Vicious circle

I’m coming undone, it seems at the seams.

A thousand things in my head, half of which should be got down on paper and I can’t keep up with them.    The other half are things I need to do; some general, more tangiable day-to-day admin that I’m not getting on top of, some others are more important, requiring concentration, dedication and application.  Unfortunately I’m not giving much of any of those.  Why?  Because my insomnia has come back and bit me on the ass.  My creativity bubble is being squeezed by the weight of sleep loss.  The less I sleep the less I do and the less I do the more of a concern it becomes and the more of a concern it becomes the less I sleep.  And the pedal on the bike makes a full turn.  And the chain falls off so the bike can go nowhere.

Will the circle be unbroken?

 

The morning mission

I heard the mission bell; it sounded like a cell phone ringing, or beeping, or buzzing.  I was on the bus last week.  I use it regularly in winter because two wheels, motorised and un, freeze me slowly.  The walk to the bus-stop clears the lungs and head, at least it does until I step on the bus.

Twenty people on the bus, heads at 90°, texting, Whatsapping, emailing, surfing; whatever they’re doing.  That’s OK, free country and who am I to care?  So I whipped out my notebook and ever-present 2H pencil and started writing.  The noise of lead scratching paper could have been one of H.G. Wells’ Martians yelling “Ulla!” the noise was so alien.

In front of me a head righted itself and probably swum from finding itself in a hitherto unknown position.  To the side of me fingers stopped doing whatever they were doing and someone who could have exited the bendy-bus at the other door decided to walk past, catching a snide glance at my activity.  Fairly bloody surreal for an 8.00am bus ride.

So, I decided I had a mission, not impossible and not even difficult but a mission nonetheless.  Every morning or evening or both, I would write a poem.  Chances are it may not be a very good one but a poem it would be.  Today’s one went OK, at least I liked it and that matters more than anything else, and it goes a little like this:

Hours

The hours slip through time,

as time seeps through the hours;

flowers

mark the beginning

and the end of time

Celebration of life and death

Eyes open for the first time

or close for the last

and tears tear the heart

But now life grows

and time never slows

But seeps through the hours.

The writer who forgot how to write

It could be the title of a book, albeit a not very inspiring one. It could but it’s not, it’s a reflection of someone, somewhere. It’s a reflection of me, looking back at me from the glass with shadow-circled eyes and skin paling in the fresh autumn breeze as the rain falls while the leaves take their time to turn from green to brown and the summer (what summer?) looks around, sighs and departs.

It seems a long time since I wrote anything ‘creative’, and by that I mean fiction, my first writing love. I looked in my diary and saw the last entry almost a month ago; that is terrible! Even laying aside a brief bout of ill-health and outside stresses it’s still a long time – too long. Thi is only alleviated by the fact I’ve managed to post poetry on my writing blog since July. I would sometime use the blog to air some of my morning writing exercises, at least those that could be aired. I’ve always used those hours in the morning when I should be sleeping but can’t, to write.  Just lately, for a number of reasons, I just haven’t had that get up and go to, well, get up.  There’s a correlation between no longer writing in the morning, my most creative period, and not producing fiction.  And I have a theory:

Contrary to my fiction-writing habits, my poetry seems to take a peek behind the curtain later in the day. I feel about as disposed to write poetry in the morning as I feel disposed to go to the office… yeah, enthusiasm eh? Although the latter will change from 1st January but more of that another time. Anyway, my theory is my poetic soul picks up on the sins of the day; the tensions, arguments and darkened thoughts. Instead, the writer in me, the storyteller, likes a new white canvas, the first breath of cold, clean mountain air as he opens the window, thoughts untainted and summed up in five words.

From a jar in motion to a jarring motion

Bear with me on the title…

During the last 6 days following my last post and the reluctant concealment of my home-made pickled red cabbage jars for at least two weeks, I have to confess to feeling not quite myself.

Last Wednesday I came home early from work, sure that by the evening I would be running a fever; it didn’t happen. Looking back on it now I wish it had. Like the forest fire started by the lightning burning away the old growth to allow the new, a fever can work a treat to blast the bugs from the bod. No; this time it decided to ignore me and instead left me feeling shattered, mentally numb, unable to work (day job) and unable to work on what I like to have time to work on, which is writing.

I had about as much creative inspiration as a bunch of limp water-cress. It happens, especially when one is feeling crappy and is confined to stay at home and not infect an office full of colleagues. Ordinarily I don’t worry about it: the lack of creativity that is, not the infection of colleagues. After all, it comes and goes and I find it easier not to force it. I decided instead to turn on the computer and start researching the world of freelance copywriting; I’ve made reference to my interest in this in previous posts. However, it didn’t stop there, as soon as I started a-Googling I had all sorts of additional aspects thrown at me, such as content writing, web marketing; even, I hasten to add, HTML. HTML? It took me 10 minutes just to remember what is stands for! It does however seem to be a useful skill addition for a copywriter.

So I entered “freelance copywriting jobs” in the search bar. What a mistake that was. Suddenly a host of job auction sites flashed up at me, offering me $10 an hour in India, $15 an hour in the US, £10 an hour in the UK – My God, is this what the freelancing world has become? Are there any freelancers out there who read this blog or are reading this post (yeah, small chance I know…)?

I really enjoyed the copywriting course I took last year and I received a very positive feedback from my tutor, with whom I still in contact.I would trade dollars (or in my case Swiss Francs) for a little job satisfaction. I love the idea of freelancing;: the freedom would allow me to pursue other interests, some of which also pay (that doesn’t include selling my body…at least not yet). Teaching English, even at conversational level, is always welcome here. It would allow me to concentrate on “serious writing” also. It’s a dream to embark on a professional path which may not bring in the same wage but will give me a hell of a lot more enjoyment, challenge and sense of fulfilment. I guess the Googling, and Elnace in particular, brought me back down to Earth with a jolt.

You see, it was all in the title.

And now for something completely different: A little rap and pickle…

I’ve never been a woman, at least not in this life, so it stands to reason I’ve never been pregnant.  I do however currently nurse a craving, a food craving.  Nothing so severe as Whiskas on toast on a bed of Marmite but a craving none the less.  Pickled red cabbage.  Yep, mainstay of many an English Christmas larder.  Larder? I haven’t used that word since I was about 15… Anyway, it’s now mid September and I have this craving – pickled red cabbage with Cheddar cheese.  So what? you reply.  Go to the supermarket and buy some.  Ha!  Too simple, this is Switzerland and I can’t find any.  Anyway, what I actually want is that my Mum made years ago.  So, following a week of this craving I decided to make some…yes, you read me right, make some!

Actually it was a spur of the moment thing.  I saw the cabbage in the supermarket, thought about it for a few seconds, put it in the trolley then went in search for vinegar.  That’s another thing, I can’t buy malt vinegar for love nor money, although if truth be told I’ve only ever tried with money, so I bought wine inegar instead.  Then I thought about spicing said vinegar, and after visiting 48,324 different websites came up with the answer.  And so it began.

I'd love a shirt this colour!
I’d love a shirt this colour!

On Monday, I chopped the cabbage, laid it in a bowl and smothered it with salt and left it 24 hours.  Tuesday came round, I rinsed it well and let it drain while I prepared my spices – whole peppercorns, cloves, dried chili, bay leaves and fennel – just that which I found at the back of the cupboard.  Cutting up an old, clean tea-towel I laid the spices inside, tied itup and laid it in the now-simmering vinegar for five minutes before taking the latter off the heat, leaving the spices in and putting it out on the balcony to cool.  Then the jar sterilisation; jars in the oven at 150 degrees for 10 minutes while boiling the lids for the same amount of time.

Spice is nice
Spice is nice

With both the jars and vinegar now cool, I initiated my first pickling, ever.  Here is the result.  I’ve never been a woman, hence I’ve never been pregnant, but I can’t wait for these babies…

The babies!

The babies!

Tinkerer (n.) – Derivative of tinker

This evening I have been tinkering with this blog; changing theme, colours, title, even inserting the photo on the home page.  I tinkered, therefore I am a tinkerer.  I could have fiddled with this blog, in fact I probably did, except being a fiddler, even one on the roof, doesn’t have the same innocent charm of the tinkerer.  I guess I could have played with my blog, but would that then make me a player?

So why have I done this, especially on a Friday night?  Simply because, as I mentioned in my last post, I have plans for this blog to possibly include work-related writing, such as an eventual copywriting portfolio, instead of using it as a simple link to my writing site and, let’s be honest, that blue was fairly horrendous.  It was way too gloomy, bordering on aphotic and with a background design that seemed to lend itself to the posting of some of history’s darker fairy tales.  I hope the new look doesn’t scare people off but I guess I’ll find out when I post…

Ah yes, Friday night.  Well, I’ll put my hand up and admit that I had an extremely late one last night and I am beat/bushed/done/knackered/tired/feel free to insert your own adjective.

So, for this evening the tired tinkerer bids you good night, happy his blog turned from blue to white.

 

 

 

At the crossroads but I’m no Robert Johnson

The endless non-summer that has crawled its way across central Europe since June has now decided it would add some much needed spice by…becoming colder.  What?  What has happened to the weather?  It’s not just me; even the weather apps have given up predicting what the day’s going to turn out like.  Last week I looked at the window watching the rain, while my weather app told me no rain was forecast and it was apparently 27° C.  How many billions of $ / £ / € worth of weather-predicting space hardware is flying around in orbit?  Have things really improved since Farmer Giles put on his wellies, stuck his finger in some orifice or other, turned to the wind and predicted snow on Thursday?

Anyway, that’s not my point.  My point is the autumn is now almost upon us and I have itchy feeet, or rather hands, thinking about the long, cold, dark days of winter and what I could be doing with them (the days, not the hands).  Last year I attempted NaNoWriMo but this year I want something different, something I can get my teeth into and with a commercial slant.  I want change!

Yes, I have reached the crossroads.  I see no-one to whom I can sell my soul for a few years of playing wicked bottleneck guitar and whiskey drinking, so I think I’m going to start getting my head back round the idea of copywriting.

Last year I took a course you see, then this year I had a little success with my creative writing and I left the copywriting on the backburner whilst my poetry was presented, an article was sold and a short story competition won; however, my muse sometimes appears on my desk, kicking a pencil-sharpener, and looking at me as he turns out his empty pockets.  He’s right, wanting to be Hemingway doesn’t pay the bills and I really could use the excitement, hard graft and, ultimately, satisfaction of producing work for others.  I know I can do it, in fact I’ve done it, but gratis.  I even have a portfolio of sorts and I have discovered an all-consuming drive within me for a change where I can start making a difference for ME, yes, ME.

Now another crossroad:  should I dedicate this blog to my intended activity or start afresh, with a brand new one?  If I use this then I guess I’ll have to remove the poetry and flash fiction pieces, which is OK as they have their own blog anyway.  Ah!  Decisions.

 

The necessity of creativity

The necessity of creativity and how we find it. Creativity is spontaneous and comes naturally and it is effected by the environment in which it finds itself. Some people thrive on turmoil and chaos whilst others require peace I their lives, a stable base upon which to build something. I’ve decided I fall into the latter. Much of what I write is done in those early morning, pre-dawning hours when I should be asleep but can’t. I’ve had my 4 hours or whatever and I lie awake, feeling the pillow become warmer and warmer, then having to turn it over and lay my face on its cool cotton whilst a team of chimps start chattering and climbing about inside my head. I can do nothing except get up; get up and write or sometimes read. I just can’t lay there with my head awhir, brain in overdrive and thoughts good and bad, positive and negative, circle and crash into each other, like 10 year olds in bumper cars.
Peace in my life: that’s the one. Upon reflection, insomnia may not appear to be a peaceful, stable base and, to some extent it isn’t because it becomes host to other problems which manifest themselves later on. However, the tranquillity of a silent flat in a small, silent block down a narrow silent street at 4.30am brings a peace of its own. The thunderstorm and lashing rain of two hours ago have decided to come back.
As I lie awake and listened to the crashing rain I thought of the plants on the balcony; the hardy rosemary, which hates excessive water but this ‘summer’ shows no let up. The delicate Venus fly trap, the only thing he’s catching is probably a cold. The young, reaching olive tree yearning for the sun. If these meteorological conditions occur (and they do) while I’m in the office I just shrug and don’t give it a second thought. This morning in my wakefulness I tried to come up with a plan for recovering them from the teeming torrents of water, and only the fact that I would have got soaked doing so stopped me.
So, back to the chaos or tranquillity question, even though it wasn’t a question.
Insomnia creates chaos in my head, there’s no denying that. It kick-starts the engine of my early morning and keeps revving, whether I want it or not. If it’s feeling generous it will sometimes turn off again whilst other times I need to let the clutch out and take it for a spin. It can and does causes problems later when I should be facing the day with enthusiasm and instead I’m sat, yawning, feeling bags delate beneath my eyes. However, this same insomnia leads me by the hand from my bed to my studio next door, where peace, the true, unblemished silence, is broken only by the scratching of my Caran d’Ache 2H pencil.
We could take this down to a completely new level and discuss the intricacies of what lie at the heart of every insomniac’s problem: however that isn’t for now or this page. A this moment in time my head is full of the consequences of a self-inflicted chaos I’ve brought into my life and now must deal with.
The necessity of creativity. We all have it but sometimes life pushes it out onto the balcony in the rain to be replaced by other urgencies which need to be kept warm and dry.

It’s that time again…

Yes, November around the corner.  Get Hallowe’en, or possibly the Hallpwe’en party out of your system and the very next day… NaNoWriMo starts again.  After last year’s first and (to some extent) failed attempt, in addition to current commitments, I’ve been intent on ignoring it this year.  In fact until last weekend I was convinced I’d pay it no attention; but…

But I have a story which I’ve been working on and it looks destined for the trash bin – it’s going nowhere and when it starts becoming a stone around your neck you have to think twice about investing time and effort into it.  However, thanks to some positive input from a friend, I’ve decided that the idea itself isn’t a bad one – I just cocked-up on how it was presented.  It needs a back-to-the-bare-bones rewrite, a complete rewrite, which after 12,000 words doesn’t make me the happiest bunny in the warren but still… Anyway, NaNoWriMo could be a darned good excuse to do such a rewrite, because it will be a new novel – the only thing I’d have kept is the idea behind it.  Characters, settings etc. will all be new – they HAVE to be new, as it is not working in its current form.

So; stuck for ideas for the first of November?  Dig out your skeletons on Hallowe’en and try to put some meat on those bones.