouble is if I do that, the energy ration is used up. Added to this, I have been doing some proper cooking again. This kind of thing really falls away when I am at all focussed on writing. I could never quite bring myself to kill the angel in the house, though that is, as Virginia Woolf said, one of the tasks of a woman writer. But I’ve never been much of a domestic angel. Cooking, though, is something I do that belongs to me in a way that other domestic tasks do not. It’s something I do well that I can offer and enjoy at the same time. Yesterday I made ratatouille, the slow-cook way. Today I will make lamb curry and tarka dhall with cucumber and onion raita. The apples that “ben ripe in my gardayne” are asking me to make a crumble or a pie tomorrow, perhaps.

And the words and stories, dear reader, press on me with purposeful intent. Quia amore langueo. Begin again, as always, a new leaf.


Anonymous said...

Is that itch the writing itch? The less practical and more creative itch (be it writing or cooking)?

"Begin again, as always" seems so like Beckett to me. Beautiful and poignant

Hope you are smiling, good Signs. Have a great weekend.

Kahless said...

Hello Signs,
Aaah, I have a stack of tomatoes which are piled up in my kitchen asking for a soup to be made. It will be lovely when it is made, but unfortunately the time it will take to prepare.
Unfortunately it didn't itch me until I read your post!

btw, in answer to your comment, I hate lists of that nature, but I felt obliged.

Reading the Signs said...

Off and on, David, off and on (smiling, that is). Have just polished off the curry.

Homegrown tomatoes, Kahless? I think I can hear them calling from here.
Re lists: I'm thinking of inventing the worst one ever to pass around.

Kahless said...

Go on Signs do that. I think it would be delightful to see what the response would be. Tag me do.

That's so pants said...

Dearest Signs

When you write like this you could be in my head. I KNOW you will do it and it will take as long as it takes for you to finish what you will most certainly achieve.

"I think there's a pain somewhere in the room,' said Mrs. Gradgrind, 'but I couldn't positively say that I have got it.'"

It's from Hard Times - but you knew that, didn't you?



Reading the Signs said...

Dear Pants, do you walk around with whole books in your head? You do, don't you? Yes, of course I did know it was from Hard Times. I just forgot I knew (thank you). It's gorgeous, I will commit it to memory.

cusp said...

This all sounds vey plumptuous and my mouth is begining to water.

I always think that one creative task leads to another (one creative act or meander doesn't necessarily preclude another) so if cooking is another forte of yours then go about the kitchen with confidence and pride and whilst your peeling, coring, chopping, stirring other things may be brewing on your mental back-burner.

Season of mellow fruitfulness...and all that...

Reading the Signs said...

Hi Cusp, even this, though, falls away when I am really into the writing. It's as though all the substance has to go into that. Which is why it's been so hard to get the writing done, I suppose. Had another cookathon yesterday (cheese pudding for lunch, shepher'd pie for supper - for the record)- it's as though I'm cramming it in before the next drought.

Dr. L said...

As an Artist Way member might ask...are you doing all the cooking and lovely stuff (can I come for dinner) to avoid writing...? As you may know, I have the habit of cleaning my house meticulously instead of writing, this past Sunday is a good example, but it did look great after all that cleaning!

Reading the Signs said...

Dear Dr. L - the answer is complex, complex and I think an expert such as yourself may be the only one who can help remedy the situation - I don't like the sound of all that cleaning though (fancy doing some at my place? yes, come to dinner).