It’s a strange thing. I bought a new diary, for this year. It’s pretty, with a green cover (my favourite colour, rich meadow grass green) and flowers on it: pink, orange, blue, white. Everyday I think: I’ll start that today. Just a few lines about what I’ve been doing, an observation of something naturey. Something Fluffhead did; or Stanley said. Just a tiny brush note of what the day had. A sip, a mouthful, a tipple. Etc. And every day so far, I have veered away and done something else. Here we are, almost half way through the month, and January is going unrecorded. Which gives me an odd set of feelings.
Firstly, it makes me feel like I am invisible and don’t exist…in that, here I am, the eternal present and all that. And yet, the past also exists – but since I have a terrible memory for a lot of things, and at the least, an often inaccurate memory, it seems that unless I bother to write things down and catch the flavour – so many many many things get lost. Pooof! Gone! Forever! And some of these things were quite nice. Worth remembering. Little moments of sensation, or tiny good thoughts or feelings.
When I impulsively made fairy cakes last weekend and used ready made icing with swirled food colouring on top – pink, yellow (using toothpick dipped in water where colour had been dropped). And small silver beads on the top of each one. I just decided it was fairy cake day. They were lopsided and decidedly imperfect (that’s the wonder of amateur home-baking), and I loved each small and nutritiously negligible mouthful. I made 10; I ate 9. Fluffhead ate half of one and then later sat on the rest and ground it into the sofa, causing a stain only equal to the likes of Pansy Cradledew’s pink (and delicious) macaroons, when she visited last year (and Fluffhead did more or less the same thing). See? Now that would be lost forever if I hadn’t just remembered it for you. I could go on to add a layer on it, and tell you I added almond essence when the recipe didn’t call for it, and I over egged it a bit so the end result was so violently vanilla and almond that Stanley could smell them from upstairs. (I do believe he was wan and sad that he couldn’t try one, but they had egg in and he’s mostly vegan. And I love baking and get annoyed that I can’t regularly make all my favourite things which are all full of the dreaded ‘chicken abortions’ as he calls them.)
The other thing not having started a diary for this year yet makes me feel is…free. I am out from under the thumb of the obsessive need to record. This need I have to organise myself into recollections that make sense, and tell a story or have a purpose in some way (and I’m too much of a lover of order to not try and find the pattern if there is one that I can find – which can lead to lots of very windy and torturous reasoning; as well, it has to be said, as some remarkably good leaps of intuition where I suddenly GET why I have been doing some cack-handed thing or other).
It’s odd too, because I have been experiencing a furious need to write this month, and I have been sitting on it. Partly because Fluffhead was sick for ages and I had no brain for anything other than feeling tired and worrying. Then there seemed to be a shite load of necessary new year admin stuffs. Then there seemed to be no babysitting appearing; and Fluffhead’s naps got really short for a while. So there was no Blackberry Juniper time available, to either get thinking on what to write, or get that writing hat-head on, or actually write anything as such. Constant interruption and constant having to get back to where I was was leeching my impetus to do anything with the hurried half hours I was getting to myself: one per day. (Which I ended up spending reading, which is never time wasted, and quickly got into, easily put down; or putting away seemingly endless laundry; or sorting out more of my clothes for that promised marathon sewing event to begin at some point in the near future. Or speaking to Fry on the phone.)
I really object to that story people often tell me, about how the massively prolific and successful Nora Roberts got her first novels written around the kitchen table, while her small child sat quietly next to her, playing...or she chased him about, with her exercise book and pencil, while writing, on a snow day. I mean, goodness! Whose child quietly plays while you try to write a novel??? I maintain this child is either fictional, or angelic in some way. Whilst Fluffhead can play by himself at a stretch, woe betide me if I try and do anything focussed – like a cat, he senses it and runs straight over and walks on it [insert whatever it is here]/ takes the book away/ wants to draw on it…if I’m at the computer, of course he wants to come and sit on my lap and also play with it. Of course, adult stuff is dead interesting. It’s why they much rather love to play with an empty milk container and lid than the presents they get for Xmas. ‘Cos they already want to be us, and be with us, and do the things we do. As Us, a lot of the time. Very nice, really, very flattering. Very unconducive to writing a novel! Or even a short story.
It’s a weird sort of rest, in a way. All this not writing; when I lie in bed at night and find myself trapped with Fluffhead’s whole body on my writing arm, so that even though I have a notebook, I can’t get to it to note down the suddenly unstoppable stream of babble that might be an ok blog entry that is piping through my head! The next day I sometimes remember what the subject was, or a couple of lines; and yet, they seem strangely tame and uninteresting and lacking the cohesion of their brothers and sisters they slide away, possibly never to return, who knows…I let them go.
I was out in the garden today and while having an argument with the worlds most outrageously overgrown and madly enthusiastic buddleia, I started writing in my head again. I had to finish the pruning before the light went down (I had started late), so that was that, I listened to myself waffle on, liked some of it, and lost the lot by the time I came back inside. (I had become distracted by the fact that though I was pruning loads off this impudent and ambitious shrub-tree-world-dominating-base-camp, there was still absolutely loads of it left, and that I didn’t seem to be having any effect on its [plus seven foot] height whatsoever, despite many big branches coming off. And the worry of bugs dropping in my hair. And worrying that I was hurting the tree with my inexpert ministrations and giving it the world’s most painful haircut. I kept apologizing to it for my ripping off of the small branches that wouldn’t come off with the secateurs. And thinking I need one of those hedge trimmer saw things. Turns out, that while I am not terribly good, thus far, at growing and tending to stuffs in the garden, I am good at tidying it and trying to make it orderly and ready for the next phase etc. Good to know I have some sort of aptitude to start off with, since last years herbs and flowers almost to a one died a death of excessive infestation with thick black aphids…)
So whilst I am actually wanting to write – stories aren’t coming, and neither are characters, at the moment, but scenes and conversations keep appearing, as do nearly blog entries (about allsorts of inconsequential poodle, so you haven’t missed anything massive here) – these things keep getting lost.
Hence I thought, today, I would sit here, with my half gloves on, and four sweaters, in my room where my breath frosts on the air (I dare not get out a thermometer, but I will tell you that I left a cup of water in here last night and I do not lie, but it was ICED OVER this morning when I came to try and drink it! My lip got stuck!). And hurriedly, before I get frost-bite, try and tell you that – I am not writing my diary yet! That this, and that short story you had before (significantly better than the dodgy one preceding that, I thought) are the only indications of January this year I will be able to find, in later life! It’s almost terrifying! (And definitely not balanced!) All those tiny thoughts and good feelings, and moments when I looked up and saw how the light was golden on the wall and how incredibly beautiful that light was; the red berries remaining on the holly tree, glistening violent after hard rain in the morning, when all else is oddly dark and greyed…all…gone…
Yep. That settles it. Must try harder. Free is one thing; but my memory is bad enough without having any recorded memories to fall back on that are at least partially accurate from being written near or at the time. And I’ve never cared how small they are, how dumb or insignificant they might seem. They are all flavour. And how complicated (in terms of how much different stimulation we all receive and react to,) we are. Some sorting, or random recording would scrub up my otherwise undistinguished days. Open the diary. Have a nice blank page. Consider talking to myself…
But since I spent that time I had today doing this; I shall have to begin tomorrow. The talismanic tomorrow, always available, always ready to be a nice fresh start, again. But yes. I shall start.