More writing exercises: 400 words

Just As I Am

A keyboard in front of me – dusty (I really must clean more), a buzzing computer and a pile of papers in front of my screen. This is all clutter to be cleared. Sitting in an office chair, wearing thermal trousers (pants, as the Americans call them) and a blue Bear Grylls top. Active wear for a not so active activity.

Some sadness and some relief – an ending , a journey , a struggle. Post lunch fatigue, post assignment apathy. Having come from smart advice from a smart, successful and disciplined writer, and feeling that coming to this task ahead of me, I bring nothing. No smart idea, no brilliant revelation, no witticisms or wisdom, or tragic disclosure. A half hour or so tap tap tapping.

A reminder that the printer isn’t working. A jam leaving half eaten snatches of paper ripped to shreds in unreachable parts and unmapped locations where inky fingers fear to poke and prod. Another prevarication, another writer’s block. Not block but jam. And jam still in the crevices of my fingernails after an unwanted spillage discovery on the kitchen surface just before lunch. Before scrambling the eggs, and toasting of bread. That chattering mind, that monkey on the back. Sit and be still.

Sit and be quiet.

Sit and be.

Tortoise slow and hibernation dull, a reflection on proof reading, editing, ghost writing, creative verse and poetry, sports writing, journalism and blogging. Creating content, selling ideas, apps and websites all designed for this strange and tortuous practice of writing. For pleasure, for profit, for fun and out of boredom. To expose, to reflect, to analyse and opine. Words on paper, words on screen, doodles and hastily written snatches of conversation or half noticed observations. All the better to see you with.

A countdown is ending. A journey is coming to a close. This discomfort shall pass. There are deadlines ahead – more words to find, more corrections to make, more dreams to catch, make or break.

Outdoor wear for an inner adventure. A somatic awareness of the aches and pains of the tap tap tap. The anticipation of ending, of relief, of … success? And yet those words of advice, the difference between competitive and competition. Making comparisons and trying toavoid comparisons. The challenge to motivate, to coach and be coached, to discipline and to drive.And the urge to sit and be quiet.

To sit and be.

Tap tap tap.

A Walk To Clear Your Mind

The buzzing is too much. Voices, shouting deadlines and ideas and the noise of a chattering mind. The fear of failing, the critical inner voice, shouting so much louder than all the their books and novels and articles and blogs and evidence of what has already being achieved. But it’s not happening now and it’s not happening fast enough. At the moment there are no publication dates, no deadlines, no cheering editors or publishers clamouring for more work. No delicious reviews, no awards ceremonies, no writer’s panels or reading events or interviews or proposals.

It all seems blank.

The screen, the paper, the mind. All blank.

I rise, weary from doing nothing, from being and knowing nothing, and slip into a heavy coat with this heavy frame of mind, and take heavy footsteps towards the closed and locked front door. I turn the lock, slowly open the door into a cold, wet, scary Real World. The World outside my front door.

A slow dismount of the stairs. I lean on the wall for company, for support and reassurance. Slumping my way down it like a drunk from a Saturday night stag do, barely aware of who or where I am. A rush of cold air passes over me from the stairwell, an unwelcome reminder that it is still the darkness of winter and that summer is many months away. Perhaps, this year, it never will arrive, and we shall stay covered with snow and dark skies.

The hill is steep, an uphill struggle, and I clamour for breath as my heart beats hard and fast with the struggle to put one foot in front of the other. progress is made and at the top I stop, gasping, and bent over. Further steps, with feet so heavy, tired muscles unworked, avoiding the foul shit of dogs and pigeons and police horses and discarded johnnies full of spend seed and fast food wrappers and cartons and litter, newspaper articles and postings for lost pets and feather from birds mauled by feral cats and rabid dogs. All this detritus of man and nature, an unholy mess outside my front door.

I stumble, broken, bleary, exhausted, to the bottom of the hill. A bridge over dark water. I lean on the curving wall, and close my eyes. I breathe, and feel the coming spring sun on my face. I hear rooks and the cackling of magpies and the improvised song of blackbirds, the gruff coo of a wood pigeon, and the distant rush of traffic.

And I breathe freely.

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Things to do on a wet day (a creative writing exercise)

 

Drops on the window. Who needs the shrill cry of an alarm clock. A deluge now awaits me outside.

At first, in bed, a reluctance to get out from the warm womb, to enter a wet and miserable daytime. Memories of the kitchen flooding last week, the drip drip drip of water from lighting sockets and that dreadful feeling that the roof will bulge, become pregnant with puddled water, and suddenly burst. Waters breaking to give birth to nothing but water.  A drip becomes a torrent. A torrent becomes a flood. From the flat above, drenching the kitchen floor again. Damned mops and towels. Damned plumbers and insurance.

Calm down, calm down. That was then and this is now. The rain is outside. It’s on the window. A hypnotic tap tap tap. Let it lull you back to sleep, to calm you like a warm bath. Spring is coming. The rain is watering roots, feeding half dead tubers and bulbs, satiating the ground’s dry thirst after a long and lonely winter.

You are warm, you are dry. Today has no agenda. There is no fear needed. There is the gym, a wet walk to the powerhouse, to the usual regimes of weights, and cardio, of warming up and cooling down. Stretches and shakes. An hour, three times a week, four when it feels good. A regime. A healthy interest.  A habit, a lifestyle, a life-saver.

And the writing. Not a whole book in a single wet day. But some notes, some exercises. That Business Writing Diploma that’s taking forever. Those assignments that seem so dull and insurmountable. On a wet day, amidst the dullness and the creeping bleak mist, an expanse of light and sunshine – distant worlds, far off worlds, remembered worlds, imagined worlds.

All of which are sensible things to do on a wet day. Yes, yes, all sensible, all a good use of time. If I can get out of this bed. This warm, warm, dry bed. A tempting home for the day. Other things too. Other stay at home things – a movie, a DVD, a bake (some lemons still in the box – that gin and tonic drizzle cake I’ve got the recipe for and always wanted tot try). Or into town, a wet wait at the bus stop, then a bus ride smelling damp hair and wiping the condensation from the window to watch th passing gloom. To the flicks. To shop til I drop. To brunch and to afternoon tea with cream cakes and lace tablecloths, sandwiches cut into triangle with no crusts.

Or none of this. A devil may care, break-all-the-rules, throw-caution-to-the-wind spontaneity. I could jump out and break free. Break the routine. Strip away all of my dull sleepy clothes, open the door as naked as the day I was born, embrace the world, its disappointments, its wet misery, its gloom and pessimism  – and  Go Dancing,  Naked In The Rain.