makar [ˈmækər]
n (Literature / Poetry) Scot a creative artist, esp a poet
[a Scot variant of maker]

Wednesday, August 28, 2013

I've been thinking about identity lately and how we can get stuck with a sense of ourselves that is no longer true. There are parts of us that stay the same and parts that change, but our notion of who we are can sometimes be fixed and possibly prevent us from moving on or trying new directions. Both my husband and I had a particular (and very different) vision of the kind of person we wanted to be and the sort of life we wanted to lead. Most of the time, I think we're at peace with the fact that things haven't turned out like that but sometimes, like everyone, we get frustrated and wonder, what if? There are aspects that we still cling to and of which we should perhaps let go. It's really hard to alter your perception of yourself and to accept that the traits you thought defined your identity might no longer be true or relevant. Becoming a parent has changed my understanding of everything, including myself. Being tested in ways I never imagined has revealed parts of my personality that I didn't know existed, while having to revisit my own childhood anxieties and social issues through my children has forced me to face emotions buried long ago. There are times when I feel a bit lost; it's difficult to find the clarity to work out who you are and what you want. A very good friend said to me the other day: "You are a writer. It's just that right now, you're doing this [meaning motherhood]". It feels pretty all-consuming  and I'm struggling to locate an identity beyond that of mama. But that's okay. I just need to remember that I am something else. And to hold on.


Wednesday, August 21, 2013

I've been working on a novel (the first one having been consigned to the bottom drawer) for a few years now. I never get to spend big chunks of time writing and sometimes weeks go by and I hardly even think about it. But I know there is something there because I keep returning to it and I cannot let it go. However it's hard to get back into a story when you have such considerable breaks between writing sessions, so I have the following quotations pinned to the noticeboard above my desk. They draw me back into the world I'm creating and remind me of the ideas on which I will build the novel. It's about home and what it means to find or create one. I'm the daughter of an architect and a designer and I have been obsessed with this theme for as long as I can remember. I don't know if these quotations will make it into the novel but they're helping me to write it.


"Every wall is a door."
Ralph Waldo Emerson

“The body is a house of many windows: there we all sit, showing ourselves and crying on the passers-by to come in and love us.”
Robert Louis Stevenson

“How often have I lain beneath rain on a strange roof, thinking of home.”
William Faulkner

“We build too many walls and not enough bridges.”
Isaac Newton

“Do not worry if you have built your castles in the air. They are where they should be. Now put the foundations under them.”
Henry David Thoreau

“Design is not making beauty, beauty emerges from selection, affinities, integration, love.”
Louis Kahn








Sunday, August 18, 2013

I've been fretting over whether my blog has turned into a total whinge fest! My life after all is pretty good and I really don''t have all that much to complain about. When I first started reading blogs, the ones that really inspired me were those that presented a positive outlook on motherhood and in particular staying-at-home with young children. All those beautiful blogs seemed like such a wonderful antidote to the pervading negativity in the press. It made me feel that what I was doing was a good thing and something that I could throw myself into. But I can't pretend it's all chai lattes, organic gardening and craft projects. My days are chaotic and monotonous and very frustrating. To present it as anything else would be a bit ridiculous. Neither do I have any agenda when writing this blog. I want a space to vent; to express whatever is on my mind; and finally just to write because I need to. Writing for my blog is very different from my fiction writing but it is all that I can manage most of the time.

I bumped into a friend in the street the other day. I hadn't seen her for ages, despite having children of a similar age and living only about 10 minutes apart. She is a single mum of two, who is studying full-time. After we'd chatted for a bit, she asked me what I was doing these days. I was so taken aback by the question that I laughed and said, "Nothing, I'm uh just looking after the kids". I hate that I replied in this way; that I didn't think to mention the other things I do because they don't seem important; and that I referred to taking care of the children as "nothing". I work really hard every day (and night) - much harder than I ever have in a paid job - and anything else I manage to do is a bonus and a minor miracle. I need to stop apologising for myself and the choices I have made. And also to maybe whinge a little bit less.



Sunday, August 11, 2013


I'm wildly ambitious about what I hope to achieve each evening. Once the kids are in bed and the kitchen cleaned, I sit down (in bed - this house is freezing!) with a huge cup of tea, my laptop, my stack of books, a sketchbook, my knitting, a magazine or newspaper all spread out around me. Every night I fall asleep with a sense of disappointment because inevitably I have fallen short of my plans. I am torn between the need to make the most of this small stretch of uninterrupted time - the quiet and the focus that is only possible for me when the kids are asleep - and my physical exhaustion pulling me down. I stay up way too late but I need this time for my sanity. It's been a rough few weeks - four days of solo parenting that ended with my three year old breaking his arm after falling from the climbing frame, and then a sick, teething and very grumpy baby, who doesn't seem to be able to sleep for more than two hours at a stretch. It will get easier, it will get easier, it will... right?

Sunday, August 4, 2013

Photographs from my five year old...













Friday, August 2, 2013

My daughter loves to draw. She reaches for pen and paper before she eats her breakfast; her notebook sleeps beside her bed. She fills every available moment with sketching and colouring and writing. It is fascinating to observe her imagination unfurling onto the page. I think about how much I like to draw; how I have always filled notebooks with words and doodles, and about how rarely I do so now. I wonder at what point we stop grabbing those little moments and making them into something special. There is so much talk about children and screen-time, and yet so many of us turn our attention towards a screen every spare second that we can, filling up our precious time with nonsense. While my daughter draws at the kitchen worktop, I do not reach for my phone but scrawl down on a crumpled sheet of paper these sentences:

"I keep wondering how much happier we'd all be if we spent those in-between times drawing or writing on scraps of paper, instead of staring into screens and searching for answers or meaning in the ephemera of other people's lives. Those scraps could be the beginning: winged seedpods of the imagination, swirling into the blue. How we could soar on the hope that some might grow big."

Perhaps I do have time to make art; to write or sketch. It's just that it's shattered time. I have to find the pieces; to use them wisely and imaginatively. To bring together those shards to create something cohesive.


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