Wednesday, 17 March 2010

Why Didn't I stick to Housewifery?

I'm sure I used to be able to do more than one thing at a time. Today I couldn't even answer the phone.

I want to have my portfolio ready to go for binding by Monday, Tuesday at the very latest, so that if they fuck it up I have time to get it put right. I wasn't happy with the way my last dissertation was bound but by the time I had it in my hands all I could do was rush it over to the university to meet the deadline.

I need ten thousand perfectly placed words for the prose section and have, so far, positioned six thousand eight hundred and ninety five as well as I can. I still have one short story, the first chapter of a novel and the first chapter of a non-fiction thing to work on. The word count I can manage, it's the perfect bit I struggle with. As for the poems I have seven out of the required ten done to the best of my current ability. So I need another three.

I feel like I'm working in a word factory, on night shift. My hours have become entirely nocturnal: I work till about 5am and don't rise till about 3pm, it takes me until about 8am to get to sleep. Still, my table now looks like this:

Filled with completed work. When I look at it I feel like I've at least done something. I still don't know what order to put it in though, but am told that it will become obvious. I also need to get the artwork for the cover done. I want a head rendered in labels, some of them peeling away to reveal raw flesh, maybe even a little bone. But, damn it, I'm no visual artist so lord knows what I'll end up with.

Last night, before I went to bed I put all my clothes in the washing machine and set the timer so they'd be ready to hang out when I woke. This afternoon as I hung them I looked into the basket and saw my iPod shuffle still attached to my tracksuit top.


Lulu LaBonne said...

AAAaaargggh - sorry about the shuffle.

Soooooo impressed by the literature mountain. I do think the order of things becomes obvious - love the idea of a peeley label head, raw flesh monster, I'd canabalise a horror poster - probably

savannah said...

i am soooooo sorry about y'alls shuffle, this is not the season for ipods, sugar! the MITM LEFT his on a plane and of course, it wasn't turned in to lost & found! xoxoxox

(love the cover work concept!)

steven said...

eryl - how do ya do it? i have a friend who works this way and she is brilliant, astonishing, produces major efforts and leaves health, sanity, care behind while she makes the world a smarter place!!! i love the neat desk. wow. mine is a collection of piles of paper, different pens, books, notebooks, and of course this laptop. keep at it - remember about fun every so often. steven

Titus said...

Ooh-er with the iPod, but why can't I stop thinking Juicy Couture as soon as I read tracksuit top?

The desk looks fabulous - layers of acheivement before you. I love the sound of your working "day" - my idea of heaven, I love the world when everyone else is asleep and there is nothing to distract you except yourself. I still sleep better during the day than I do at night.

You are so close, and the finishing line awaits you. I am now getting "Chariots of Fire" images, so best I get off...
Good luck, and I'll think of you at 2am.

Sharon Longworth said...

Keep going - you're so nearly there. All the comments show how impressed we are with your efforts and just think how fantastic you'll feel in a few days time. And who knows, perhaps you can turn the ipod drowning into a poem?

Eryl Shields said...

Lulu ~ cannibalising a horror poster is a jolly good idea. I have a rotting pig's head in the garden (don't ask) and was thinking of cutting all the logos out of Vogue and pinning them on to it, and then taking a photo.

Savannah ~ I feel slightly better knowing I'm not the only one! XXX

Steven ~ that's my 'show' desk, the one I actually work at looks exactly like yours sounds. Fun?

Titus ~ Working at night is ideal, there aren't even any birds singing to distract you. The only thing is, having had dinner at the normal time, I find myself starving at about 3am and have to make cheese on toast.

Chariots of Fire in Juicy Couture, you've nailed me!

Sharon ~ thank you, I'm slightly afraid of finishing: what will I do with myself? But, at the same time I can't wait.

Philip said...

get that academic stuff sorted then write me poems and a novel. Oh, and the blog. No pressure.

problemchildbride said...

You're galloping home, darling! One more push and you can sit back with the profound satisfaction you deserve to feel. Proud of you, hon.

angryparsnip said...

OMG... housewifery brain cells are dieing as I write that word... I know some people like Martha love ironing sheets but arghhhhhhhhhhhhh ! Tofu Brain
I still do my best work late at night when it is just me... something about the quiet even though the TV or music is on really soft... I love it. That enveloping quiet is when I feel very alive and creative.
Love the work on your desk... amazing amount of work and it is almost done YEA !
cheers, parsnip

Eryl Shields said...

Philip ~ poems, a novel and the blog, right you are then!

Sam ~ darling Sam, I will have a big heather coloured cocktail of profound satisfaction as soon as the last push has been pushed xxx

Parsnip ~ I wonder how many people do prefer to work at night? The quiet and the feeling of being alone, and at one, with the work is the most enlivening thing on earth I reckon.

Elisabeth said...

That's cruel, isn't it. Destructive efficiency. We all do it from time to time, but that doesn't lessen the pain. Commiserations.

The Pollinatrix said...

Ah yes, I've been there. When I was in grad school I wrote a thirty-page research paper on The Dream of the Rood, including my own translation of it (all 256 lines!) I would sit in my office into the wee hours with nothing but a computer, an Old English dictionary, and a mess of articles. During that period the housework suffered, let me tell you.

I'm reminded of that Annie Dillard said when she was writing Pilgrim at Tinker Creek, she let all her houseplants die.

This kind of period is very exciting, though. You'll look back on it with fondness, I bet.

Kim Ayres said...

If you need any help blending the elements for your cover, email me the selection of images with a rough sketch of what you want and I can try a bit of photoshop magic if you want.

The Pollinatrix said...

Hey Kim, have you ever thought about doing a Photoshop tutorial or something online? Another blogger, Reya, just posted this morning about how frustrated she is trying to learn Photoshop.

Just a thought.

ewix said...

Such stress getting something ready to be published.
I'm sure the result will be stunning.

Was the karmic god telling you something about the i-pod?

Eryl Shields said...

Elizabeth ~ Destructive efficiency sums it up perfectly, and it does feel cruel.

Polli ~ you translated the Dream of the Rood? I'm so impressed. I have an Old English tutorial pack – CD, book and dictionary – that I have been meaning to get my teeth into for about a year.

It is very exciting and I am actually enjoying it. The death of my iPod is a fairly small price to pay, and I hope I can learn something from it.

Kim ~ thank you, you're a love. Sadly, I haven't even selected any images yet!

Elizabeth W ~ all the iPod ever did was keep me company as I thrashed out my frustrations (and worked off some of the Maltesers I eat incessantly as I edit) on the mini trampoline in the garden. Though it's now been replaced by my son's old Nano which holds eight times more music, so perhaps the karmic god was telling me I need to expand my listening.

Gadjo Dilo said...

Oh noooooooooooo!!!! Still, you know what you have to do: all writers know how to turn personal tragedy into art!

A Cuban In London said...

My heart broke when I read your last sentence. Can you have it mended? Stupid question, I know. Sorry. Wish loads of luck with you dissertation, my dear temporary owl. :-)

Greetings from London.

PS: On the artwork for the cover. When I did my project management course, the tutor was expecting me to hand in a portfolio full of dazzling artistic covers for each section, since at the time I still worked in the arts. What a surprise she had when I turned up with a folder full of cuttings from The Guardian and The New Yorker cartoons to head each section. And you know what? She loved it better! :-) You never know which way tutors will sway.

Golden West said...

Reading these quotations this morning brought you immediately to mind - hope you enjoy them!

In the confrontation between the stream and the rock, the stream always wins - not through strength, but through persistence.


Nothing in the world can take the place of Persistence. Talent will not: nothing is more common than unsuccessful men with talent. Genius will not; unrewarded genius is almost a proverb. Education will not; the world is full of educated derelicts. Persistence and determination alone are omnipotent. The slogan 'Press on' has solved and always will solve the problems of the human race.

Calvin Coolidge

Genius is one percent inspiration and ninety-nine percent perspiration.

Thomas Edison

Eryl Shields said...

Gadjo ~ absolutely, everything is material.

Cuban ~ I like the idea of being a temporary owl, I'll probably be a crow next week!

I have a huge pile of magazines and newspapers here just waiting to be plundered. I might just spend an idle hour or so flicking through them, thanks.

Golden ~ I didn't go to bed last night and have just stopped work after a 27hour stint. So, reading your words followed by those quotations actually made me cry with gratitude. Thank you, X

newjenny said...

It's good to have a motivation that pushes all else aside; like being in love.

Eryl Shields said...

Jenny ~ I have to say I haven't felt quite so alive for a long time. And it is like being in love, you're right.

Kathryn Magendie said...

I love that cover image idea! intriguing!

Does the ipod still work? lawd be....

Love what you said about a "word factory" -- ah.

Eryl Shields said...

Kat ~ my son found a computer program that will do the cover image for me, it is, in fact, doing it right now, minus the gore though. Can't have everything.

The iPod is dead, sadly.