Until then, we’ll have to muddle through somehow…
My sister Becky quoted this line (on Zoom, of course. Where else do we talk these days?) as ‘very Christmas 2020.’
Some of us muddled-through before this year: I myself started muddling-through around 2004.
The festive season can become rigid: we always go to this house, we always eat this meal with these people, we watch this film, listen to this music. I’m so sorry if your set pieces are not possible this year.
Maybe we can use this time to think about our Christmas days. Perhaps we’ll go back to our set pieces next year, joyfully. Perhaps we’ll make new traditions that serve us better.
Meanwhile, as an official muddle-representative, I would like to extend a warm welcome to all new muddlers, est. 2020.
tinylife will be back on 17 January.
Back to normal.
Back to normal by the Spring, they’re saying.
And most of me is delighted,
don’t get me wrong,
I’m in no rush to succumb to a deadly virus,
or bury a loved one,
and I miss the few friends I have left,
and I want to eat cake at Naked Bakery
and wander around Edinburgh again
and visit my sisters
(so I can argue with them face to face instead of online)
and talk to poets
and listen to their poems.
But I’m also thinking
‘what do I want to keep
of this not-normal?’
This slowing-down, even further,
staying in touch only with those that matter,
making things accessible to those who are always home,
no duty events
sloughing off those expectations
– it’s time we visited, we haven’t been for ages –
being home, Saturday, Sunday.
Bit of an obvious start for a writer, I know.
And sure, Biden isn’t a UK president elect, Nor is Harris our future vice-president. So why did I watch both of their acceptance speeches and cry?
I found the transcripts online – these aren’t off-the-cuff remarks, these are crafted works of oral history. And I thought if there is a word in these speeches, it’s there because it is deliberate, chosen. But I’m scrolling through and there was a word Biden used, over and over, that isn’t in the draft.
Yeah, maybe it’s just how Biden talks. But it is one of the best ways to describe a group of people, because it doesn’t leave anyone out.
Words matter. The words you choose, matter.
They tell people who you include, and who you are happy to leave out.
It’s weird, I only spent just over a year in full-time academia, and yet September is still my ‘new beginnings’ month.
January is just lentils and baked beans and NO FUN until pay day, am I right?
This year is even more special because since the beginning of the summer we’ve moved house, and both kids are at new schools.
And I’d love to tell you I’m turning over a new leaf – that all the rest of the ‘stuff’ is in the past – that I’m going to stay well and, um, whine less.
But everyone knows you can’t run away from yourself.
What I now like to refer to as ‘my trauma’ has come with me, and is enjoying the new house just as much as I am. We are working together, and hoping to feel better soon.
There is no news about my second novel.
Here is the news about my second novel.
I was very fortunate to meet a lovely agent who read the whole thing, and she really liked it. This was beyond exciting! She had loads of great feedback too, including ‘what’ it is (a comedy) and what the main themes are (parenting insecurity, female rivalry, the pressure felt by, and put on, children).
I re-wrote the draft with all her comments and observations. This is draft 15, but it’s very similar to drafts 7 and 8, (except draft 7 was in the present tense, of course).
Then I did that thing I always do when I’m nearing the end of a redraft. I slow right down because I’m afraid to finish. But I did finish. It’s 10k words longer and it’s back on submission. Wish me luck!
I have never been patient.
I want it yesterday. I rush things and make silly mistakes in them.
I thought thirteen drafts would be enough. But it’s not.
I’ve been working on my second novel for two years now, and it’s not ready. I had the amazing opportunity to pitch it to a literary agent last weekend, and she told me exactly what was missing, what I still need to do.
Of course I would have loved to have been told that it was ready, and that I should start submitting! I’m OK though. It’s worth it. This novel is literally the best idea I’ve ever had for a book, if I’m going to get representation, I feel it’s my best chance.
And it is teaching me about writing. It’s a marathon, not a sprint.
You have to become patient.
The first few flakes were expected. She dusted them off and kept writing. Later, as drifts of rejection letters built up, she was told to be patient. There were no short cuts. No-one owed her anything. Of course, she had always known there would be snow, it was a given, it was part of the deal.
Later, her voice muffled by the expanding polar landscape, she struggled on, through piles of ‘no thank yous,’ and ‘please do submit agains.’ It became harder and harder to lift her feet above their pull and drag, like she was treading cold sand.
In the end, her voice petered out, and her words got lost in the wind. No one realised she could have changed something for one person. Someone else, looking out at the sleety dawn, today, and wondering whether she should try.
‘I’m just emailing to see if you’d like to have an event at the Hub.’
This is a special feeling. I spend a lot of our time creating my own opportunities, submitting, asking to be included. Often, the answer is no answer. Often, the answer is ‘no thank you, please try again.’ Sometimes the answer is yes – an amazing feeling. But the question coming from someone else? This was a new one, a welcome addition to my writing experience.
So I am curating an event at Humbie Hub, with writer R L McKinney. It’s just over a month away, and I’m not as nervous as I am excited. We’ve planned such a great night, of stories, songs and STOVIES*. Please use the contact page if you’d like tickets. Or you can get them at the Hub!
*a traditional Scottish dish
‘How long until we need to pick Dan up?’
‘An hour and…forty minutes. We’ve got time to go and swap those trousers, if you like.’ The ‘skinny’ jeans from Asda hung off my oldest’s thighs.
We arrived and swapped the voluminous trousers for a gift card. Because my oldest is currently identifying as gender non-conforming, we started at what we call the ‘so called’ girls section.
Nothing that sparked an interest.
So we checked the so-called boys section.
Nothing. Unless you count the flicker on a tiger T shirt which wasn’t available for anyone over five.
‘I’m sorry. I’m taking so long,’ my child said.
‘It’s not your fault.’
There was nothing there for an individual that wasn’t a girly girl, or a boyish boy.
I just hope that the whole world isn’t going to be like that.
It’s Easter Sunday, and he is risen.
I don’t realise that I hold a strong faith, until this rolls around again, and I clear my diary to come to Church on a Friday, and then twice on Sunday – including the early service in the garden, where the birds make more noise than the children and we share communion on dew soaked grass.
He is risen.
I don’t pretend there aren’t other paths and I would fight for your right to follow whichever one you want. For me, knowing that Jesus suffered physical and mental torture means that he walks with me in my tinylife.
He is risen.
Acknowledging this cycle: birth, death and everything in-between, in a Springtide when the world regenerates itself, reminds me to keep going – one foot in front of the other.
He is risen indeed. Alleluia!