Note: I tried to post this on Sunday evening but blogger wanted to have a fight instead.....The fact that I'm able to post it now, three days too late, is a testament, if not to my technical savvy, to my stubbornness....So there Blogger! MB
Ireland scenic, a photo by Larry Gaskill on Flickr.
"It is necessary to write, if the days are not to slip emptily by. How else, indeed, to clap the net over the butterfly of the moment?"
This quote, from Vita Sackville-West, someone long dead, popped up somewhere during the week and caught my eye. Necessary indeed, but what if nothing but rubbish flows from my pen....? What if no butterflies inhabit my moments? Keep writing, the sages say! At this moment there are several half-baked blatherations stacked in a teetering pile in my drafts, and not a one of them worth a tinker's curse. As a schoolgirl I always had secret notebooks in which I'd start stories. There were lots of starts, but not too many finishes. I came to the sad conclusion that I would have to put my stories on hold 'til I'd lived a little longer and had some kind of idea how life actually happens when one is released from the clutches of the nuns, with all their "thou shalts" and "thou shalt nots." Not realizing at the time that, long after the nuns were no longer a physical presence, the "thou shalts" and "thou shalt nots" would be indelibly imprinted on my brain.
Besides, stories written by other people were so tidy! There was a beginning, a middle and an end. The plot was developed early, it thickened 'round the mid-point, and all conflicts were satisfactorily resolved before, or on, the last page. Was it me, I wondered? My life didn't seem very tidy. All kinds of threads seemed to hang in mid-air, indefinitely, unresolved. How to stitch them all into the seams so I'd have a clear beginning, middle and end? Because of course, when you're fifteen, it's all autobiographical . It's all about you, thinly disguised as "fiction!" And now, even though so many years have gone by, and I have experienced beginnings and middles, I'm still waiting to find out "What happens next?"
Reading another book by Maggie O'Farrell, "After You'd Gone, " I noticed no frayed edges there! She takes her loose, seemingly disconnected threads and magically weaves them into a complicated, but coherent tale with a beginning, a middle and an end, though her beginning is likely to be in the middle, her middle at the beginning, and her end, at least, at the end, where it belongs! And as she flits between the three, building suspense, layer by layer, and every bone in your body is screaming for "Sleep!" you have to keep those pages turning 'til you reach the last one because how could you sleep without knowing "What happens?"
She left me mesmerized, again, wondering what kind of living she had to do to come up with such ingenious plot twists and turns......Or could it be that she was born knowing? Or was she "here before," as they say in Ireland of children suspected of having been brought by the fairies? That and heaping helpings of talent and imagination.....Whatever it is, may I have some please? Meanwhile, I'm half way through "The Hand That First Held Mine."
There was skinny dipping here today! Two live-wire, incredibly tall [since I saw them last] "Spinny Kickles"* blew in on the early morning breeze, looking for pancakes. They were en route to The Beach for Spring Break, and since they're not yet old enough to drive [9 and 7] they brought mom and dad along. Having driven through the night, mom and dad were a little frayed around the edges....Which is why we keep pillows and beds around. The reason we keep sofas around is so that canny cats can retreat thereunder at the first boy-sterous shout, the sight of swiftly flashing boyish limbs and ---hurry! dash!---the loud and extremely wet splash of water!
I was restless when they left and thought they should live closer to me, or I to them, as my grandmother did, twenty five miles out the road.....I wonder if Karma is catching up with me? Because of choices I made, my own mother rarely saw her grandchildren..........and then she died. Which, I'm beginning to realize, could be in the cards for me! "And miles to go before I sleep!"
How to drive out those twin snakes---Sad and Lonely? And it St. Patrick's Day, for pity's sake! I hauled out a big coffee table book of photos of Ireland. That didn't exactly help, though it was soothing, looking at all those photos of familiar places. And to read snatches of familiar poetry-----
Scenic Ireland, a photo by iwinatcookie on Flickr.
"I will arise and go now, and go to Innisfree,
And a small cabin build there, of clay and wattles made;
Nine bean rows will I have there, a hive for the honey bee.
And live alone in the bee-loud glade." By W. B. Yeats
And some not so familiar---
"We are the music makers,
And we are dreamers of dreams,
Wandering by lone sea-breakers,
And sitting by desolate streams..." by Arthur O'Shaughnessy
Obviously this was not improving my mood. I was becoming more maudlin by the minute. What I needed was some music; some jigs and reels to keep my toes tapping while I..........baked something! That's what I'd do! Soda bread maybe? It being St Paddy's Day and all? But I wasn't in the mood for soda bread. Maybe later in the week. For now I decided on chocolate chip cookies, because how can you be sad when there are home made chocolate chip cookies in the house?
I even added oatmeal as a virtuous nod to nutrition. And since we'd had a barbecue before the beach goers departed, I didn't see anything wrong with having chocolate chip cookies for dinner---one as an appetizer, two for the main course, one in place of salad and one for dessert. With a tall glass of milk, because, if you never drink milk on any other occasion, you must drink milk with chocolate chip cookies. Otherwise they don't go down right! I may have to have one more as a snack before bed, along with another serving of Irish music, played loudly...............
And when I wake up tomorrow it'll no longer be St. Patrick's Day, and, God willing, I won't have a bellyache, and I can shake off this homesick melancholy and figure out "what happens next."