Friday, 15 November 2013

A stillness filled me...

...bitterness lifted from me.

It's a line from Brian Patten, and it's bitterness that I've been thinking about at the moment, but not so much I want the word in my post title, because it's a horrible word and a pretty horrible sensation.

It's just occurred to me that I hold myself back with being bitter. It creeps in when I'm not looking and it's invidious, it shades the way I think about so much. Well, I think, when I see someone doing things I wish I was doing, it's ok for her, she has childcare, or her children are older, or her children sleep. When I look at the craft bloggers that I so love to read, I'm filled with an unpleasant envy, same with all the people who write, who talk about getting up early and doing morning pages, and spending their evenings honing their craft. Not fair, I want to shout, they've obviously got rich husbands or private means, they're not like me, they obviously don't need to earn a living. Poor poor Helen spends all her free time doing "real" work, moneywork, earning a living, being an adult, having responsibilities, and it's so unfair that "they" have the chance to do interesting things, explore their skills, do real creative work, etc. What's more, poor Helen never gets a decent night's sleep, and if she got up early to do things then the child would wake and howl, and so on.

This stuff is, to some extent, true: I do have an awful lot of claims on my time right now, in this season of my life. But, I could still find spaces for things that aren't paid work, and I could still dream about the things I'll do once I have a little more time, and there's no point at all now in being bad tempered about the way that things are. I didn't marry a banker, and he wouldn't be the man I'd wanted to marry if he was the all-hours type; I did birth a high-maintenance child, and am parenting him in a high-maintenance way, but there's nothing to do with that other than suck it up.

Also time does bend and flex, when you really want it to, and if I let go of thinking that it can't, then it might. When my Booker books came I'd probably read only one or two novels in the previous three months, then I hammered through five of them in a couple of weeks, because I was loving them, and I had a target, and so I found the time, I eked and scraped it, and it was there. (Now, number six, the one that in a travesty ended up winning, I still haven't got through, which tells you all you need to know about how you're much better at making time when it's for something you like).

Realistically we do need an income, and that's going to be from me, so it would be really unwise to pack in the accounting and try to making a living from selling unfinished crochet pieces, but I can still man up a bit about the rest of it.

(It's a very sad poem, by the way, called On time for once, as beautiful as all of his love poems, but not actually relevant to the post apart from those lines, just for the avoidance of doubt).


  1. It's always easier to think of the things we haven't got, rather than the things we have.

    I think creativity is less to do with time, and more to do with energy. Of course the two are symbiotically related, but one doesn't necessarily follow the other. But your experience with the Booker books demonstrates the point.

    I love this post. The honesty of it. I think recognising bitter tendencies is the first step to changing them. And then (as my grandmother would have said), you have to count your blessings - attitude of gratitude, and all that.

  2. 'It's just occurred to me that I hold myself back with being bitter.'

    That's an incredibly brave thing to write.

    The great thing though is that you are reflecting on this and drawing conclusions... Yes, there is nearly always a *little* time to do something that you really want to do - you have discovered this - no matter what the circumstances are. But it's definitely worth keeping things in perspective i.e. knowing that in this season of your life time for creativity will be pared back, so it's important to look on your small bursts of creativity with a generous heart - being wholly generous to yourself.

    Comparing ourselves to others is a very human trait. It can be useful though - it helps us to strive for things, and also helps us to be grateful about other things. It's merely about keeping things in balance and perspective. Nearly everyone has some 'thing' going on in their lives which means that they have challenges to overcome so sometimes it's about seeing the back story of another's life and empathising... and knowing that what you see on the old 'tinternet' is mostly about what people want you to see. Some folks blogs are stunningly beautiful... but that doesn't mean that their lives are necessarily like this. Though I'm sure most of us present 'the best' face we can for most of the time. It's probably natural for us to do so.

    I also love this quote from Garen Ewing: 'Everyone thinks there's a clique and that they're not in it.'

    Whenever I feel a bit disheartened I read this page. Very encouraging :-)

    Keep going, and please, please, please don't hold yourself back. Keep on creating, in however small a burst, and in time they will all mount up :-)