wild dreams of achievement

Monday, 30 September 2013

‘...it occurs to me that there is a proper balance between not asking enough of oneself and asking or expecting too much. It may be that I set my sights too high and so repeatedly end a day in depression. Not easy to find the balance, for if one does not have wild dreams of achievement, there is no spur even to get the dishes washed. One must think like a hero to behave like a merely decent human being.’
~ from May Sarton’s ‘Journal of a Solitude’ (1973)

I came across this passage this afternoon and oh yes, I know what she’s talking about.  

I’ve started studying again, this time as a postgraduate student (I’m doing* a Creative Writing Master of Research: quite exciting). I’ll need to learn how to make realistic writing plans over the next few months. I tend to be ridiculously ambitious and then beat myself up later for not achieving the impossible.

*Note: ‘“doing” a Creative Writing Master of Research’ sounds a bit clumsy, but I thought “undertaking” made it sound a bit grandiose. Ah, language: it's a tricky thing. And here I am, trying to dance with it.

(Picture taken one hot summer night this July.)

three (or four) recent noticings

Friday, 27 September 2013


Noticed Thing #1: I overheard two girls in Tesco the other week debating what kind of crisps to buy for their movie night in. Girl One was balancing a 2 litre bottle of Coke on her hip like a baby. Girl Two seemed more interested in picking off the last of her pastel green nail varnish than anything else. 

GIRL ONE: [tilting her head back to look at all the crisp packets on the shelf] "So... Pringles Cheese and Chive? Or Sensations Thai Sweet Chilli?"  
GIRL TWO: [shrugging, not looking up] "I dunno. I’m not a big fan of those ‘Sensations’, though."
GIRL ONE: [swivelling round to look her friend in the eye] "Aye, you say that now – but you didn’t say anything when you were fair tuckin’ into mine last week."

Ha!


Noticed Thing #2: We bought a particularly delicious batch of nectarines towards the start of September (a bundle of nectarines? A bunch of nectarines? A bevy? A bouquet? A brood? I’m not sure of the right collective noun). They were juicy and sweet, and I ate quite a lot of them (sometimes in a row). 

One day, after consuming my second nectarine of the morning, I hopped through to my brother’s bedroom to try and encourage him to try one also. Only, once I got there, I couldn’t for the life of me remember the word: ‘nectarine’. It had completely vanished – poof! – from my head. So I ended up standing awkwardly in his doorway, mouthing fruit names – "apricot, peach, pear, plumb" – until – "pineapple, tangerine, nectarine – yes!" – I found the word I was looking for.


I’m finding this happening quite a lot recently. Words hide from me in the middle of sentences, causing me to falter and then fumble about with synonyms or vague descriptions or hand gestures to try and get my point across. The words I need appear a little-too-late in my mind. Strange.

Noticed Thing #3: Yesterday, while I was in the library writing notes on Daphne du Maurier’s Rebecca (amazing, amazing book), I saw a man walk in through the front door carrying a yellow banana in his hand, and a toddler in his back-pack. They were as bald as each other, with the same wide-eyed expression, and the two of them made me think, smilingly, of monkeys



...which then, in turn, reminded me of this poem by Carol Ann Duffy (see below) which has always made me laugh. It comes from her collection of poems, The World’s Wife, where she looks anew at famous male figures throughout history, literature, etc and retells something of their story through the eyes of the women associated with them, women who have typically been forgotten about.
Mrs Darwin 
7th April 1852
Went to the Zoo.
I said to Him–
Something about that Chimpanzee over there reminds me of you.

(These pictures, I think, could count as a Noticed Thing #4. They were all taken fairly recently on my phone while on various commutes to work and Glasgow and back.)

like, like, like

Tuesday, 10 September 2013


Too too true. (Picture from Marc John's blog ). I despair at my own overuse of this irritating word (the linguistic equivalent of a bluebottle). I'm not quite sure how to stop saying it so much, though. It just slips out, without permission, making everything I say sound quite tentative and teenager-y. 

(On a similar note, watch: this.)
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