Being Safe

My son is rolling cars smack into the skirting boards to see which one is faster, my daughter is upstairs reading her Twilight books, my husband is at work and Charlie, who recently had to have major surgery after an accident on the park, is happily chewing a ham bone in his bed. This is ok, this is safe, ordinary and good. This week, there have been several incidents of a man, in a balaclava and with a dog, trying to pick up girls, 10-13 year olds, in my local area where my daughter plays out. It has meant that we’ve had to cut short her independence and make sure she is with someone all the time, not going anywhere on her own and has had me so stressed. It has been a black cloud. A badness, a darkness, blotting out the good, the longer days and the intermittent sunshine.

I have been low. I’m accepting of it, it had to happen, and I’m getting by. I’m tired, so tired. I’ve been thinking about a book launch but have yet to find anywhere for free and feeling as I do I don’t feel optimistic about it. I feel like it’ll be a miracle if people show up and that in the state I’m in I wouldn’t be able to give a reading. I feel like people attending for me wouldn’t really want to be there. That it will be a charade. That I will be disappointing. Etc. etc. I need this to lift.

This week I made this recipe for a curry, it’s very delicious and I thought I would share it. I’m not very into food when I’m low but this was enjoyable to make and yummy to eat:

One onion, chopped

Two cloves garlic, chopped or pressed

One two inch piece of root ginger, grated

Two teaspoons coriander seeds, crushed in a pestle and mortar

One teaspoon mustard seeds, crushed

One teaspoon black onion seeds, crushed

Quarter teaspoon cayenne pepper

One teaspoon tumeric

salt and black pepper

One lime, squeezed

Chicken, fish like cod, monkfish, snapper or extra veg

mushrooms

red pepper

One tin chopped tomatoes

One tin coconut milk

Saute the onion and garlic in some oil

Add veg, and meat, fish or extra veg

fry gently

add all the spices, fry for a couple of minutes

then add the lime juice,

then the tomatoes, coconut milk

simmer for twenty minutes

Serve with rice, chapatti’s, or naan bread, will easily serve 4-5

Tonight I’m going to watch Human Planet on catch up, it’s an amazing series, BBC one. It’s well worth watching, documentaries about communities and people all over the world, how they go about hunting and making the most of their environment and things. Then at the end they show a bit about how they made the documentary and the trials the cameramen have been through. Essential viewing, I say. This week I’m watching the director’s cut of Cinema Paradiso, reading Emily Critchley’s Love/All that/&OK, and listening to Low- we have tickets to see them in May, cannot wait. Been listening to the new Radiohead album on Spinner, not really catching yet.

I can’t concentrate on what is happening around me, I’m preoccupied, faltering. I’m waiting for something to happen, to release me from this stupor, this stasis. I can’t construct anything coherent. I wrote a story last week, which ran into 3,000 words, way too long, and seemed to start up and stop about three times before I wrote the last line and gave in. I need to pare down, to focus.

I feel safe, but maybe safe isn’t enough, maybe I need some risk, some stress, some friction, some fear, to act. To get out of this mood, this hell. I’m in hiding. I don’t like it any other way. I like to be anonymous, aloof, not ‘there.’ When I think about the launch I can’t abide the thought of being the centre of attention for however short a time, I have never in my life wanted to stand in front of people and talk or perform anything, I have always dreaded the spotlight being on me. I feel uncomfortable even admitting that I am this shy. But I am. And I’m a bit lost at the moment. I am waiting for inspiration and waiting for a clue.

Ok, it’s ‘mum, what’s an anenome?’ time here.

Thankyou for taking the time to read, it’s really appreciated…

x

A Body Made of You

My new book, A Body Made of You, my first collection will be published on the 1st April. Yes, April Fool’s Day!

You will be able to buy from Penned in the Margins or Inpress online. You will be able to purchase on Amazon also.

http://www.inpressbooks.co.uk/

http://www.pennedinthemargins.co.uk/

The collection is a series of ‘portraits’ of other writers, friends, strangers, lovers and artists. I wrote these during a difficult period where I was in and out of hospital but had such an intense creative kick; I interviewed and worked intuitively, and wrote the poems for the sitters as opposed to of. I loved the process so much that I am sure I will return to it again and again. I loved working with all the people involved. Some writing was successful, some not so but I had 108 poems when it started to feel ‘complete.’ It’s now carefully edited down to 80 pages, and I am looking forward to seeing the cover and feel so excited about it; it feels like it’s been such a long time coming.

When I found out that Penned… were going to publish my book (crafted so painstakingly, and I had thought no-one would be interested), I was on my way to the local pool for a swim, and I got into that pool and swam so fast, with such glee, because I was so excited and happy, and then I called my husband at work and I don’t think I could believe that someone actually had that much faith in it. I haven’t been out reading and getting myself known in that way so have hardly had any outside help or criticism, I have honed my skill through reading and writing alone. I got such a lot of positive feedback from the sitters though and that spurred me on to seek publication. I do lack a good deal of self-confidence, for whatever reason, and so it’s always a pleasant and unexpected surprise for me when someone takes to my work.

Sometimes I forget I have been working towards this all my life, that I have been writing seriously for nine years and that I have worked so hard. Eventually, if you put that much into it, you get some reward. I think the book owes a lot to the state of mind I was in at the time. I couldn’t write it now, my writing has developed since in a rather different way.

Tom at Penned.. has been wonderful, supportive and diligent. I am nervous about the book being published, of course. I have no idea what people will think, like and dislike. I wonder if anyone will review my book, whether it will be a success, whether I will sell many copies etc. I believe that it is a good book, I have put my all into it.

I am trying to think about where in the North West I could have a launch. I am open to any suggestions. I have thought of a few places but not sure. Also, if anyone is interested in reading, I would be grateful for the support. Watch this space!

Anyway, these are my thoughts for today:

Going Up

Akron/Family

Late night visits to Ikea

Daim bars

Bulgakov

Double mix chocolate cake

Long phonecalls

not seeing into the future

thai curry

Michael Egan

winter onions

Publication dates

double duvets

Damien Jurado

Flash fiction

watching ‘wanted down under’ in the depot clinic

fresh coffee

having the same dream as someone else

spelling tests

winter sunshine

First drafts

Going Down

Landlords coming for their rent

showing strangers your bottom

weak tea

two procycladine every morning

the News

being incapable of drinking more than half a glass of wine before falling asleep

burned casserole

sales calls when you’re just getting to that crucial line..

money (filthy stuff)

whole days of rain

pessismism (for  a change)

second drafts

not having a stitch to wear

the smiths

David Cameron (well he was never up was he)

small towns

indoor play areas

online shopping

Solaris

absent inspiration

Thanks for dropping by!!

M x

Melancholia

There’s tedium in a life like mine, and banality and the everyday, but I have grown to work with that at times. This is not the life I always hoped for, but it is the life I want and deserve. No matter what happens, I came to this point naturally and without kicking and screaming. This is also wellness, or what that means to me. I understand that I am a sensitive and private creature, I seek out isolation and I feel lonely even when I’m with others. I used to wonder how on earth I was going to survive in this world when I absorb so much of what is around me and I suffer sensitivity so acutely. I often feel quite fatalistically that here is where I must be, and this is the life I was meant for. I only think that casually of course.

The sun is beaming. The house is cold. The kids are at school, I’ve been writing a new poem which I can’t seem to inject any life into. I get asked what I do for a living. I say I’m unemployed, and then a hosuewife, and occasionally I tell people I write. It’s always the same reaction, as though I’ve said something terrible, like I am inferring that I am more intellectually adept than the other person. It’s very odd. Some lovely people yesterday said some positive things to me, that I should be proud of my writing. I wish I was getting more into the magazines, I seem to be having a difficult period with my work. I keep writing anyway, everyday, in a disciplined way. Most of what I write is awful and I generally just discard it, but sometimes, I write something I feel is authentic and interesting. This is the best feeling in the world to me.

Round here, life goes on in a very humdrum way. I’m a long way away from the city. People here dress differently, they walk slowly, they talk slowly, there’s time to spare. I walk to re-stock the well, I stargaze, I overhear conversations, I imagine, most of all, I have room to imagine. Really I feel like a failure most days, because I don’t write anything successful and nobody’s been in touch to tell me they’re interested in my work and I haven’t managed to draw on my resources very convincingly. There’s the endless pile of washing and cleaning and I take good care of the kids, like I said, I can feel alone even when the house is full.

 I think that it is easy for people to see me as a melancholic, someone who listens to too many sad songs and watches sad films and reads sad books. I like the sadness, I can relate to it more than anything else, I have the lived experience to be able to connect with sadness and grief and despair. I find it life affirming at times, to be presented with something someone has had to live through. Or something with magnitude, I find strength in being confronted with things I can’t imagine and I love the way music and art tempts your emotions, makes you feel alive. Even when it’s dark, sad, strange, troubled. I know people who only listen to ‘happy’ music and will say that they are easily brought down by anything else. I imagine it’s helpful to be able to block out unwanted emotion and stay up and ‘happy.’ I can say now that I am happy for the first time in my life, that’s been the case for the last six months, but I can’t imagine what it’s like to not have been depressed and manic and ill for the majority of my life, to be able to make simple choices that steady emotions, like what not to read and listen to and watch. Or what not to confront as the case may be. I take it all on, head on, because I have always been this way, a hunger for truth perhaps, and nothing like any of my relatives, I appear to have decided to be this way all by myself, or if I haven’t decided, I wasn’t influenced. And there is no telling why I am a manic depressive either. It’s simply the case, I can’t change this.

Would I want to change anything, that it the question. I was asked recently if I would change being a manic depressive and I answered yes. All that pain, all the terrible terrible hours and days turning into months and years, the pain you can’t express at all. I said I’d change it. But not just to be someone who couldn’t face the truth. I would still want to be attuned to the world and all its intricacies. Is it the mental illness that makes me the way I am or is it just something that exists alongside my personality?

On a lighter note, Steven and I actually got out the other night, drove to Liverpool, which I love, has a fantastic atmosphere, and watched Siddharta Bose’s one man play Kalagora, a performance of poetry with real soul and charisma. I love the book, his debut poetry collection available form Penned in the Margins or Inpress books online. Siddharta was brillantly energetic and vibrant, the audience giving little ripples of laughter here and there, and he really took you somewhere, incredible storytelling and a captivating performance. I thought now here is a man with real experience, with real creative intuition and invention!

http://www.kalagora.com/

His show is playing at different venues around the country until April 16th so book your tickets now! Don’t miss out!

Much love to all and thankyou for taking the time to read,

M x