Sunday, April 19, 2009

Beavering

I have got the mother of all colds. Well at any rate, I have got a cold. For me this is a Good Sign as my bonkers immune system usually overrides such things, but not in a good way. I am glad it is there in all its manifestations today rather than yesterday.

Yesterday my first ever writing friend came for the day. We used to live around the corner from each other in Hackney and laugh about how one day we would look back and talk about how we used to live around the corner from each other. It didn’t seem quite real that time would shoot on in the way it has done and we would no longer be wheeling our babies around on Chatsworth Road, sitting in the Three Sons fish and chip shop, spending mornings drinking very strong coffee and reading out the latest of what we had been working on. Her novel is coming out in August and she is busy working on her second. I am working on how to keep my writerly head above water at all, or how to dive deep without drowning, or how to carry on driving without lights. Friend likes to draw her ideas out on very large pieces of paper and began showing me how it could be done (even though I only had A4). While I talked, she drew, scribbled and jotted, then she stuck the pieces of paper together with sellotape. It is a strange thing to see what is going round in your head set down as a visual thing, like a map with arrows pointing to where you might travel.

The daughter is beavering away at creative projects, writing a musical, son is beavering away at working towards finals (getting up at the crack of dawn), Mr. Signs is beavering away at his second career, training to be a psychotherapist, while continuing to work full time and going to art classes. Everyone who is doing anything of anything that amounts to real work is beavering, apart from Mrs. Beaver here who is trying to keep one foot in front of the other. To work creatively you have to be more than a bit obsessed with what you are doing and let the Daemon in. The Daemon is elemental, it is what it is and cares nothing about whether you have a cold, your general state of health, your domestic issues or anything other than the work at hand. If you are not able or willing to accommodate, it will bugger off and find someone else who will.

I can feel it roaring around the house, seeking entrance. Excuse me while I go and hide under the bedcovers.

23 comments:

Nicola said...

Thank you for the warning, Signs, I may have to open my door a crack.

Cusp said...

Oh yes...and that one too. I do so wish I could accomodate him but everyone and evrything else seems to have a pull on me before The One. Too often he is smothered by another personage with a similar sounding name but a different spelling.

Completely agree with Friend's visual method. I used to use it myself for articles and planning training days and manuals. Really helps to see all the musings and inner witterings out on a big page in front of you -- even better on paper than on say, a white board, (which is what some poeple use I hear) because you can cut up the paper and re-arrange

trousers said...

I'm in an uneasy relationship with the Daemon right now: he came to visit yesterday in no uncertain terms, whereas today there's been no sign whatsoever - not so much as a calling card.

Montag said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Montag said...

I always thought the Daemon was the Hound of Heaven that chased us, and it never gave up.
We might give up, but that hound kept right on tracking us, no matter what end of the world we ran to.

I don't think there is anyone else who can do the job you have to do. If I don't do it, the job goes undone.
It's like Charles Darwin and Alfred Russell Wallace: two fellows with a similar idea...yet each is different.
If no Darwin, Wallace publishes, and one job is done, but another job is left imperfect: Darwin's life.

I don't think the daemon cares whether there is a Theory of Natural Selection or Lamarckian Transmission; but it cares about the spirit of the individual.

I'm rambling, I know. Now I know why you seek the refuge of the bedcovers-sweet silent sheets and mute duvet.

Reading the Signs said...

Nicola, if you do that he (he?) will barge in without ceremony and begin to make his presence felt, just saying.

Cusp, you could pronounce his name with an "ay" sound in the middle so as to be quite clear about the distinction. On the other hand, it makes him sound a bit fay. The other personage is like Lord Voldewhatsit and we will not mention his name.

I am interested in the visual thing and wonder if it is a bit like mind-mapping but with more drawings. Is there something you'd recommend to read about the process?

Trousers, the reason he is not calling on you today is because he is too busy roaring around Signs Cottage - absolutely furious that I'm not letting him in on account of the cold.

I have decided it is a he daemon because - well it just is.

The WVLs are saying dumbuc. Thanks, guys - not.

Reading the Signs said...

Montag, you crept in (are you related, perhaps to the Daemon?) - well the Hound of Heaven that chases us is Gawd Almighty, innit? And whether Big D is of the same substance or related is a question. Some say that that Holy Spirit is anarchic and like the wild wind. It does sound like Big D, to be sure.

Kahless said...

I hope your cold doesnt weigh you down for too long.
xx.

Nicola said...

Signs, he did this four years back, making a deep-felt presence in my life. Then I slammed the door and life has been horribly dull and safe ever since. Hence my need to peep...to see if he's still about. (Montag - I find your response encouraging if challenging).

Digitalesse said...

Sorry to hear about your cold. Hope you feel better soon.

I am intrigued by your friend's collating and joining up of the various strands of thought and ideas. I've recently bought a little notebook for photo ideas but it ends up being mostly lists and one page follows the other. Very linear. The cut and paste method might yield some interesting results, even if just for the sheer fun of doing it.

Once that cold goes, I'm sure you'll be a very busy beaver with your ideas a-flowing.

Reading the Signs said...

Me too, Kahless - it's no fun at all.

Nicola, yes, that's how it is with Big D. One slams the door on him and then can't bear his absence. You might like this - Elizabeth Gilbert (author of Eat Pray Love) talking about creative process. Not sure about her book, but much of what she says in the talk resonates.

Hi Digi - this particular way of sketching out isn't linear at all, which is what I like. One needs one of those enormous Rymans pads to do it properly.

Busy is what I want to be - this cold really needs to bugger off.

Nicola said...

How strange...just this morning I picked up a copy of Gilbert's book which I found in a charity shop some months ago and had forgotten (probably because I was feeling a bit sceptical). Thanks very much for the link.
...and yet these happenings aren't so strange, are they, as you and I and others here know?

Nicola said...

And I hope you feel much better soon - that's not meant to be as postscripty as it sounds. x

nmj said...

signs, this is wonderful news about your friend in hackney's novel! sorry about your cold, i hope you don't get the cough too, it is a bastard...

Reading the Signs said...

Nicola, if the old synchronicity is kicking in again perhaps spring is really here :)

Postscripty wellwishes are ok by me, ye know - but thought appreciated.

NMJ, I haven't got the bastard cough (is that damn thing still plagueing you?), but I feel fluey and, you know, relapsey.

I've known about friend's wonderful novel for a while, but on this occasion got to see a preview copy. I'll put up a link nearer the time.

Cusp said...

Yep it is a bit like mind mapping. Can't really recommend a book cos I just made it up myself for my own uses cos I'm sorta visual, innit. Personally I used to buy rolls of lining paper (you know -- plain wallpaper for putting under the decorative stuff) and use that sideways and then cut it up and re-arrange: more space and cheaper too. Great for brainstorming. Follow your nose/instinct and you'll find your own way.

If you ARE interested in mind mapping there are even some bits of free software around so you can do it on the 'puter

http://freemind.sourceforge.net/wiki/index.php/Main_Page

trousers said...

Hi again signs, maybe we can find out whether the Daemon has a certain omnipresence about him: for he has been at mine all evening, but surely not just at mine?

He's been fantastic company ce soir anyway, I'm happy to report.

Reading the Signs said...

Thanks Cusp, I'll have a look at that. I think I'll probably get the Rymans pad - although I can see that wallpaper roll is a great idea, I think I'd be a bit overwhelmed. What a wimp I am sometimes.

Well Trousers, I suppose very little would get done if he were only able to be one place at a time, especially as some people need him to hang around long term. So is he a bit like Father Christmas - able to do extraordinary things to time so as to get to millions of people all at once? We may be back to Gawd Almighty if we're not careful.

It's funny you should say that he's been with you, though - because he stopped roaring around here some time this afternoon (fed up with me sneezing and sleeping). It makes you think.

trousers said...

*nods sagely*

zhisou said...

Get well soon Signs - sounds like a busy house, good luck with the writing thing.

Reading the Signs said...

hi Zhisou - well my kids are not actually in the house - one is beavering at uni and the other lives in London. Thanks for the good wishes.

Mim said...

"Driving without lights": talk about going into the dark! Scary, brave.

Reading the Signs said...

Hi Mim - it is brave, isn't it? Thank you.