Thursday, April 09, 2020

notes to self :: corona edition

1. try not to be an asinine racist. even if you're frustrated. and tired. and shot through with the anxiety of the whole world, which because of some kind of connection to the whole (capital w) that pema chodron claims you should be thankful for, you are utterly in tune to. and which is actually freaking you the fuck out.

2. try not to sit at your desk all day, never getting up to pee or eat lunch, having one online meeting after another, recording some of them with camtasia because they're not really meetings, but software tests and then not really editing that much because there's no time and you really have to pee. try not to send evidence of your asinine racism to other people because you didn't edit the damn video and you have too many notifications turned on. and seriously, just refer to #1 and don't be an asinine racist in the first place. shame on you.

3. try to go outside. go for a walk. skip around the lawn. jump rope for half an hour. lie on a quilt under the big red maple tree and stare at the sky. whatever you do, just. go. outside. now. well, not now, now, because you should really be in bed.

4. get some sleep.

5. don't read all. the. news. and whatever you do, don't listen to it, because then you will hear that spray-tanned satan's voice. and this will not help with #4.

Wednesday, April 01, 2020

corona time - things i love about working from home

this coronavirus and all of the attendant orders to stay at home and socially distance can wear a bit thin. i'll admit my ability to cope with the anxiety it causes very much goes up and down. just when i think i have it under control and am on an even keel, then a headline or a podcast or a conversation with my sister catches me off guard and the rollercoaster goes rushing down. dang, that was a lot of mixed metaphors. i'm finding that the very best thing for it is getting my sleep. in order to do that, i have to not read the entirety of the nytimes and wapo on my phone before i go to sleep. and today, i've been trying to think about the things i love about working from home.

  1. not having to decide what to wear in the morning - i can stay in comfy pajamas, throw on a sweater and scarf, maybe brush my hair and i'm good to go.

  2. the companionship of the cats. they come around for a treat or a little snuggle and a few minutes of purring and we all feel better.
  3. not having to put on makeup. just a little moisturizer is all i need.

  4. playing doorwoman to the cats. bob goes out in the morning, and wants in for his midday nap around 10-10:30, then out again around 4.

  5. stopping to make myself a latte. i heat milk in a pan and make two shots of espresso in my little top moka espresso maker. i froth the milk with a little wand from ikea until it's super frothy and lovely. while i'm standing there, hearing the steamy sounds of the coffee expelling into the cups and smelling the rich smell, i think about the little coffee roaster in trieste where i get my coffee. they send it to me now, but i think of being in their shop. and i think about sabin and how the espresso shouldn't sit for longer than ten seconds or it will go bitter, so i always have the frothed milk ready to pour it right in. i love the ritual of it. i love taking the small break it means to make it and i love thinking fondly of travels and my child while i do it.

  6. when i need a breath of fresh air, i just go out the back door, take a little walk around, talk to the outdoor kitties, maybe have a quick conversation with the hens (or chase them out of the back terrace, where the little weirdos love to come in and eat some cat food), and then go back to work.

  7. taking a little break for lunch - sitting down out in the new kitchen with a sandwich or some leftovers and a glass of cold milk and having a little break away from the computer (i'm not really good enough at this one).
i do find that i tend to skip breaks and sit hunched over my computer for far too long, but i'm trying, in making this list, to remind myself that it's ok to enjoy those small breaks during the day. and my work will be the better for it. 

* * *

this story of a bible that supposedly oozed oil in a small georgia town says so much about today. and i fear none of it is good.

Monday, March 16, 2020

comfort baking and other effects of the coronavirus

these are very strange times. companies asking everyone to work at home, restaurants and bars closed, public gatherings limited, libraries and other "non-essential" public services closed as well, at least here in denmark. i laughed when i first heard the term "social distancing" last week, thinking that the danes had perfected that long ago, so it would be nothing new around here. but it's not really the time for ironic laughter. the fact is, we owe it to those in our society who are immune compromised or in a high risk category in relation to the virus because of their age, to stay home and not risk exposing them the virus, should we be walking around with it, not knowing we even have it because we are asymptomatic.

just a few weeks ago, i was thinking that life had to go on more or less normally because living in fear is no way to live. so we went to barcelona as planned months ago, to meet up with the child and have a holiday together. i think if we'd known then what we know now, we would have canceled the trip. that said, i'm very glad to have had the time together. i'm glad to have seen the salvador dali museum in figueres, la sagrada familia, park güell and other gaudi buildings around barcelona, the maritime museum and the picasso museum. i'm glad to have found a super cute local bar, cuba de janiero,  that became our nightly hangout. i'm glad we ate ramen twice and tried the patatas bravas in every tapas place we went to and discovered the coolest healthy breakfast place and explored all those thrift shops. i guess if i had it to do over again, i'd still go. i wouldn't trade that time with husband and sabin for anything. it fits my lifelong ethos of "what are you gonna remember?"

none of us seems to be getting sick, so perhaps we were even lucky (knock on wood). spain too is on lockdown now, with curfews and closed restaurants and bars. i don't think barcelona is hit that hard as of yet, it's madrid and the canary islands that are fighting the battle, so perhaps we just chose the right destination. but denmark's borders are more or less closed now too, so we are lucky we got home as well.

and in the middle of all of this, i started a new job. late last week, when i started, there were no restrictions and social distancing had just been coined as a phrase, so i went to the office as planned. we had a team breakfast so i could meet everyone and i got a bouquet of flowers, which is always the tradition in denmark. and then, on friday, the word came down that we should work at home from monday and for the foreseeable future. that was a little bit weird, to have been in the company for two days and not even have everyone's names straight and have to be on my own at home.

so, i began this post this morning, before my working-at-home day started, and now, i'm writing at the end of it. it absolutely flew by, filled with countless online meetings via skype and teams. i definitely did not have to worry that i wouldn't be included or have anything to do. i have been cast into the middle of a very exciting, business-critical project that's been put in motion due to the effect the coronavirus is having on trade. what a great way to jump into things with both feet and and not waste any time. i'm finding it very energizing and it's very encouraging to see how very skilled my new colleagues are at their jobs. i'm impressed and feel very much that i have landed in the right place, even though i'm not actually able to go there right now.

i've read that the coronavirus is having a big affect on CO2 levels and pollution in china and in italy, where things have been brought to a standstill. and i can see firsthand the affect its having on ways of doing business. i wonder if it's going to make us rethink the way we do all kinds of things? and i wonder if those new habits will stay with us - will we travel less? will we cook more at home? will we keep stockpiling toilet paper? will the danes continue to hoard yeast? will we continue to engage in comfort baking? so many questions. not the least of which is, how long is this going to go on?

* * *

tough times call for historical fiction, like daniel kehlmann's tyll

Wednesday, March 04, 2020

history is a matter of perspective

the angle taken by a museum is very often through the lens of where it's located. we went to the maritime museum in barcelona yesterday. since i'm currently writing about the long voyage from amsterdam to the cape in 1723, i'm very keen on learning i can about what ships and life on ships were like back then. i didn't exactly learn that at the maritime museum in barcelona.

it was a beautiful building, almost danish in its skillful combination of old and new architecture. the main feature was a 60-meter long replica of a galley, an oared warship, made to fight the ottomans in the mediterannean in the 1500s. those oarsmen were slaves and did not have a good life. the captain, however, did, with fine inlaid wood floors and art up in the quarters on the stern, from which he dictated the battle. it was elaborately decorated with both painting and carved reliefs. there was a medusa's head on the back, to strike terror in all who approached from the back. the figurehead was a beautiful carved neptune, riding a fish and covered in gold leaf, showing undoubted dominion over the sea.

it was a confusing exhibition, and hard to find the way through to see all of the exhibits. we finally did, but not in the right order of things and it did get a bit hazy as they leaped from those mediterranean incursions to trade with the americas. because they were focused on ships built in barcelona and the catalonian sailor in general, they skimmed over that whole thing with the spaniard columbus and his role in accidentally discovering the new world when he tried to find a new passage to india, undoubtedly because the spaniards couldn't keep up with the portugese and dutch on their well-established routes around the cape to the far east. (phew, that was a long sentence.)

there were displays about the trade with the new world and the goods that went back and forth - sugar, cotton, tobacco and yes, they even mentioned the slave trade. i think they handled it well. you stepped into a little room, where the walls were covered with official documents regarding the slave trade, and a whispered voice said that it was an ugly bit of history that no one really wished to talk about, but it needed to be done, and it was a dark time for humanity. those plantations in the american south could do with a bit of inspiration there.

and it all had me thinking, once again, about how history and how the story is told, is a matter of who is telling the story. maybe i need to head to amsterdam to hear their perspective, they must have a maritime museum there.

Thursday, February 27, 2020

flea market finds

i was thinking about how dependent on the location the items in a second hand store are. this bowl, which i saw at one of those flea market places, where individuals rent a shelf and put whatever they want there. it was in herning, which is arguably the middle of denmark. the tag on the bowl claimed it was french and it's true that it didn't look danish. if it hadn't had a big crack in it (not visible in this photo), i would have bought it, as i definitely felt it sparked joy.

i spotted this clarinet in the wonderful antique trove in scottsdale, az. i feel like i see a lot more instruments at antique places in the us. other than old pianos and organs, i just don't see that many musical instruments in the shops in denmark. i don't know if this is because less people play an instrument or because they keep them.

this red tray could easily have been denmark, but it was actually also at the antique trove in scottsdale. i'm kicking myself for not having bought it. it would have been awesome in my red kitchen.

this was definitely in the us. not that people didn't quilt in denmark, but patchwork quilts are also quite rare at the antique places here. you often see knitted and crocheted afghans, but very seldom do you run across any patchwork quilts. and especially not a yoyo quilt like this. that seems like it was very much an american style. i didn't buy this one, but i have one very similar that my great grandmother made. i hope it stays in the family and never finds its way into an antique place.

obviously, that lunchbox was spotted in the us. i ended up taking that tin toy bug home with me, so someday someone will probably find it in an antique place here in denmark and wonder how the heck that happened.

that yellow bowl is at an antique place in my hometown in south dakota. i love it so much, i've actually photographed it a couple of times. but it's $49, which isn't really so bad, but i always think it will take up too much space in my luggage or get broken along the journey, so i leave it behind, even if it definitely sparks joy in me.

this one is obviously very mid-mod danish. it was in the flea market in kolding. i am drawn to these designs, but i didn't buy this one. but it got me thinking about the whole question of the selection of goods available in a particular location. i'm definitely going to see what's in the second hand and antique shops of barcelona next week. i'll bet it's something completely different!

Tuesday, February 25, 2020

i have the discipline to write 750 words a day

for 37 days in a row, i have written a minimum of 750 words on i do usually more or less stop when i hit 750, but it's not always exact, i tend to finish my thought. and that means that as of today, i've written 30,729 words, 19,582 of them have been in february. i began mid-january. it's been very good, re-establishing a daily writing habit. i'm not sure how it slipped away from me the way it did and i'm grateful to have it back. i am very motivated by the badges you can achieve on the site. these are the ones i've gotten so far. in a few more days, i'll have the turquoise horse as well, for finishing the monthly challenge. maybe it's easier to complete when that month is the shortest one, but i've signed up for march as well, so i intend to continue.

and speaking of march, instead of my usual stream-of-consciousness, in march i'm going to write 750 words a day on our novel. whether i write a snippet of the story, or a character sketch or just a description of a location or try to capture a feeling, it will move us closer to shaping our story. it's time to get all those ideas that have been swirling in my head, fed by various readings, observations, discussions and research onto the page. this story isn't going to write itself and now i've proven that i can write at least 750 words per day. that adds up. i will have at least 23,250 at the end of march and that is definitely something.

Monday, February 24, 2020

ghost ship

photo from the Irish Times article
i'm a bit obsessed with the story of the M/V Alta, a ghost ship that washed up on a remote shore in ireland after last weekend's storm dennis. it was unmanned and had been abandoned and floating derelict in the atlantic for 17 months. it's 77 meters long, built in 1976 and last registered to an unknown company under tanzanian flag. its last voyage was said to be from greece to haiti, which seems a strange route. it had some kind of irreparable engine failure somewhere off bermuda and the 10-person crew (i cannot find any info about the nationality of said crew) first had supplies air-lifted to them and then was rescued by the US coast guard ahead of an oncoming hurricane in september 2018. the owner was supposed to tow the ship somewhere for repairs, but it seems that never happened. there are rumors that it was being towed to guyana when it was hijacked and then left to drift again. none of the reports mention what cargo was onboard at its abandonment, nor have i been able to learn the nationalities of the crew. it's all very mysterious. the last sighting of the ship was by a british navy vessel at some undisclosed location last august-september (they're very cagey about precisely when and where). in a couple of the articles, it was mentioned that it was sighted off africa and spain (possibly out near the azores or canaries?) in recent months. it must have been caught in the gulf stream and carried north. another article i read suggested it went north along the US coast and then crossed the Atlantic from higher up.

the other night at the bar, an old maersk captain came in and i asked him what he thought about it. he immediately grinned and said, "it's the flying dutchman!" - the legendary ghost ship! he also said that such vessels are not at all unusual. some nefarious character picks up a ship for cheap, hauls one illicit cargo - drugs, weapons, supplies that are under embargo, etc. - and then abandons the ship. it would stand to reason that sailing between greece and haiti, it could have had some unusual cargo on board, as that doesn't seem like a normal trade route. but, i wonder what happened to that cargo? perhaps the reports of the ship being towed to guyana are actually a rendezvous with another ship that offloaded the cargo and sailed off with it, leaving the ship.

it seems strange that the owner is so hard to trace and strangely enough, an owner seems to have presented themselves to the irish authorities and was awaiting verification. that could be anyone, wanting a ship - that was my brother-in-law's first idea, that we should claim it and then we'd have a ship - a 44-year-old ship that had been abandoned and drifting for a year and a half. when i showed the maersk captain the picture, he said, it was a "russer" - at least built in russia, just by looking at it. i haven't read that, but it could be. none of the articles have talked about earlier names or owners through the years, but there must have been many. i just can't stop thinking about it. there must be more to the story. so many unanswered questions.

if it was a nefarious owner, wanting to use it for one illicit cargo, i imagine the crew was filipino and i wonder what their fate was - how did they get back home if the owner had abandoned them and the ship? and what about the cargo? they hadn't yet reached their destination when they broke down, so there had to be a cargo on board. i'm imagining all kinds of stories for this! maybe i need to work in such a storyline to our story. we have lumke's voyage in 1723 and a contemporary voyage - hmmm, how to connect them? or is this a whole new story? i was always fascinated by the kursk sinking as well and voraciously read everything about that back when it happened. if you told that story, you'd want them to be rescued though, as the ending there wasn't a good one for everyone on board. that was in putin's early days and he didn't handle that very well - he handled it like a KGB agent, not a leader.

but, back to the alta. what was it that broke down and couldn't be fixed? were there no spares on board, so the crew couldn't get it running again, or was it a cheap, third-rate crew that didn't have the know-how? the owner, wanting it for just the one voyage, didn't plan on needing to repair it. anyway, it's all very interesting and would be a story worth telling - even if i have to make up most of the details.


new information from marine traffic - it was panama flag, not tanzania. and there is a list of the names the ship has had...

very weird with a norwegian flag and name after the alta name...this story is so very curious.

wait! more from marine traffic: "She was also in the news in 1983 when she sank off Norway. Raised and repaired she continued trading." this story gets better and better!

Friday, February 21, 2020

another attempt at life drawing

these are from my second attempt at life drawing. as you can see, we had a female model the second time around. i found it harder than the first time. i had a lot more trouble letting go and freeing up my hand for the lines. kind of disconcerting that the best ones were the ones i did blind (not looking down at the paper) or mostly blind. that was the closest i came to letting go. i'm going to a yoga thing on sunday, so i'll miss this weekend's sunday morning life drawing session. looking at these results, maybe that's for the best.

Thursday, February 20, 2020

once upon a dark and stormy night

the rain just never stops, even hollister can't believe it, he's never seen anything like it in his little life. and the winds are back, so it really is a dark and stormy night out there. it seems like it's been raining for a month and the forecast for the week ahead looks bleak. it leaves me feeling dismal and i dream of escaping to somewhere that has sunshine. we are going to barcelona in a couple of weeks, but that seems like an eternity from now. i hope barcelona is practicing its sunshine, because i'm really going to need it. denmark has always been rainy - i remember my first november here, i don't think the sun shined once, the darkness and the rain were just as unrelenting as they are now. i remember that we went out to dinner one evening, riding our bikes, despite the rain. i foolishly wore a dress, it was a bit gauzy and romantic and had a better story than i did, because it was from the j. peterman catalog. it got caught in my bike chain and husband (who was just boyfriend at that point) had to kneel down in a puddle and get it unstuck because i was trapped. that made the rain a little more bearable - both his chivalry and a little bit his suffering. we've been doing all kinds of errands together this week, despite the rain - a trip to ikea, a visit to a fancy paint store where an old man hand-mixed two colors for us, followed by a dinner together at the burger shack (they have the best fries - with fluffy grated parmesan and fresh thyme on top). it's not the same as that long ago dark and rainy night, but it's pretty good. despite the rain.

on links and hands and the strange ways of grief

it seems that email newsletters are the new blogs and i found myself subscribing to edith zimmerman's drawing links some months ago after reading about it in the reply all newsletter (which is another very good one). anyway, edith (who seems to be much younger and more millennial than her name sounds) draws much of the newsletter as simple cartoon panels and they are very navel gazing and even a bit mundane, just as good old blogging was. maybe that's why i like it so much. as the name implies, she also always has some links to interesting things - book reviews, other newsletters, just generally interesting writing out there on the web.

without her, i probably wouldn't have found this thoughtful piece from the school of life on hands and the virtues of studying them closely. and of course, that made me think about my mom's hands (pictured here in a photo i've posted before). i can picture them on the steering wheel of the old blue stationwagon, air typing whatever thoughts flitted through her mind, or perhaps what the announcer was saying on the radio. i find myself doing that as well. her hands did so many things - repairs in the barn, a fancy hanging macrame table with glass top and fiery orange ceramic beads that i recall her making back in the 70s. i wish i had that table now, or at least the beads so i could recreate it, i wonder what ever happened to it? she buckled halters and harnesses on horses. she gripped the handlebars of her vast collection of bikes and rode them on long treks. in her later years, her hands became wrinkled and diminished, but i think they were actually still deceptively strong and capable, even as her mind grew weak and incapable. perhaps the piece is right that, "we might go so far as to say that if what we can colloquially call ‘the soul’ – that confluence of deep identity, vulnerability and singularity dwells anywhere, then it must be in the hands."  

my grief over the loss of my mother feels like a strange thing. i still haven't cried about it, i think because it was such a relief in some ways - the mother i knew was long gone for some time, but it comes to me in odd moments. the other day, a little shed that was housing some chairs and other things from the garden collapsed in the storm winds we had. i'd been feeding some of the wild kitties inside of a birdhouse sabin built in her woodworking class in the 6th grade that was standing under the shed. i poured the food into a little pink kitty bowl that was one of many that my mother bought at some point in a dollar store and which i brought home with molly, when i brought her back to denmark in 2012. the storm was raging with near-hurricane force winds and lashings of rain, but i suddenly panicked that both the bird house and that little pink bowl had been smashed. the dismay i felt at losing this stupid item, but which my mother had bought, was one of the strongest pangs of grief i'd felt so far. the thought that it was smashed and gone hit me hard, bringing home to me that my mother is also gone and i was despondent at the thought of losing this strange, small connection to her. so i donned my wellies and a coat and rushed out there to see if i could find the bowl and the bird house in the rubble. and it turned out that they were both fine - the bird house was knocked off its pole, but otherwise fine and the bowl flew into the grass, but was completely intact and not even chipped. relief flooded through me and i was almost embarrassed by how upset i'd been at the thought of losing that silly, cheap bowl. i had also been worried about the bird house, but knew that husband could fix that if it was broken. but the bowl could have been beyond repair. i've brought it in the house now and washed it and put it up in the cupboard where it's safe, a small piece of my mother, still intact.

Sunday, February 16, 2020

loads of links i want to save

it's stormy and raining (to the surprise of no one) and this
italian cioccolata calda is the perfect antidote.
i put a spoonful of mascarpone in mine.

* * *

i've joined a book club whose sole mission is to read ulysses, so i went looking for help, since i'm finding that it's nearly impossible.  wanted to save those links here:
  • wikihow's how to read ulysses - they have a lovely emphasis on enjoying the humor.
  • overcoming the fear of reading ulysses
  • "many novels are so challenging we never manage to finish them," rang a bell with me, thanks harvard
  • how to read ulysses, this time from roddy doyle at the guardian
  • also from the guardian, is ulysses the hardest novel to finish?
  • more advice on how to read ulysses, on medium
  • “there are two kinds of people. those that have read ulysses and those that haven't,” in the economist
  • this crazy person read it in a week! 
  • rereading ulysses (kinda counts for me, since i read some of it for a course 20 years ago)
  • everything you need to enjoy reading ulysses (goodness knows i need this) - has loads of great links! 
* * *

very interesting look at letter locking.

* * *

this piece on brexit becoming reality is everything.

Thursday, January 23, 2020

i wonder who made this tiny bicycle

i think about the person who bent and twisted this wire to make this tiny little bicycle. it's just one piece, so it's like one of those line sketches, where you draw the whole thing without the pencil leaving the page. it's slightly wonky, but it's also utterly wonderful in its tinyness and level of detail - the kickstand, the handlebars, the wheels and the chain, just a little wire doodle, but somehow perfect. i wonder if they made other things? i found this in a bowl of tiny things for 10kr. in a strange secondhand shop where we bought a little yellow boat. when i saw it, i knew i had to have it. it's very tiny, about 3cm is all. i keep it up on a high shelf, because i'm afraid the cats will play with it and then it will be lost underneath something or get vacuumed up because i don't see it on the floor. but it makes me smile whenever i see it. and i think about that person who made it, wondering how many attempts they made before making this perfect specimen. dozens? or perhaps they just got very lucky on the first try.

Monday, January 20, 2020

trying something new: life drawing

yesterday, i tried out croquis/life drawing for the first time. it's never really appealed to me before because i consider myself someone who doesn't draw people.

our local art group has started up a regular søndagscroquis here in the new year, ever other week, so i decided i'd go along to support it. i was surprised to find that i quite liked it.

as you can see, we had a male model. he was tall, middle-aged and totally naked. it was amazing how quickly you forget about that and just look for the shapes and the lines, sketching quickly. we did a number of exercises - warming up in the start with him changing position every 30 seconds, hence some of these pages having several versions on one page.

i actually liked the quick changing of positions better than when he posed for longer. i found that i couldn't keep drawing him in the same position for 10 minutes. or even 5. one minute was about right for me.

i think that all those horses i drew as a kid served me well in looking for the shapes and proportions. i don't think i ever completely let go of any tension i felt about drawing a person, but i stepped in that direction and i will definitely be going back again in two weeks.

Friday, January 17, 2020

on tricking myself into writing and finally reading ulysses

a big thank you to judith for turning me on to 750words. it's a site with a lovely blank canvas (weirdly less intimidating than an open, fresh word doc), where you attempt to write 750 words per day. i tried it out for the first time this morning and got to 557 words before it told me the day was over and i would have to start a new day. this, at 9 a.m. my time. turned out my time zone was set to pacific time in california, so i cheated and pasted my 557 words (which i had written in 10 minutes) into the new day (after all, it had been friday for me all along) and continued. my stats will be a little off, since pasting it in takes a bit less time than it did to write the words in the first place, but oh well. i found it surprising how quickly i got to 750 words. maybe this writing thing isn't so hard after all?  it was just a bunch of drivel, recounting my day yesterday, so there's that, but nonetheless, it was a start.

i'm finding that reading and writing go hand in hand. i knew this, but i think what with obsessively reading the news on my iphone since mid-2016, i'd gotten out of the habit of reading books. i've been fixing that thus far in 2020 and i've already read four books. i'm currently reading hemingway's moveable feast, which contains a lot of advice about writing. i've also joined a book club through the library. we will read just one book - james joyce's ulysses. i took a semester-long course focused on just that book and wrote a 25-page paper on it without finishing the damn thing, so i decided that now is the time. it's one of those you probably should read. but already i can feel myself thinking i have to read a bunch of other stuff first - like i really should refresh homer's odyssey before i begin. and maybe dante's inferno too. and that would lead to goethe's faust, wouldn't it? where will it end?

just get reading already.

Thursday, January 09, 2020

just get writing already

thanks to my old bloggy friend, lynne, of wheatlands, i read a magnificent piece by helen brain on her writing process of her forthcoming post-apocalyptic YA trilogy. it had me thinking all day. thinking about building imagined worlds in clay, or at least drawing them as a map, maybe drawing up a timeline on the wall. you see, lynne, judith (also from the old bloggy days) and i are working on a project together - a project that we hope becomes a novel.  or rather, not that we hope will become a novel - a project that WILL become a novel.

but for that to happen, we need to get writing and i'm weirdly struggling with that. it's strange, because i actually love to write and although i'm out of practice, i feel it's like riding a bike, i will be able to do it again if i just try. but, i'm having trouble sitting down and doing it. and i'm not sure why.

i listened to stephen king's on writing on audible and he basically says that you just have to sit down and do the work, day after day. and look at all that he's produced! and he did it drunk, high and hung over for many years, so surely i can manage when i'm none of those and have plenty of time to devote to it.

so what's stopping me? fear that what i write won't be good enough for my writing partners? fear that the words won't come? distractions - the internet, master chef, netflix, litterboxes to pick, laundry to do, dinners to make. i think, "today i'll be able to settle in after i make a nice coffee for myself. or just after i have some lunch." but somehow, the settling in doesn't happen. i get fidgety in front of the keyboard and the writing doesn't come.

i sometimes wonder if i'm in the midst of a mild depression. i'm not sure i'd be able to discern the difference between it and everyday life. january and february are the darkest, most dreary months in these northern latitudes and that doesn't help me. you'd think a steady rain outside would be just what i need to keep me indoors in front of the computer, but alas, instead it renders me sluggish and uninspired and a bit grey myself and as much as it should, it does not make me sit down and write. (that's not strictly true, as i am sitting down and writing this.)

i love the story we're working on - a story of a brave, amazing young dutch woman who sailed as a man with the dutch east india company, was exposed along the voyage and put ashore in the burgeoning cape colony. there she met abraham, an aging pillar of the new community, who married her and they had a child before it was revealed that she was already married and she was sentenced to bigamy and banished back to europe. and all of this is true! we just have to weave it into a historical novel and bring her story to life.

maybe it's there that the pressure lies - the idea of telling her story and doing it justice is a bit daunting. she must have been so brave and adventurous to set off on that journey, how do we find her voice?  all i know is that i certainly won't find it by sitting here, not writing anything.

and so i turn back to helen brain's good advice to herself..."Maybe all that was needed for my book was the courage to push myself into unknown territory. Maybe I could immerse myself in my subconscious, and let the book filter up from the depths, instead of trying to force it to conform to my conscious process."

or maybe i should just get writing.