Tuesday, 14 September 2010

My multiple personalities are disordered

I've become one of those people who feel so busy they can't get anything done for tearing at their hair and wailing: 'I'm so busy!' That sort has always irritated me: 'Stop wailing and get on then.' But now I know how they feel. It's like being in a wind tunnel filled with debris, battered by semi-identifiable flying objects. There is a way to stop these objects from continuing to thump me: I must identify them and put them in the correct boxes. As each object is placed in its box the wind will slow a little and the rest will be more easily seen, and contained. There aren't actually that many of them, it just feels like a lot. But I can't think, I can't see, I can only feel this constant bombardment of wind and objects. And I want to stamp on the next thing that hits me. I know, however, this will only make it even bigger and more terrifying.

I have put some things away, but only today do I feel the wind has died down enough to enable me to think. Today a big, hurty-thumpy, object has been put in its box.

With the unexpected rise of corporate-me, writer-me is feeling under threat. (I think it's she who turned up the wind (I know, this metaphor is beginning to hurt).) Especially as tutor-me is in the process of being resurrected for the new academic term. One of the things writer-me relies on is her journal, as long as she has a journal she knows she exists. Writer-me is the bit of me that holds the rest together.

I use my journal to jot down ideas, the beginnings of stories and poems, images, eavesdroppings, inspirational quotations, and all sorts of other stuff that I feel may help me actually write something again, one day. I stick in pictures from magazines and of my own taking, bits of packaging, old tickets, and postcards. Sometimes I even draw in it. I realise that a real writer could use any old pad of paper for the purpose, but I need a particular sort. For a while I used Papuro journals. They are incredibly beautiful with their glossy leather covers and smooth cream paper. And they have hundreds of pages so last a good year, but they are too expensive for me now. For Christmas one year Stevie bought me a recycled leather journal with thick card pages. Because of the pinkness of its cover it sat around unused for a year or two, but in May I ran out of space in my old one. Unable to afford a new Papuro I pulled, what I then called, the hideous pink thing from the stack of papers it was buried under. When I opened it I noticed that, not only did the colour cease to be a problem, it lay completely flat. This makes it much more comfortable to use: the need to hold down unruly pages eliminated I can sit in an armchair rather than at a table, arms and fingers don't ache, and ink doesn't smudge if I let go too soon. The thickness of the pages is a boon too, they don't buckle and crumple when I glue stuff in. In no time at all I was unable to imagine going back to a different sort. There is a downside, of course: with the pages being so thick there aren't that many of them, and a week or so ago I realised I was going to need a new one very soon. I knew he got it from Paperchase, so last week I went to Glasgow. Paperchase in Glasgow used to be in Borders. But Borders UK went bust. I knew that, but somehow failed to make the connection that with Borders gone, Paperchase probably would be too. I came home without a new journal.

I decided to try and buy it online: Paperchase must have a website. They do, but it's under reconstruction and wouldn't be in operation for another two weeks.

There is a big, luscious Paperchase in Edinburgh. But Edinburgh is less easy to get to and negotiate. They're installing a tram system at the moment, parking is difficult and expensive, busses and trains are infrequent, and I am so busy!

Yesterday I had only one page left, this made me feel nauseous, I was seriously tempted to jump in the car, but decided to search the web first. I spent hours trying different permutations of leather journal in the search engine: leather-bound journal/notebook/sketchbook/pad; leather covered... Recycled leather... I nearly relented and ordered a different sort, but one last try and I hit on the right phrase and found, joy of joys, iapetus gallery. They had what looked like the right thing. After examining it as closely as I could I ordered one at about 4pm.

Last night I filled the last page of Pink. This felt rather reckless but I had to get down Elizabeth Bishop's 'The Man-Moth.' This morning I braced myself for either a panic-trip to Edinburgh or a day or two of writing things on index cards, but before I'd finished a cup of tea Stevie came into my room and said: 'this seems to be for you.'

And it's perfect! The exact thing I was hoping for: thick card pages, sturdy recycled (dark brown) leather cover. It is made by a company called Art Box Designs who reform (rather like Spam, it strikes me) offcuts from the leather industry into a variety of very hardwearing, eco-friendly products. Both writer-me and I must stop fucking up the planet!-me are happy.


Carole said...

Oh, I love the the description of the windtunnel and bits and pieces flying about. I need a bigger box.

Yesterday I went in search of a notebook because I needed to do some journaling (which I hadn't done in ages) and opened the night stand drawer by my bed and inside was a beautiful red leather bound journal that was completely blank. I have no idea where it came from but I immediately went outside with it, a pen, and the noises of summer and started to write. It felt good.

Anonymous said...


Alesa Warcan said...

And so began the tale of the new journal...

Stomping on things in the wind tunnel doesn't make them bigger, it shatters them into smaller pieces that fly faster and that have to be caught one by one... Congrats for putting it away rather than stomping it!
It's nice to read you. : j

Wigeon said...

Oh oh, poor you Eryl. I think I'm in a similar wind tunnel and it's not a good feeling is it? I find it's getting things done when my deadlines are pulling me in all directions and focus is lost. I think I know how you feel and can sympathise!
Love the look of the new journal. Hope it brings you all sorts of joy and exciting journeys.

Lulu LaBonne said...

OOOh I love the look of this one. I get too scared of proper nice books to put anything in them - I have a fetish for old fashioned school exercise books

Pat said...

I'm happy you have a good outcome. Makes me ashamed of my tatty old scribble pads which are becoming redundant as my handwriting becomes ever more illegible. Thank Heaven for Word.
The thing that saves my sanity when getting blown hither and yon is making lists. No matter how long they are - as long as I have the exquisite pleasure of crossing the odd item out - as dealt with - I can cope.

Kim Ayres said...

The extremes we will go to, just to try and find a way of controlling the screaming panic - hours (days) spent looking for, and being prepared to make a 100 mile round trip just for a a few bits of paper wrapped in card and leather.

I understand so well.

And you write about it so beautifully :)

Titus said...

Wow, what a post. Loved the wind things extended riff: My life! My life! Brilliant pinned-insecting of that feeling.
And,stationery! My favourite thing!
I don't keep a journal or a diary, but I just love notebooks when I sit down to write. And I use a big A4 lined one for work, so that everything work-related that I''ve ever written down at any meeting or after any phone-call is always in the same place, and retrievable.
As it's registration day tomorrow (actually, today) I was stomping round the house saying "I can't believe there is not a blank notebook in this house", as I thought I would have a Uni notebook as I do a Work one. After fruitless searching, located a nice big A4 "Artist's Sketch Book" from Peony Press (?) that Craig was given as a birthday present years ago. Virtually unused! It's just like a notebook, hardback, properly bound, plus nice smooth paper. Result!
And there is a small Paperchase on the concourse of Glasgow Central Station.
Now, off to that link. I smell new (recycled) paper...

Titus said...

Ooh. I need to find someone who stocks the zebra. Or suggest Artbox to thomas tosh...

nick said...

An interesting company, I'd never heard of them before. The new journal looks wonderful. And delivered in the nick of time!

I love your metaphor of the wind tunnel and the flying objects as well. Being jobless, I don't feel quite like that, but I'm sure Jenny would recognise it. She's always got too many things on her plate.

Eryl said...

I can't think, Carole of anything more delicious than a blank, red leather bound journal. One that's been filled by someone else would come a pretty close second, because I am so nosy. Did John leave it there knowing you'd find it when you most needed it?

Mago mi tunnel su tunnel.

Alesa How right you are! Told you I couldn't think. Will, will, will take some time to come an catch up on your story, soon.

Wigeon I don't think losing focus is always a bad thing as long as you can get it back again if you want to. Good luck.

Lulu ~ me too, re the old fashioned school exercise books. I think they must remind me of the joys of being locked in the stationery cupboard as a naughty child. They thought it was punishment! I'm also extremely fond of wooden rulers and boxes of 'Treasury Tags.'

Pat ~ I go through phases of list making and always find them a pleasure, must resurrect that habit. I bet your list is pretty long at the moment, X

Kim ~ it seems ridiculous, but I have made that trip, to Edinburgh, just for a lump of cheese before. I still sometimes worry that, now I buy cheese from Tesco, that my standards have dropped too low.

Titus ~ I didn't keep a journal until I began my writing degree, it was one of the course requirements, but now I couldn't do without it. It's nothing more than a book of beautifully bound scraps. It has to be A4!

Very good luck today, you'll be there now and, hopefully, registered. So excited for you!

Yes, definitely speak to Thomas Tosh about Art Box. They'd be a perfect match. Tutor-me is angling for one the document folders, too, so I could come out and peruse if they stocked them, can't find them for sale on-line.

Nick ~ aren't they, I only found out about them during my frantic search, there is nothing on the journal to indicate who made it.

I was jobless for decades (if you don't count the mothering bit which never felt job-like), but I seem to be taking on more and more, most of which is unpaid!

Anonymous said...

As usual, I am in awe of your authentic zeal.

Kathryn Magendie said...

I'm pulling out hair and flopping in that windtunnel! AUUGGGHHHHH! HEEELP MEEEEEE! WHHHOOOSSSHHH..augh.

(did you find your strunk & white yet? :-D)

Philip said...

your journal posts are like the seasons - I know they're coming but struggle to predict them. I remember early on, when reading you, spotting a graphic with a pot of pencils. I identify with your needing the right thing. For me it's the brown notebooks in paperchase, or the A4 sized school exercise books from ryman. I like posher ones but am too reluctant to scribble in them. I'm happier to scrawl in rougher looking books. Take a photo for me - I like looking at your notebooks.
Also - being a nagging type - I ain't got your novel yet - so how about posting me some fiction. I return the challenge - why don't you jump off from my stalking post and do a short short story on that subject. You know you want to....

Eryl said...

Jenny ~ do you mean 'zeal' or do you really mean 'squeal'?

Kat ~ I will look for Strunk and White as soon as this wind has died down a little.

Philip ~ it's you! Evil controller of the wind-o-metre.

Fragments of stalker story have floated by but I haven't had time/head space to write them down. I am very slow to convert stimuli into work. However, I'll browse my cache of scraps and see if I have a postable story.

rochambeau said...

Hello Lovely,
SOOOOOooooo nice to hear you found the folio of your hearts desire!! A place to store all your secrets and thought and dreams.

When I was reading about your whirlwind feeling above, it reminded me of a mantra or how I would reason with myself when preparing for a large catering event. Usually I did all of the cooking. It could be daunting if I thought of all of the things that needed to happen to make the party come together. SO this is what I told myself. Just CUT THE CARROTS, beat the eggs, etc. I would tell myself: "TAKE ACTION (do what is before you) and remind myself: It's all going to work out, it always has before! Many small actions add up to great things.

Hugs Eryl
I admire what a great writer you are!! Writing is by biggest challenge!

Philip said...

"Evil controller of the wind-o-metre" I've been called a lot of things but never that. I'm not even really sure I know what it means. But hey, I'll take it as a compliment. I look forward to the story.
The post you just read on my site came from a picture in last weekend's guardian of one of the mitford sisters skating in the 30s. Hope you liked it.

The Weaver of Grass said...

I am now going to see if I can Google Art Box designs.

I know that feeling of having so many balls in the air that I can't catch any of them. Hope it soon passes.

Mary Witzl said...

I've just gotten out of that wind tunnel myself and I could hardly be happier about it.

For years, I used to rely on journals I wrote in. Then one year, I had to move a box of them (18 in all) up a couple of flights of stairs and now they've lost their appeal. Strange, but true: my inner lazy self triumphed over my inner 'only paper will do' Luddite.

Eryl said...

Constance ~ you are so right. I am beginning to disentangle the awesome multitude now I've had my little wail here. Tomorrow when I read through my old tutoring notes I will think of them as carrots and eggs!

You do pretty well on the writing front, much better than I would do with paint and fabric and all the other lovely things you use to create your works.

Philip ~ you turned up the wind by throwing the story idea into the tunnel. That was my thinking, anyway, though by giving me that to focus on you actually helped clear my thoughts.

I really like your story and will come back and read it again tomorrow. Particularly liked the way it ended, it took me by surprise but fitted perfectly.

Weaver ~ now that I've blogged about it I feel much better and more in control: a problem shared and all that.

You could click on the link in the post and it will take you straight to Art Box Designs. They're definitely worth a look.

Mary ~ you're completely out of the wind tunnel, well done that woman?!

I half use my computer for journaling now I have this one with it's lovely keyboard and drag and drop document software, so I can see the day when I no longer need paper journals coming. It always takes me a while to make a complete switch: for years I used both a paper appointments diary and an electronic one. I got my first electronic one for my birthday in 2001, this was the first year I didn't buy a paper one too. I haven't missed it at all.