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

Thursday, September 25, 2014

I've been reading a bit about the idea of home in recent weeks, while also suffering from a bout of "home-shame". I periodically get really self-conscious about the messy, crazy state of our house and what this says about the crazy, messy life we lead. I'm not much of a house-keeper: I'd rather cook or read or write or talk than clean. Someone told me that they find cleaning calming, but I find it infuriating. Once you start, you can't stop (or at least I can't) and suddenly everything is vile and needs to be dealt with immediately. Too boring. Plus whenever I attempt to clean, my kids want to "help" or take advantage of the distracted mum and trash some other part of the house. Seriously, it is hardly worth the bother.  Then, there's the fact that most of our furniture has been picked up from the verge or purchased from Gumtree; the rest is, of course, Ikea. It is mismatched, clunky, often falling to pieces, or missing parts (my desk with only three drawers), and generally a little odd. Factor in my obsession with colour (some kind of reaction to my architect parents and their love of muted greys and blues) and anything Mexican, and you have a brightly patterned, clashing clown-house. I read that a home is "a place we can never see with a stranger's eyes for more than a moment" but when we do, what a shock it is! I feel that our house might not be that of a grown-up: it kind of resembles my teenage bedroom spread out to fill an entire house and with the addition of lots of crappy plastic toys. I look at the houses of my friends, and they have beautiful and carefully selected furniture, and gorgeous artwork on the walls, and curtains that have been hemmed, and proper kitchens with dishwashers and all that jazz. But still, I love our home. It is a refuge for me and an extension of my self, and I guess that makes me a little crazy and rather messy. I can live with that.

Tuesday, September 2, 2014

I started my PhD two weeks ago and, of course, nothing much has changed in my life, except now I have this ticking time bomb of a deadline (albeit one that is very far away). I decided and declared that I would write 500 words every day because I've realised that writing regularly, even if it is totally crap, is the best way for me to keep my mind in the fictional world of whatever I'm working on. I started off pretty well, making up for the odd day when I didn't quite hit the word count, with a few hundred extra in my next session. Then life got crazy and it all kind of fell apart, and I didn't manage to write anything for four days. I started having horrible, self-doubting thoughts about my ability to do anything very well. But I know these thoughts are part of motherhood and of the creative process, and I'm just trying to roll with it. I think I'm probably going to aim to bang out 500 words every two days, so I don't have to exist in a perpetual state of failure! It's not a nice place to be.

I've also come to the realisation that I need either noise or music to write; the quietness of the library just doesn't cut it. I love the hustle and bustle of a cafe, so long as the conversations are a steady hum, and not too loud or interesting to distract me. Music has always been a really important part of my writing process, and is even more so now that I'm making myself sit down and write, even when I really don't feel like it. A little while ago, I read this article that proposed pairing together albums and books. I found it an intriguing idea, but one that doesn't really work for me, perhaps because I never listen to music when I read. Writing and music is a different matter entirely. When I'm working on a story or a novel, I become obsessed with a particular album or artist, and listen to them exclusively whenever I write. With my first novel, I listened to Amy Winehouse, Nina Simone and Edith Piaf. Nothing else would do! My protagonist was in a very dark and desperate place and maybe these women with their complicated love lives and depth of suffering, were able to transport me into her mindset. This time, I'm still trying to figure out what gets me to that place I need to be...

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