Wednesday, 2 July 2014


Today I: wrote 1466 words, walked the dog, rode the horse, had breakfast with my mother, completely forgot lunch, read about the anarchists of the late 19th century, and missed almost all the news.

I am out of the habit of the blog, and can’t remember how to write it. One of the points of a daily blog is that it works well as a wrist-loosening exercise, like doing arpeggios. Practise is vital for writing, no matter how long you have been doing it. Writing needs to live near the surface of muscle memory. If you take time off, even briefly, you grow creaky and tentative. The words no longer flow, as if someone has turned off the tap. The prose falls flat on the page, with no life or spirit in it. One may have a decent thought, but the fingers can no longer make the thought sing. Everything is low and blah.

I rode whilst I was away, on smart, tuned, professional horses, so I had to use all my muscles. Getting back on the red mare, I had no moment of adjustment. All the memory hummed in my body, so that each part knew exactly where to arrange itself without my having to think about it. There was only a vivid sense of coming home. After two weeks of real life and hardly any typing, my poor fingers can barely remember how to arrange themselves over the keyboard. The easy line between mind and hand is stretched and stuttering.

I thought about habits today, for another reason. I think that almost every habit of mind has to be practised, just as prose must be. Generosity of spirit, optimism, kindness, stoicism, determination – all the things I admire – do not just spring from some random character but have to be developed and remembered and renewed. This is my theory. I think the neuronal pathways have a sort of muscle memory of their own. I find this vastly soothing, because it means that with a little application, one may improve almost everything. I admit this is a little hello clouds, hello sky, but it pleases the sanguine part of me which likes to see the light in things.

I am so out of practise that I have no good ending to this. I can’t remember how to give you a nice concluding paragraph. I’ll be match-fit again in a couple of days. The lucky thing is that this small place is where imperfection lives. It is the amateur side of my writing, done entirely for love, not money. It allows for tangents and inconclusive thoughts and human flaws and intellectual frailty. It is not polished or shiny or trying to prove a point. I have no tap shoes here, no jazz hands. That sometimes feels rather terrifying, but it is liberating too. There is the sweet, unspoken contract, in between the lines of which runs the gentle knowledge that the Dear Readers will understand.


Here are some entirely random pictures for you:

2 July 1

2 July 2

2 July 3

2 July 4

2 July 7

2 July 9

2 July 12

2 July 15

2 July 18

2 July 19

2 July 19-001


  1. I don't know what I'd do without your missives from the Highlands. You're so good at this that we never know when you're floundering. xo

  2. Oh Tania, I'm so glad you are back! With a "keep off the grass" picture: I think that stays with one for life! And beautiful Scotland and Red, and handsome Stan the Man.

  3. So lovely to have your words back. And your random photos are just gorgeous.xx

  4. One of the great yogis of our time had one reply to all his students' queries which was "Practise, practise and all is coming." I remember it day after day for every aspect of life. (But no-one could tell, reading your blog, that you had been on a break. Your prose is smooth as a river, as always.) Rachel


Your comments give me great delight, so please do leave one.


Blog Widget by LinkWithin