Wednesday, 10 March 2010

Delightful and Energetic

Sixteen days and it will all be over. I'll have done all I can to get the degree I've been working for, part-time (?!!!), since October 2007. My final portfolio will be out of my hands. It should have been submitted last September, but stuff got in the way and I couldn't work on it over the summer as planned. I got a new submission date for the end of December, and more stuff got in the way! But now the summer stuff has been brought into relative, if uneasy, harmony with the rest of life and the winter stuff has been dealt with, so I have no excuse but to get on and meet my latest date. I could have taken this semester off but I want to graduate this summer, so I decided to just do it. Deciding to just do it and actually doing it, though, are two quite different things, and it's only in the last few weeks that I've managed to spring into action. I've spent quite a lot of time since Christmas feeling guilty and angry with myself for doing bugger all. Then, a few days ago, Elizabeth wrote a post about procrastination in which she included a quotation about how we tend to ignore the voice that impels us to create. In the comments section I asked why we do that. She responded with this:

" She remembered from what now seemed the astonishing free and spacious days of her education the phenomenon of the first day's work on a task. One had to peel one's mind from its run of preoccupations: coffee to buy, am I in love, the yellow dress needs mending, Tim is unhappy, what is wrong with Marcus, how shall I live my life? It took time before the task in hand seemed possible, and more before it came to life, and more still before it became imperative and obsessive.

There had to be a time before thought, a wool-gathering time when nothing happened, a time of yawning, of wandering eyes and feet, of reluctance to do what would finally become delightful and energetic. Threads of thought had to rise and be gathered and catch on other threads of old thought, from some unused memory store."
A.S. Byatt Still Life.

I felt so much better after reading that, it feels so right and true: 'wool-gathering' is what I've been doing. And yesterday it finally became 'delightful and energetic.'

First, I awoke to an email from my supervisor saying: 'I think this is it!' about the latest incarnation of my essay.

Second, I decided to act on a growing notion to substitute an old radio drama for a short story that wasn't responding to redrafting. I was a bit nervous about opening the drama document: I hadn't looked at it for a year, it could have been terrible and needed much work, but it was fine and perfect for my theme. All I really needed for it was a different opening song. This could have been difficult but I'd heard what I thought could be the perfect one on Sunday on my iPod Shuffle, the only thing is I didn't know what it was called. A brief trawl through the contents of the Shuffle was all I needed to find it, and I got to listen to some Radiohead into the bargain. Good stuff.

Third, I began the great disentangling of the wool:

I need to be able to see, at every turn, where I'm at.

I cleared my table so I can lay out each piece as it is done in the hope that they will fall into perfect order.

New folder into which I'll put each piece once I've got it as good as I can, to keep them all in one place, and also so I feel I'm achieving something. Once the last piece is in I will dance!


Pat said...

I'm very proud of you honey especially with what you have had to cope with these last few months. And it all looks so pro - like the writer we all aspire to be.
Thank you - because that inspires me to finally finish the book by the end of the week- come what.xox

angryparsnip said...

A.S. Byatt is so right... There seems to always be something that needs to be done standing in our way. How many times have I said after I do this then I can do ...
I so understand the delightful and energetic part.
So happy for you and sometimes it just seems to be the right time even if we don't realize it is.
Yea !
cheers... parsnip

Philip said...

That's great. I'm really pleased to see your sense of purpose. I like the clear table too. I have no doubt that you'll pass with flying colours. I'm really interested as to what you do next. I'm enjoying reading you, I look forward to doing so here and in due course in other places. You get my prize for "Blogger most likely..." No pressure of course! Haha. Seriously - thanks for the quality reading, and I admire your gutsy recovery from the december stuff.

Eryl Shields said...

Pat ~ hurrah! glad to be of use, and look forward to holding your book in my hands one day soon, X

Parsnip ~ how right you are. I'm beginning to realise that there is a right time and no amount of trying to bring it forward will succeed.

Philip ~ there is nothing like a sense of purpose. What I do next is beginning to assume a shape, in my head at least, and I really do feel ready to move on now. So nice to know someone enjoys reading me.

Titus said...

God, I feel like dancing too!
Shiny table!

newjenny said...


Lulu LaBonne said...

I'm impressed - I totally relate to the procrastination thing.

Brilliant that you're on a roll now!

Eryl Shields said...

Titus ~ it looks much shinier in the photo than it looks in the room.

Jenny ~ I suppose it could still go horribly wrong, but for now I do feel like a hurray!

Lulu ~ I don't think you can do anything worth doing without considerable procrastination, now. Being on a roll is the best!

savannah said...

fantastic and seriously, sugar, inspiring! thank you! xoxoxox

Gadjo Dilo said...

Well done! Wow, you write radio plays too?? The height of my father's literary achievement was a play on Radio 3; it was quite the most depressing thing you could ever wish to hear, but it meant a lot to him.

A Cuban In London said...

I know it's off topic but I loved that final photo, top to bottom. For some reason, all those folders mixed with the sunlight and you holding the camera made me happy. Go figure.

I wish you the best of luck with all your assignments. It's so nerve-wracking, isn't it? You'll pull it off. May I ask you what your thesis is on, if that's not too indiscreet?

I think 'Nation' will go on tour very soon. Look out for it.

Greetings from London.

Elisabeth said...

If only AS Byattt could know that in her wonderful words from the middle of her novel there are at least two of us who have been inspired.

I've been untangling the wool these last few days too, Eryl. And I'm ever so glad that I had some wool gathered behind me.

This all sounds so wonderful. Like everyone else commenting here, I'm proud of and for you.

Golden West said...

Your enthusiasm and sense of direction are radiating through your words - how wonderful you are so close to such a huge accomplishment, Eryl! My hat's off to your perseverance and purpose!

Eryl Shields said...

Savannah ~ thanks hon, it's so exciting! XXX

Gadjo ~ well done to your dad for getting his play aired. I've had to write all sorts of things for this course, the emphasis was on pushing our own perceived limitations. I've only written one radio play and not sent it to anyone though my tutor thinks I should. I think it still needs a bit more, one more scene perhaps, maybe I'll finish it once this portfolio is done.

Cuban ~ it's a creative writing M.Litt so no thesis. I have to submit ten thousand words of prose and ten poems with a two thousand word exegesis. The individual pieces must work together as if it's a proper anthology/collection, my theme is, now, the labels we attach both to ourselves and others and what happens when they start to peel off.

Glad the photo made you happy, it's odd what we find cheering isn't it, in a good way?

Elizabeth ~ wouldn't it be lovely to let her know? I think I might try when this is over, drop her a line because of all the encouraging words I've read from other writers these have had the most profound effect.

Golden ~ sometimes I think I persevere with things because I don't know how to stop! This has been like making a huge vat of custard, I thought the eggs would never set, but I kept stirring because I didn't want to waste them.

Scarlet Blue said...

...I have so much wool now that I should be able to knit a multi-coloured carpet...
Knit one, purl one...
P.S Congrats and good luck.

Kim Ayres said...

When you have either - a) finished, or b) a desperate need to procrastinate for a day - then let me know - I could do with your face for my portrait exhibition :)

Eryl Shields said...

Scarlet ~ I can't wait to see what you do with it! X

Kim ~ how nice, if slightly peculiar, to have my face needed! Once this is done it's yours. I aim to have it ready for the printer by the 22nd, so any time after that if it's not too late for you.

A Cuban In London said...

'the labels we attach both to ourselves and others and what happens when they start to peel off.'

That's a very interesting topic. I guess that it's a way of confronting our falsehood, or truth, whichever way you put it. :-)

Good luck!

Greetings from London.

Murr Brewster said...

Sometimes it's wool-gathering, and sometimes it's fear. But I have always found that first step off the cliff to be the sticking point. After that things start moving pretty quic

Eryl Shields said...

Cuban ~ yes, I think we probably embrace our labels as a way of avoiding truths which are difficult to deal with, perhaps. Not sure, I'm just exploring really.

Murr Brewster ~ fear is definitely part of it. I'm trying to redraft a story at the moment and keep thinking: 'why would anyone want to read this?'

Kathryn Magendie said...

WOW! Look at that diagram!

& a YAYY *WHOOP WHOOP* to accomplishments

Here's to getting something Done....and then going to the Next THing -*laughing*

I love that table by the way

Jimmy Bastard said...

I'm behind you hen, go for it!

Eryl Shields said...

Kathryn ~ that diagram is my most accomplished work so far!

I'm itching for the next thing, now.

Isn't the table nice, I inherited it from my mother-in-law, one day it would be nice to have a room big enough to allow people to sit round it.

Jimmy ~ is that you who keeps poking me in the ribs?

evision said...