Yep, I’m off on my happy holidays today. I’m going to Wales to visit family, and I’m super excited. I get to see folks I ain’t seen in yonks, and I’m going to have a nice, relaxing week. We’ve got tickets to go to a comedy club, we’ll be going for a tasty carvery, we’ll be having a few beers too no doubt. Perhaps we’ll go to St. Fagans with my nieces and my nephew, and my brother and sister-in-law, or Warren Mill Farm. I’m going to stay up as late as I want, and sleep in until noon if it takes my fancy.
Self-promotion sucks. I find it really hard, at least in the context of my writing. I’m not a natural bragger and I don’t want to boast about my work. I don’t want to intrude on people’s days or twist conversations unnaturally so that I can talk about my books in the hopes of getting a sale or two. I hate it when authors do that to me, so why would I want to do that to anyone else? It’s not for me. I’m not interested. Since I’m not really in this writing lark to make money, I quite simply decided not to bother with the self-promotion. I’ll talk about my book if it comes up in conversation naturally, I’ll continue writing my blog (albeit very sporadically…oops) because I find it fun, I’ll take pleasure in any sales or reviews as they come but I’m not going to push it and I’m not going to be disheartened if they don’t come. Ever since I came to that decision, I’ve enjoyed writing a whole lot more.
I’m a natural stress-head. Not about everything but about little things. When it comes to big things, I’m surprisingly calm. I can handle it. But for little things, stupid things mostly, I’m a stress-head. I stress about time a lot. How am I going to find the time to get everything done? What if I die soon? I’ve taken on too much work…again! I stress about doing things well. You could have done that better, Riley. You’re not very good, are you Riley? I stress about stressing even. Chill out! What’s the matter with you? I snap at my poor, unsuspecting husband when I’m stressing too. I can’t help it. It’s like little worms burrowing into my brain and making me behave irrationally – irrational because stressing rarely helps.
Do you know what I’ve realised? Time is a big thing for me. It’s an issue, and not just in the I-don’t-have-enough-of-it sense (although without a doubt, I don’t have enough of it). Time, where it comes from and where it goes, how we waste it and how to make the most of it, efficiency, procrastination, life, death, and immortality. They’re things I think about a lot – and I know I’ve done a fair few blog posts on the topic too – but time genuinely does affect our everyday lives in ways that sometimes we don’t even realise.
I recently read a blog post by fellow author Tanya Jones. It was all about immortality and whether it’s a good thing. It got me thinking. In fact, I read it over a week ago and since then, the concept of immortality has been swirling around and around in my over-stuffed brain, trying to wedge it’s way between thoughts of what we’re having for tea, the ever-increasing to-do list for the bar, and the importance of putting commas in the correct places. After all, immortality is a big deal, right?
Stories are hard, I think. I can think of scenes – scene after scene after scene – but stories? Stories are hard. I’m not really sure why I find stories hard – and I mean proper, structured stories with a beginning, middle, and end – but I do. I start writing and I’ll be honest, half the time, I don’t even know where it’s going and then I get stuck and I’ve got a scene with no real purpose. Is that just me or does that happen to anyone else?
I’ve been thinking about death a lot lately. Not in a philosophical sense – where do we go afterwards, do we have a soul? Not in a physiological sense either – the heart stopping, the brain dying, the blood not pumping around. No, I’ve been thinking about death in a more normal sense, in an every-day human sense.
Death’s a funny thing, isn’t it? Funny weird, not funny haha. Nobody knows where you’ve gone or why or what’s happened to you. You’re just there one minute and then…then you’re not. You’re just an empty shell, a nothingness that bears no resemblance to you, the real you. You’re lost in the realm of things that can’t be explained, whilst those you’ve left behind are wandering, wondering, shell-shocked and surprised even though really, it shouldn’t have been that much of a surprise. It happens to everyone eventually, and you were old and sick, it was on the cards.
You know what’s funny? Time. Time’s funny. Take, for example, the bacon sandwich I ate this morning. That hot, greasy deliciousness that was smothered in tomato ketchup and smelled like heaven? That feels like it happened years ago when in reality, it’s only been a mere 12 hours ago (okay, so maybe not ‘mere’ – 12 hours is a long time to go without bacon). It works the other way too. Take my last blog post, for example. I put that out just last week, right? WRONG! It’s been two months! Two months? What happened there? I was tricked by the accordion of time, that’s what happened.
It’s June! Did you know that already? Because I don’t think the little hobbit in the sky who controls the weather knows that. He’s rather confusedly pressing all the October buttons instead of twizzling the June knobs. It’s cold where I am, and rainy, just like October! It’s so rainy that there are floods all over France and it’s so cold that I’ve gone back to wearing two pairs of socks (at the same time, you understand). The weather-hobbit must be drunk.
I know I’ve talked about my connection with technology before, but it really became apparent again this week (or should I say, this fortnight), when my laptop had to visit the little computer hospital. That’s right, the little ambulance came and everything (at least, it did in my slightly deranged and wonky mind – in reality, I just carried my poor baby down the street to the shop). The computer doctor was very nice. He worked very hard (if, admittedly, a little slowly) and he’s done a truly marvellous job. Stitched her up like new, he did. Cleaned her inside and out. He’s my favourite doctor now. The fortnight that has just gone by though…boy was that tough!
Friday feels…Friday feels…I’m not really sure how Friday feels. Friday feels sleepy, that’s for sure (that’ll teach me for staying up until 2am reading). Friday feels a bit poorly too (I’ve discovered that you can catch a cold in France too, much to my dismay). Friday feels excited and happy (things are moving forward with my new life, finally). Friday feels a bit like a roller-
coaster to be honest.
I love stationery. There, I said it. I love it. I love pens and paper and notebooks and pencil cases. I could (I do) spend hours browsing stationery aisles in the supermarket, scrolling through stationery adverts on sales websites, looking through the stationery stalls at the market. Sad, isn’t it?
I’m enjoying life at the moment. I’m still in limbo of course (and, much to our frustration, it seems our limbo-ness is going to continue for a few more weeks), but I’ve been getting out and about, discovering things and meeting people. I’ve even had a go at what will eventually be my new job.
Disclaimer: I haven’t actually stepped back in time, so please don’t ask me how (although if you’ve discovered the secret of time travel, let me know. Sounds like fun, does that).
Last week, I talked about how I’m in limbo because my new life hasn’t properly started yet. So life is rather plodding along pleasantly at the moment – not quite at a snail’s pace but I’m no greyhound either (hmmm…I’m not sure I was ever at greyhound speeds). Think of me as a little faster than the tortoise but I still can’t see the hare (I know, I know, the tortoise taught us that slow and steady wins the race but I think the real moral of the story there is ‘don’t have a nap on the job’). But it’s not just my present limbo-status that is making me go slower. It’s the culture.
Friday feels…a little lost, if I’m honest. I’m kind of in limbo at the moment (no, not the Limbo that sits between Overworld and Underworld*, nor the video game, nor the ‘how low can you go’ game, but that metaphorical state of ‘limbo’ that we all know and sometimes love).
I left my old (and rather hectic) life behind me just before Christmas, and yet my new life is yet to properly begin. My new home, my new job, everything is on hold and this morning, it seems it’s been pushed back another week or so. Frustrating, undoubtedly, but it’s not all bad (at least not for me; I think my parents would be pleased to get us messy people out of their house and my husband would definitely like his own space again, although I know he appreciates their hospitality. I have the benefit of having lived with them all at one point or another, so I’m used to all their crazy ways).
It’s New Year’s Day. Typically, it’s a day of hangovers of course, but it’s also day of reflection and a day of cheesy (and often unachievable) resolutions. So that’s what I’m going to do today – reflect and resolve – because who am I to fly in the face of tradition?
Have you ever seen the film Limitless? You know those pills he takes to unleash the full potential of his brain? Well, I don’t take drugs but I’m not going to lie – I’d find it really hard to turn down some NZT. (As an aside, there are medications on the market that purport to provide a similar service but they’re not quite there yet: read this for more information).
So a few weeks ago (20th September to be exact), I announced that it was time to make some changes in my life. Whilst everything is good (great job, nice flat, wonderful people around me), I wasn’t moving forward with my ‘ultimate life goals’ (as cheesy as that may sound). In that post, I said that making the decision was step one, and that I hadn’t worked out what step two was yet but – and here’s my confession – that wasn’t quite true.