This will be a short blog post. It’s nearly eleven pm and I’ve been working since eight am and need to be up at seven to get my teaching notes together for tomorrow’s class. But I promised myself I would get a blog post down every Wednesday, so here it is.
This has been a busy week, but I have come to the end of a few projects: The editing for Paper Swans Press is now complete and the emails are going out to the people who submitted for The Chronicles of Eve. It has been a massive task, and at times quite over whelming amongst my other commitments, but it’s also been really good fun and I have had the best time working in an all female team.
I’ve also just handed in a 3000 word essay for the MA. That was a bit of a task. I let myself down a bit by not being as organised as I would have liked. I did a lot of research and had a good idea of what my arguments were, but then drew a bit of a blank when I was writing it. I fear I may have handed in 3000 words of waffle. I’d decided to take a very creative route with it too, because I like a challenge. We’re encouraged to try new ways of addressing ideas on the course, so instead of a straight forward academic essay, I chose to do the essay in three different voices. The idea was that having the voices speak to each other would be a good way of arguing the points and raising questions. I wanted to wrote about the importance of physical movement in Alice Oswald’s Dart and Nancy Gaffield’s Tokaido Road. So I decide to speak through Utegawa Hiroshege, the Japenese artist who created the woodcut prints of The Fifty Three Stations of the Tokaido Road, on which Gaffield’s Tokaido RoadT is based. I also used the voice of the river pixie who drowned Jan Coo in the river Dart. And then there was my own voice too. It’s possible I over stretched myself. I do think that it wasn’t my best essay, but it’s quite difficult to tell when you’re so close to it. But it’s done now, handed in and if i get 60% I’ll be extremely happy.
This week I also read at the launch of York Literature festival, with some amazing talent. It was a brilliant, warm, fun evening with a great crowd of maybe fifty people, all in The Basement right next to the river. In fact it had flooded quite badly the week before, they must have worked very hard to get it ready again. We were a little concerned by the proximity of the river outside the window, it seemed awfully close, and the rain was really coming down. But no flooding occurred and the night was a complete success. There was a great range of readers, I was very honoured to be amongst them. And Carole Bromley and Miles Salter were particularly kind to me. Plus I got to meet Oz Hardwick in the flesh for the first time, after being Facebook friends with him for ages. He bought a copy of Museum Pieces. They’re all such wonderful performers. I would like to be a better performer.
I was having a bit of a low week after a Facebook friend, who many people had been supporting, successfully took her own life after several failed attempts. I was so angry and so sad for her. I was frightened too, and angry that mental health services can’t be more supportive, and angry at myself for not saving her. I don’t think anyone could have, but everyone wishes, just wishes and wishes that they could have said the magic word that would have dragged her out of the dark. She had so much to give and it made me think, again, about my own mental health and how best to look after myself. The rain wasn’t helping my mood either and the cold grey skies and the essay which I kept drawing a blank over and feeling like I wasn’t coping, it was all a bit much. But it passed, I wasn’t low for very long and I feel fine now.
The thing is, I took a lot on with two post graduate degrees and running the business, plus writing and teaching, and it’s been a bit much of late. Everyone advised me against doing both degrees at the same time, and at my worst when I am drowning in work, I would fully agree that it was a stupid thing to do. After I handed the essay in yesterdayI felt like I couldn’t think properly to even deal with simple things. I’d literally exhausted myself. Then I found out I had another class about an hour after handing the essay in, and when I looked at the assessment for that course (I didn’t even know I was supposed to be on the course!) It said I had two more big essays to do for this course. And then I had an email from the PhD telling me the requirements for the taught module that I am undertaking there, and it’s another big essay, 4,500 words. And guess what, they are all due in on the same week, right around the time of Matilda’s birthday when we will also be undertaking our final IVF. I just wanted to cry.
However, in the cold light of day, after a couple of pints last night and a reasonable night’s sleep,I revisited all the course work and planned out how I was going to address it. I shall speak to my supervisor about my fears, I shall make every one aware about the IVF and about Matilda’s birthday and I shall see my therapist more regularly and I shall be fine.I will plan in advance where I am going to fit in essay writing time and have two of them finished a good two weeks before they are due in. I shall be fine. It is hard work, this poetry business, I am trying to write three poems a week, which isn’t easy, and the studying is very challenging at this level. But I can honestly say I love it. I love learning and I love creating. I love moving forward, always. I become unsettled if I am stagnant. In the spaces is where the darker areas are, and I have done my time in the dark. That’s why the essay was so important, because I know the importance of movement in a journey, even if it’s a journey in which all travel is ideas and imagination, and it’s hung off the psychogeometry of a river or a road or a set of paintings depicting a journey.
I will allow my metaphorical kite to fly out of my hand and slip through the frame, into the next frame and on and on until it is a speck, and I am finished with study and movement and can settle peacefully back into my life. Until then, I will be the River Dart with its many voices, and the prospect of change.