In These Days ...

I sit at my typewriter
remembering my grandmother
& all my mothers,
& the minutes they lost
loving houses better than themselves

Erica Jong, extract from Women Enough.

I've been busy ... a project, of course.  A new website specifically for the project, and all kinds of other things too.

At night, I shift my aching body from my ergonomically-disasterous desk and creak to my bed ... tired from sitting rather than anything deliciously active.

But the website is almost done.  I'll launch soon, via a newsletter that shall become regular.  I'm eyeing Instagram too ... I'm in Genova next week, it seems like a good time to work out all this social media stuff that I've mostly ignored, as the new project is all about Genova.

I've been cooking and cleaning, imagining myself quite marvelously productive there too, although wanting more applause than I get for fitting everything into my day.  I've always been dubious about this housewife stuff.  It seems to run along the lines of 'if a tree falls in a forest and noone is there to see it ...'  Same with housework.  A clean house is the result of many lost minutes and hours.  Many.

Erica Jong wrote the perfect poem when she wrote Women Enough

So precisely, yes.

But I must work.  I have one more in the elderberry series to post.  It's been up to 28 celsius, thunderstormy, calm and cool too.  It's Spring.  I'm loving it.

Woman Enough ...

Writers are often asked, How do you write? With a wordprocessor? an electric typewriter? a quill? longhand? But the essential question is, 'Have you found a space, that empty space, which should surround you when you write?' Into that space, which is like a form of listening, of attention, will come the words, the words your characters will speak, ideas -- inspiration.

If a writer cannot find this space, then poems and stories may be stillborn.

Doris Lessing.

This ... this is so true for me.  I recently deleted my facebook account and experienced a most astounding silence.  It took time to adjust to a life without interesting voices crowding in but I did.  And I loved it.  I wrote.  Eventually though, I realised how little people-contact there is in my everyday world and so I went back to facebook.

The alarm goes every morning at 6.45am here.  I have breakfast ready by 7.30am, when I'm home, and I'm usually here at my desk by 8.30am.  And then I read my way into the place that I work from.

It's a mixture of going through email, a scan of my facebook wall for news of the world, catching up on my blog feed and picking through a selection of new reading there.

There's no physical journey, beyond climbing the stairs to the first floor but there is some kind of journey into that place where I work.

So much can go wrong ...

I think it's why painters have studios, photographers too.  Ateliers.  Mine would be locked some days, with no visible signs of life showing.  I have this 4 hour window of time where I can concentrate intensely.  It's the time when the best of my creativity comes out to play.  I know this but I can't always hold onto it.

I'm studying the 'how' of it because I have had 5 disasterous days in a row, with life crashing into me, again and again.  I think, in the process of opening your self to dig deep and create something that didn't exist before, or to write of something you love so that the passion leaps off the page and convinces people ... you need to go to a place where you can take off your skin and just kind of feel your way with your nerve-endings, with your senses perhaps.

An argument can lay waste to that 'place', to that state of being.  Or realising that this person or that really needs you, or that the house is a mess.  That particular 4 hours out is all that I require but it's so difficult to actually take that much time in the world where I live.

Exit Stage right, and Genova.

I have a favourite poem by a writer I've loved for years. I've posted it before so forgive me if you have already ready it.  Otherwise, maybe this captures something of the struggle ...

Woman Enough

Because my grandmother's hours
were apple cakes baking,
& dust motes gathering,
& linens yellowing
& seams and hems
inevitably unraveling
I almost never keep house
though really I like houses
& wish I had a clean one.

Because my mother's minutes
were sucked into the roar
of the vacuum cleaner,
because she waltzed with the washer-dryer
& tore her hair waiting for repairmen
I send out my laundry,
& live in a dusty house,
though really I like clean houses
as well as anyone.

I am woman enough
to love the kneading of bread
as much as the feel
of typewriter keys
under my fingers
springy, springy.
& the smell of clean laundry
& simmering soup
are almost as dear to me
as the smell of paper and ink.

I wish there were not a choice;
I wish I could be two women.
I wish the days could be longer.
But they are short.
So I write while
the dust piles up.

I sit at my typewriter
remembering my grandmother
& all my mothers,
& the minutes they lost
loving houses better than themselves
& the man I love cleans up the kitchen
grumbling only a little
because he knows
that after all these centuries
it is easier for him
than for me.

Erica Jong.

I had to shower, dress, go find a birthday present for a party this afternoon.  I had to get lunch from the supermarket.  After it all, I came back upstairs just after midday and experimented with layers and frames for my photographs ... trying to 'play' my way back into writing. 

Let's see how the rest of it goes.  The shot ... a city street in Genova.

New Directions ...

And now we welcome the new year, full of things that have never been.

Rainer Maria Wilke

It's like that ... this year.  It's full of the promise of things that have never been.  Exciting things.  And if I can just work through this winter thing, this frustration with ice and snow, the isolation of working alone and without colleagues or friends After 5 fabulous weeks back amongst my people, then all would be grand.

It's been a rough week, one where I picked up more responsibility than I like, cleaned the house more often than usual, and struggled to juggle all of the balls/projects I seem to have up in the air.

And I've been on a mission, trying to work out what is possible, which projects are feasible when it come  to time and what might lead to employment ... the usual angst but with a clearer head.

I'm developing an exquisite project with a much-adored and respected friend ... to be unveiled as soon as it's ready to fly.  And I'm interviewing the people in my neighbourhood here.  The Flemish people I enjoy doing business with ... enjoy knowing, and I'm loving their stories. I need to pick up and start running Camera Journeys again ... but need to wait for the new direction to be confirmed, with dates and a place to book.  There's a newsletter to get out soon ... there's stuff to be done and no more time can be spent on my knees, feeling sorry for myself.

It's been like that ... I needed to give myself a bit of a talking to.  And it helped that I was reading Diana Baur's superb book titled 'Your Truth'.  It's been the perfect companion through these challenging days.  At only $5.99us, it's the best kind of read.

And the quote at the beginning ... I found that over on Cynthia Haynes website ... via the truly lovely Leonie Wise.

So, there's a vegetarian lasagne to bake now, and some bread too.  I was going to make a pavlova for dessert but I think that might be raising the bar higher than I want to commit to longterm.  I don't love housework.  I'm more like Erica Jong in her poem Woman Enough

I'll leave you with a favourite subject ... an image that I think best sums up the promise of things to come.  Tot straks.