I am trying to decide on the right word for what I want to do – but there is a nick on the little finger of my left hand that bleeps a small hurt every time it hits the keyboard. How to bring random things like that into the picture is, of course, what it’s all about, just as it’s all about coming to the virgin (increasingly keyboard) page without a clear, or any, idea of what one wants to say. The nick on my finger is getting in the way of writing. Life itself gets in the way of writing but on the other hand, “the grave’s a fine and private place, but none, I think, do there embrace” or bash out their novels (sorry, Marvell). So I’m paring down or reducing (which word, which word?) so as to be able to do it now while I’m still, in my fashion, tickety boo. Ideally my day would begin early with a cup of mint tea or glass of fruit juice followed by a brisk walk on one of the many lovely parts of the forest I live right next to, a few hundred words bashed out before a nice breakfast of, say, boiled egg and marmite soldiers (it’s all in the details folks) or just fruit and perfect americano coffee with hot milk. After this I’d bash out another thousand or so words before a light lunch of yellow pepper and courgette soup (it’s a new recipe I was recently given) or Caesar salad (and don’t ask me who prepares these bonne bouches, it’s a fantasy, ok?) and the afternoon would be given over to catching up on reading, correspondence, small household tasks (if I must) editing and, the occasional taking of tea with a similarly-engaged acquaintance, more writing plus cultural pursuits and an exquisitely prepared dinner (Moroccan lamb and couscous?) and wine in the evening.
I think a new paragraph is in order so as to bring myself back. I think I’ve said this before: it takes me most of the morning to incarnate into the day at all or, if I get up early, consequences will make themselves felt later. I am trying to remember how on earth I managed to do all the writing I did when the children were small and I was so ill. Certainly there were times when I simply took pills and managed to override, something I wouldn’t manage now, and I wasn’t able to keep it up. Now I have let go of almost everything that might get in the way. Someone else, a writing friend, is taking over the classes I was to have taught this year which is good for her and for me, though it does feel strange to let go so completely of something that I gave myself to for many years.
Reducing is the right word, I think. It’s what you do to a sauce when you want to intensify the flavour and make it more substantial. I need shoes - my old Birkenstocks have needed replacing for two years. I need underwear – my bras have lost their elasticity. I’ll see to these and other essentials, but clothes will do for another few years, I’ve worn the same two pairs of thin trousers for most of the summer, alternating, and my purple shell suit trousers await the colder weather. I have a poetry café to attend to on Friday, Ros Barber (of Shallowlands) being the invited poet but this kind of activity is of the essence and essential to me.
I am boiling off the excess and am already, though I say it myself, very tasty. And I've stuck a plaster on the finger.