Quintessential summer song: Kokomo by The Beach Boys. Never mind that it’s associated with the rather silly film ‘Cocktail’ (and that some of us don’t like Tom Cruise anymore)… when my boys sing it to me: ‘Come on, pretty Mama…’, believe me: it doesn’t get much better than that!
Not that I am ungrateful for the time I get to spend with my children…
But perhaps I simply try to cram too much into the holidays…
Perhaps I overestimate their and my capacity for wonder, social interaction and quality time…
Perhaps I underestimate the amount of time it takes me to write even something as simple as a blog post, a book review or a letter for French administration, let alone a novel. OK, maybe the French letter is marginally more complex than a novel.
Perhaps there are other things weighing my spirit down and it’s really not fair to take it out on them.
Anyway, I’ve tried to pre-empt this by gearing my reading and writing matter this month towards the light, easy and colourful. Among my reads: Cara Black, Sarah Caudwell and Ben Hatch’s hilarious road-trip across France.
And I try to tell myself that somewhere, somehow, amidst the repeated requests to do homework, to tidy up, to come down for dinner, there might be some golden childhood memories building up…
The weather forecast from tomorrow onwards is “l’automne s’annonce”. Rain, low temperatures and perhaps even snow on the mountain tops. So here is my last hurrah to the far too brief summer we have had this year.
I’m struggling a little to find my words right now. 6 months of corporate speak, constant travelling and consummate professionalism have taken their toll. Writing and I have never been further apart – or so it seems.
But the good news is that the holidays have started now. I’m taking all of July and August off. July will be dedicated to the family, but August is mine, to read, review, blog, read your blogs and … finally nail that novel. If only the words start flowing again.
Here are some quotes from women poets and writers which currently guide and inspire me:
The joy of writing.
The power of preserving.
Revenge of a mortal hand. (Wisława Szymborska)
I’m not mad. It just seems that way
because I stagger and get a bit irritable.
There are wonderful holes in my brain
through which ideas from outside can travel
at top speed and through which voices,
sometimes whole people, speak to me
about the universe. (Jo Shapcott)
For it would seem … that we write, not with the fingers, but with the whole person. (Virginia Woolf)
Responsibility to yourself means refusing to let others do your thinking, talking, and naming for you; it means learning to respect and use your own brains and instincts; hence, grappling with hard work. (Adrienne Rich)
Thank you all for bearing with me while I have been away. I loved reading all of your comments last night, when I returned from holiday, apologies for not replying to each one of you personally. I was touched that my blog has not been completely forgotten or abandoned while I have been missing in action. Slowly, gradually, I will catch up with all of you and what you have written in the meantime.
In other news though… There is a Romanian saying: ‘What you calculate at home does not match what you calculate at the marketplace’. In other words, no matter how much you attempt to plan things just so, life and external circumstances have a habit of upsetting your apple-cart. And my particular apple-cart was to have a revised version of my novel finished by the end of this month.
Did I have the distraction of Internet and social media? No. Did I spend lots of time at the beach or clubbing or meeting friends, in other words on social distraction? No. Did I have the children constantly under my feet demanding my attention? No. Did I have to worry about cooking and housekeeping? No.
With all of the above excuses consigned to the rubbish bin, did I work hard on editing my novel? Errr… no!
Tick tock, a life is passing…
A dozen wasted days of summer,
a dozen prisons of the mind.
Not much, you say, middle-class suffering
But over the years – 300 days when I could have birthed meaning,
… for pesky adverbs, overemphatic descriptions and stilted dialogues, that is. I am going away on holiday and will not have access to email, Twitter, Facebook or WordPress. In short, none of the comforts and distractions of present-day life. So I can dedicate myself whole-heartedly to the children, the beach and editing my first draft.
Or so I thought. Then, slowly, slowly, other (professional) obligations started creeping up on me, including a few things that I had promised to do before the holidays but never got around to doing. And some enjoyable tasks, such as reading my friend Cristian Mihai’s first novel Jazz, and then preparing to grill him in an interview.
So now it looks like I’ll be lucky to get any rest over the next few weeks…
However, you will get a rest. From me. And my very prolific (and no, I do not mean proficient) blogging.
Should you be suffering from withdrawal symptoms, however, here are a few that I made earlier: