1. New friends
I’ve spent the day in the company of four fascinating people. I should know them pretty well already but I think it’s only today that I really got to understand them; where they are coming from, what makes them tick and why, what they are thinking, how they speak. I dedicated my entire working day today to the four main characters in my book. And now, I am happy that I’ve got their story right but I need to go back to the beginning again, let them take over my heads and tell it their way. There is a lot I haven’t given them the space to show about their world.
I have two novels ‘on the go’ so to speak. The one I’m working on now and another that I scribble notes and the odd scent to when they come to me. This current novel, ‘Something Precious Inside’ is about a world I know so so well and tells a story that is drawn very heavily on our own and on those stories ours has collided and merged with in hospital. In that sense, it is really easy to write. It should be flying off the keypad. After all, they say write what you know! But, until today, I struggled with it so much and now I know why. Because I know it so well, I was writing it far too much as me. When I look at sections I have written for my next novel the writing seems so much more alive, daring and ‘zingy.’ The reason is clear. That story is character driven. It came to me when I was doing a writing exercise based on a postcard of a painting I saw in an exhibition at Tate Modern. The character became so alive that I knew I had to tell her story. I don’t even know how that story will go yet. When I write that one, I let her take over and lead me. With ‘Something Precious Inside’ it was the other way round. I had a story and almost went about casting it. It was my story though, the characters I created were the vehicles. I realised I needed to do some more work on them and it was then I discovered that I had told it all wrong. I had my main heroine, Tess, almost 90% right but her best friend, Gill, just wouldn’t do some of the things she does in the opening chapter. I think I got to know them and their relationship later on, when I wrote scenes such as the bonfire night one, and that’s what prompted me to spend the day getting to know them. Now, as soon as I have finished writing here, I’m going back to the start and giving them the space to set off on their journey through the backbone of the story I have created for the, There are a few crossroads where they have some options and I can’t wait to see which direction they will chose.
It feels like a massive hurdle has been overcome and this book should really flow now. It is certainly going to be a lot easy sitting down to the laptop to write now I’ve got some new friends to hang out with while I’m there.
2. Being mum...to you
Today’s ‘Write Your Freakin’ Heart (and Guts) Out journal prompt really got me thinking. It was all about self-love and knowing what your own needs are and how to meet them. Being your own mother really. I have a wonderful mum and we would love to be able to support each other more. Sadly, at times when we need each other the most we are kept apart. William has his health challenges and care needs and my dad also has a lot of his own. It is impossible for either of us to leave home without them for more than a few hours and we don’t live in the same city. We are hoping we’ll spend some time together over Christmas but there have also been infection risks in the past as well. We know that there will come a time when we can get together freely and easily but this will be when we have been through these times when I could really do with mummy and she needs her grown up daughter. I so often envy those who have families in the same town and can pop over for Sunday lunch and a bottle of wine of an evening. Even more wonderful would be to share special days and family days out, even holidays. All of these things involves such plans of military levels for us both to do for ourselves, let alone to co-ordinate.
I guess, at times like these, we do have to be our own mother. It’s so easy to invest all our time, energy and resources to our children and then get so worn out we are just stressed and ragged. This is exactly what my dear friend said to me on that fateful ‘tantrums, tears and brandy night,’ exactly what started me on this journey and this blog. It is exactly what Eat, Pray, Love is all about too and what inspired me so much at the start, when my friend suggested that I surround myself with positive things and stop watching things like EastEnders (which, incidentally, I have kept up with for these 31 days now - not a single moment of EastEnders or anything like it, just positive, inspiring books, films and TV…)
It may have seemed a little self-indulgent to me some time ago but, you know what, life is so much better here for everyone, not just me. Taking that time out to think about what I need, as well as what everyone else needs, and how I need to go about getting these things, has made me a much calmer and more balanced individual to be around. I used to say the words ‘I’m so stressed’ or ‘I’m so tired’ so often, They were my mantras. I’ve learned a lot about mantras recently (and will come back to that in a post soon). Repeating words influences your mind set. If you keep saying ‘I’m stressed’ then, guess what…? I have replaced all of this with positive thoughts and manifestations and, of course, the mantra I was given by my guru, Amma, which I chant daily. All of this is already leading to me being a lot more calm and in turn, able to cope with the things we are facing in a much more level headed way. I was a bit stressed on Sunday. As we were out on Saturday, and after a busy week before then, I hadn’t tidied and cleaned so the house was a bomb site, William had loads of homework we needed to do together, I had things I needed to do…and I was beginning to feel overwhelmed again. I started uttering those words again and everything unravelled. I started to panic again about the transplant call, saying I wasn’t physically ready again and all the things that were organised ready to pick up had been dispersed, I got moody… But what was really encouraging was that everyone noticed. Everyone said I needed to go and chill and calm down again. Before, it would have just been me, what the family had come to expect but, on Sunday, they all realised I was not behaving the way I have been. They didn’t like ‘stressed mummy’ and didn’t want her to come back. So, recognising and looking after our own needs is important, not just for us, but for everyone. We need to be mum to ourselves sometimes because that makes us a better mum to everyone else - our own children and everyone else in the world we care about.
3. Getting High on Jazz
“sit or lie but make yourself comfortable, and relax
to get the most out of this
to have an experience.”
I try, but my lungs are tight and sore from the city dust.
“You can breathe jazz as if it’s the air
just let it take you over.” You say,
as you sway to the beat
and I join in, improvising to a new rhythm
my short, shallow breaths match the syncopation
and when the phrases lengthen, I let them take over
my breath rides the scales, inhaling them, deeper inside
until melody resonates in every cell