Tuesday, 5 January 2010

Coming to terms with human frailty

Posted by Tania Kindersley.

Oh, it was all going to be so perfect.  On Monday morning, I was going to be like a finely tuned racehorse breaking out of the gate. It was a new year, a new start, and, the most creakingly hoary of clichés, a new me.  I was going to start writing the new book, and entirely reinvent the blog. It would be all shining and excellent and novel.  It would blind you with its brilliance. I pictured myself as one of those great prima ballerinas of old, the proper divas, bending gracefully to pick up bouquets as they were thrown to the stage by a roaring crowd.

Instead of which, I got hit by the Fear.  It came roaring down the track like an out of control truck, ran me over, and disappeared ruthlessly over the horizon.  For two days my fingers have been paralysed.  I could not, as my most charming friend Stephen likes to say, write fuck on a dusty blind.  I pretended to do 'research', while all the time feeling as if I were crouching under the desk waiting for the terror to pass.

Sarah called this morning. 'I think I have the Fear,' I said.

'Yes, yes,' she said.  There was a pause. 'Fear of what?'

'Well,' I said, talking quickly so as to cover over my utter idiocy. 'That we shall write a very bad book.'

'Yes,' she said, sounding distracted. 'That's not really very likely is it?'

'Isn't it?' I said.

'We are both professional writers,' she said, calmly. 'We have done this before. We have a good idea. Unless we are both struck by accidental lobotomy at the exact same time, I think we shall be all right.'

'I see,' I said.  'You are saying that statistics are on our side?'

'Yes,' she said.

'Oh well,' I said.  'That's all right then.'

Sarah has occasional fleeting visits to the irrational.  Her default mode is, however, bracingly practical.  I have never done practical in my life.  I get all twisted up inside because in my secret heart I think if I try hard enough, and think hard enough, and work hard enough, I might just, one day, write something that comes close to Mrs Dalloway.  Sarah does not care a whit about Mrs Woolf.  She is an absolute pro. I am, from now on, going to attempt to emulate her.  THAT is my new year's resolution.

PS I read somewhere once that someone did a lovely project where they just took a photograph a day for a whole year, so that they had a visual record of their daily life. The pictures were not an aesthetic festival, just plain snapshots of an ordinary life.  I love that idea.  One of the things I do want to try and do this year is have a picture a day. It might get dull or repetitive, I may get bored and give up on the whole thing.  But, for what it is worth, here is what I saw today -

Snow on the trees:

snow 135

The sheep, just visible through the starting blizzard:

snow 156

One of the dogs, running down the beech avenue:

snow 116

snow 122

And the other one, hock deep in snow:

snow 141

That snow, by the way, is not a drift.  There has been no wind for two weeks.  That is just how deep it is. For your reference, here is my flower pot, now entirely submerged, with its ever-growing cap:

snow 158


  1. The Fear! I know it - I am right there plum smack in the middle of it right now. I said on Monday morning to myself and the world in general 'I have a New Year sense of purpose running through me like a steel core; I shall write off with my CV and letters to lots of places that will clamour for me as a writer.' It is now Tuesday night and I have sent one and recalled it because try as I might, I am struck by the paralysing thought I might not be good enough. My pitches are flat and distinctly uninspired - what on earth was I thinking that I could go freelance...? But my spare room - waiting to be de-junked for months now - is a picture. I wish I had a Sarah...

  2. Love your friend Stephen's catchphrase, it's brilliant, I might have to steal it!

  3. The thing that has kept me organizing the cabinet under my bathroom sink has a name! The Fear and I are quite close these days. I had such bravado over the holidays surrounded by family and friends, but now with just my computer and dogs I am overcome with an attack of "not good enough". Your post was enough to draw me out from lurking though - much better now! Thanks!

  4. Shall look forward to your world in a year of photos. That beech avenue looks divine. Have you seen Dame Elisabeth Murdoch's driveway of gums at Cruden Farm?

  5. I need someone to kickstart me out of my fear, the cold from hell is not helping. Your photos are truly beautiful, they make me feel really homesick for the UK.

  6. if it's any consulation quite a lot of friends have been having troubles with this since Christmas- and I did between Christmas and NY. There's almost too much pressure to appear like a butterfly anew from the feasting and resting.

    All the people who worry about these things are in my experience people who do very well in fact. I love your book and your blog and think Sarah is right and the next will be just as good.

  7. You are all so lovely; you have given me the great gift of feeling that I am not the only one. Also, the very fact that you take the time to leave comments is a tremendous tonic; I take it as a huge compliment. This morning I actually managed to start work proper, despite my malaise, and I am sure I owe you all a debt of gratitude for that. Nothing like the generosity of blog readers to give a girl a shot in the arm. So, thank you.

  8. My mother uses the phrase 'How do you eat an elephant? One bite at a time.'

    Love the ba-doing jumping doggy photo.


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