Loch Awe in spring - Photo courtesy of Neil Donald Photography






Saturday, 24 March 2012

Too much going on - no time to think

by Mary Smith

Over the last couple of weeks I have found my thoughts turning repeatedly to Gill’s last blog asking if we give ourselves time to think and wishing I could indeed add contemplation time to my ‘to do’ list.

I’ve certainly been doing a lot of thinking but not the kind to which she was referring. It’s been a hectic few weeks – husband in and out of hospital like a yoyo (on the road to recovery now, we think), trying to get some articles written up ahead of deadline, interviewing people – and being interviewed – and getting 21-year-old off to Nepal. The airline went bust a few days before he was due to go but the travel agent didn’t think to tell us. When we made enquiries we were told it hadn’t completely gone bust and he could still get the flight to Delhi, where he would be stranded. Managed to book him on another – much more expensive – flight and have checked he boarded the bus to London with passport, ticket, dollars, bank card, photos for visa which he has to apply for on arrival as he didn’t have time to apply before leaving because he had put his passport in the washing machine and didn’t put in for a replacement….He’s a student.

So, there has certainly been no ‘me’ time, or contemplation time. On the other hand, part of me knows I’m storing away all sorts of potentially useful material for future writing projects – conversations from hospital trolleys or how to survive motherhood, perhaps. 

Sara Bain, arts and entertainment editor for the Dumfries & Galloway Standard, has begun a series of interviews with writers. I was delighted when she asked if I’d be willing to be interviewed and she certainly made me think hard to answer her questions. 

Heard from my publisher, Indigo Dreams, my non-fiction book on Afghanistan will be coming out in July and my poetry collection, Thousands Pass Here every Day, will be published in August. So now, I have to start planning book launches and publicity and marketing – more thinking but not in a contemplative way.

I have been accepted as part of a group of artists and craft makers going on a ‘learning journey’ in April to Slovakia to visit its biosphere reserve and dark sky park. It is part of the Gallowayand Southern Ayrshire Biosphere Reserve Project and we are expected to create a record of our journey when we return. Having seen the height of the mountains we’ll be climbing – not called the High Tatras for nothing – I think I need to launch a fitness and stamina programme before I go.

Maybe stomping up and down Dumfries & Galloway’s hills over the next few weeks will give me time to think? And, after Slovakia, surely there will be time to write?

22 comments:

  1. And when you do get time to think, what a lot of things you'll have to reflect on! Makes me feel exhausted just reading about it. I wonder if it's possible to get that balance right, between life and contemplation? Maybe the struggle is part of the fun.

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    1. I don't know if it is possible to ever get the balance right, Gill, but I'll keep trying and I'll try telling myself the struggle is part of the fun. I suppose if we didn't struggle sometimes we woudln't experience the sheer delight of when we do suddenly have the time to stop and think.

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  2. You have been very busy! And now all your hard work coming to fruition with publications - congratulations. Maybe sit back with a well-earned cup fo tea/glass of wine/whatever and bask in the glow of your success.....and have a little think about future projects....:)

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    1. Thanks, Linda. I am very excited about the publications this year - will let everyone know about launches, etc in due course. I have a long list of future projects I'd like to work on but I think I'd have to live until I'm about 150 to achieve half of them, not to mention the many, many books still to be read.

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  3. Don't know where yesterday's comment went. You will have no time for contemplation with a trip to Slovakia and then telling everyone all about it, plus two books coming out. It will be exhausting but so very satisfying and that will make it all worth while.

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    1. Yes, Gwen, you are right, it is very satisfying (and very exciting) to have two books coming out and every so often I do remind myself of that and it makes all the exhausting things worthwhile.

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    2. Reminds me of something my dear old Dad used to say - 'If you want something done, ask a busy person.'!

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  4. All I can do is add my admiration to the comments above. I know that 'contemplation' is usually something that involves being still and quiet but I think exposing yourself to different environments and keeping a constant curiosity about them is a similar sort of experience.

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  5. Perhaps you are right, Bill, but I still hope there will come a little gap in which I can enjoy the luxury of some quiet time to reflect on all the experiences. At the moment it feels life is going by in a bit of a blur!

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  6. Phew! I'm exhausted just reading this, don't know where you get your stamina.

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    1. Well, Chris, look at what Maggie is dealing with (below) and you'll see my life is quite easy. Anyway, DH is improving, son landed safey in Nepal and the sun is shining. I'm going to spend a bit of time knocking the garden into shape - or at least making it less jungle looking. Myabe I'll compose a poem or a new chapter while I'm digging.

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  7. Know what you mean, Mary. I had the first four months of this year all planned out. Finish book, then skip off to Prague for some rest and contemplation. Now I'm suddenly moving house - came right out of the blue - the kids who were supremely confident in their ability to pass their Highers in six weeks time have now gone into complete meltdown, the new beds I ordered cannot now be delivered until a week after we move in, the mattress company boss has done a runner, taking my money and presumably my mattresses with him, BT say the phone line in the new house is not activated, and it will take 3 weeks to do so but I need an internet connection NOW, the removal company sound worryingly vague about where I live, and the car failed to pass its MOT. Finished book? What finished book????

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    1. My goodness, Maggie, you make my life sound a perfect oasis of calm compared to yours. I'm so glad I am not alone in living in chaos. I hope everything gets sorted out - and get your mattress back from the man who has done a runner. I think we have to believe these things come in cycles and we'll have our time of calm in which to get our writing done and other people will have their turn and at coping with chaos.

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  8. Wow, Mary - what a year you're having! Sounds as if the time away might be just what you need once you've climbed that mountain. But everything will bring yet more exciting possibilities to add to the two publications. Take time to enjoy it all!

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    1. Thanks, Rosemary. I will find time somehow!

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  9. Mary, what a wonderful opportunity you've been given. I'm sure you'll get a huge amount out of it - and will give it back to us all in a different way.

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    1. Thank you, Jenny. I am hoping the trip will result in some new poems.

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  10. When you come back from Slovakia,you and I both will take time out for ourselves ... but that's only after I've grilled you thoroughly about your trip!

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  11. I like the idea of time for ourselves but surely not another grilling? It's only five minutes since the last one!

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  12. Mary, I think I'll have to go and lie down after reading your blog post! How you fit it all in to a 24 hour day, I'll never know. Still, exciting times ahead, with lots of ideas for new writing.

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  13. Thanks, Joan. Yes, lots of ideas for new writing - if I can find the time. I'm definitely going sort out some kind of balance in my writing life/work life.

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