My Word of the Week is a bit random, what you might call coming in from left of field. It is a word I stumbled upon when I was looking up something quite different in the dictionary and it really appealed to me.
On the surface, it seems that the two ways to use this word are incompatible. The concept of being snug and quiet engenders nice feelings, whilst saving in a miserly way pictures up a whiney Uriah Heep wringing his hands. However, if we save in a miserly way it is likely to lead to us being able to afford to be snug and quiet, so I think they do work well together after all.
I am all for a snug and quiet life. I will never be the soul of the party; in fact, my perfect party would be me and a cake. I am afraid I’ve never been good at saving in a miserly way, but I am learning through necessity, and I hope it will be a lesson I’ll carry forward out of choice, although I will try to keep the hand-wringing at a minimum.
I hope my readers have greeted the new week with some resolve of their own and now I think I need to make some lunch, which is quite the high point of the day.
This is my word of the week; it’s plain and simple; it doesn’t have multiple applications; there is no need for interpretation; it just means what it means; you don’t have to write for ages to describe how and where to use it.
There is one simple reason to explain why I came up with this as my word of the week: I have finally introduced a new character into the first draft of my novel and now my main protagonist has someone to talk to. The first few chapters have been very short on dialogue (I’ll have to have to fix that later) and that has suited me because generally I enjoy writing great swathes of description about inner thoughts and feelings, postponing action and dialogue for as long as possible. However, I experienced a palpable sense of relief last night when I could finally write a whole bit where two people were talking to one another.
They talked about sausages, probably because I was coming down with a cold and when I have a cold I just want to eat and eat and eat. Clearly food is on my mind even when I am supposedly hard at work practising my craft. In fact, now I come to think of it, there are a lot of biscuits so far in this novel. Hmmm, don’t write and diet?
I hope you have a loquacious week and remember: if no-one is listening to you it is the universe’s way of telling you that you are not talking quite enough!
If all goes to plan, my posts this week will tend to hang together with a theme of imagination, so “imagine” is the very best word to start off with.
I am a big fan of imagination; I think it’s very important to us as human beings. However, as we can see from the dictionary definition, it has a darker side, leading off into the realm of fancy, supposition and, ultimately, delusion. It is important, then, that we each make sure we are aware of the ways in which imagination and reality co-exist, how each state can enrich the other, and where we are comfortable to sit on the boundary between living completely in the real world and living completely in a fantasy land.
Disillusion can also be a by-product of imagination and that is a state which can be abundant in our modern life, where we are always striving for the perfect photo to illustrate our perfect description of the perfect something we have just bought, produced, or experienced. I’m relatively happy with the snapshot that accompanies this post, but the one in my imagination is a hundred times better!
I hope you have a lovely week and get something imaginative into it. If you pop by again during the week you will be able to read how imagination plays a big role whilst I’m knitting, and also my ambling thoughts about imagination and various popular planning methodologies.
This Bank Holiday Monday morning I have been devoting attention to my typewriter. I’ve used it a bit since I bought it at the end of December 2018 but when I watched a short clip on Instagram of TypewriterTraveler using one of his many typewriters, I knew I could be doing better with it. So today I had another attempt at cleaning aggregated ink and dust from some of the letters which I had identified as being less than ideal. My aim was to improve the crispness of the letters and I am happy with the results. I also checked how the paper was feeding through because I get some eccentricities in the spacing of the lines on a page as I type, but I think this is down to my technique rather than any specific issue with the platen or paper rollers failing to grip.
This work fits in with my Word of the Week through the definitions “to devote attention to” and “to refine”. I like the idea of cultivating relationships with things and with people. I suppose now we would call the people part of it “networking”, which has a scientific ring to it, where cultivating comes across as rather organic, although it is nothing of the sort.
Is there anything you need to cultivate this week? I expect, given the time of year, that many people are cultivating in a very traditional sense by attending to their gardens. As a flat-dweller, I don’t have a garden so instead I watch my knitting grow and bloom, I cultivate friendships online and in what passes hereabouts for reality, and I civilise and refine myself which I would say is an exercise we all follow from cradle to grave.
Right now, though, I feel I need to seek actively to gain or foster a relationship with my settee. I will leave you with a shot of my desk as I typed the definition for this entry.
A record of the events, or one’s thoughts, during the night.
(From the Latin “nox, noctis” meaning night; on the analogy of “diary”)
Here’s a word for anyone to use if they wake in the night and have to write down something that has just struck them. For anyone who writes down their dreams. For those of you who keep a notebook on the bedside table.
Me? When I’m in bed, I’m in bed; my dreams can come and go as they please, if they are important I will remember them; if I forget them, clearly they were not important. Almost any night, the only thing that will get me out of bed once I’m settled is a trip to the loo.
Except, that is, on Saturday night when I thought something just after I got into bed and had to put the light on, pad out into my living room, sit at my desk and write down the single sentence that a fictional character had uttered in my head, then pad back and settle down. It momentarily crossed my mind that I should have writing equipment by my bed for just such a chance; I didn’t know that I needed a noctuary.
Do you have a noctuary? Did you know that was what it was called?
Here in Norfolk, as in a lot of the United Kingdom, last week was chilly and wet and decidedly un-spring-like. In tandem with the blossom on the trees, and the seedlings in the ground, we humans had to practice perseverance to get us through to the brighter weather and slightly higher temperatures that we are now enjoying.
Life is like that, too. Sometimes it is dreary and grey and there is an unpleasant chill in our hearts. We are not sure where we want to be, or what we want to be doing; perhaps we are not even sure who we are. The central character in my nascent novel (nascent may have to be a Word of the Week one of these old days) is in just that state and it is my job to get her from there to a more pleasant position by the end of the book. Or not. Perhaps she is doomed never to find her place; perhaps some people never do. However, whether we find our place or not, we must persevere because where there is life, there is hope.
I like to see perseverance as more positive than doggedness or grim determination. Perseverance is getting the bit between your teeth, it has an edge of self-motivation in it. I like perseverance, and yet I am absolutely rubbish at it. Are you good at perseverance?
There are a lot of things in the world that we can achieve if we put in the required amount and appropriate type of effort. Many of us can very probably accumulate money, live in relative luxury, find love, raise children to become valuable members of society, achieve power, pursue our dreams, travel, what have you.
Yet if we are to live happily, we must come to terms with the fact that we cannot achieve everything that we set our minds to, we cannot reach every goal that we set. Some things are beyond our abilities, some things are no more than fantasies and rightly so.
It would be wrong to see not achieving something as a failure if that thing cannot be achieved by our own actions, or if achieving it would require us to sacrifice something more dear to us. For example, I would love to stand on the moon or on Mars, but there is nothing I can do that will allow me to achieve that. Therefore, I acknowledge that it is a desire I harbour, but I accept it is not within my sphere of influence to bring it about.
My mum was a great one for comforting us when we failed to achieve something by saying “It just wasn’t meant to be.” Yes, we should try, and yes, when we fail we should often try, try again; but if it just isn’t meant to be we need to accommodate that fact and put our effort into something that we can influence and have better potential to achieve.
It is also worth noting that just because something is a fantasy, not achievable in this lifetime, it does not follow that the thing should be abandoned utterly. It makes me happy to dream of standing on the moon or Mars and always will, despite the fact I can’t do it anywhere but in my head. The pleasure of a thing is not necessarily confined to the achievement or ownership of it.
Welcome to the United Kingdom’s National Stationery Week, incorporating World Stationery Day on Wednesday 1st May. I toyed with the idea of writing each of my three blog posts this week about stationery, but I decided to go with my usual topics today and on Wednesday. A Word of the Week can be stationery-themed anyway, and with a bit of luck and a bit more work, I might have a finished object to write about in my knitting post on Wednesday, so I don’t want to skip that.
My plan, therefore, is to write my usual blog posts and then some additional ones on a possible Filofax set-up because, much as I love using my Mark and Fold 2019 diary, I am at the point of wishing I was in a ringed Filofax again*. Also, WH Smith have some extraordinarily pretty pen sets in and I nabbed one thinking it would be ideal for colour-coding in a bullet journal or Planner. I have two branches of WH Smith equidistant from my flat; in one the pens were displayed in a dark area at the very back of the shop; in the other, they were in a slightly more prominent position, but they were locked up and you had to summon assistance if you actually wanted to buy them! Clearly they are anticipating a lot of thefts which is not the way you want to think about stationery nerds. The really funny thing was they had a more limited display of the same pens on their upper floor with no locks at all, from which we can conclude that stationery nerds who pilfer do not climb stairs, which combination surely makes them a very special breed indeed.
I dug out my Tipp-Ex correction fluid whilst typing the definition sheet this morning and I had quite forgotten how well Tipp-Ex and typewriters go together. After years of using Tipp-Ex in notebooks, it just seems much more natural and ‘right’ using it to dab on paper held taut against a platen. Thank goodness it found another purpose after the demise (or do I mean the hibernation?) of the typewriter.
* On the subject of my diary and ringed Filofaxes, the perfect answer would be to disassemble the Mark and Fold diary and house it in an A5 Filofax, but the lack of an A5 Filofax means that is on the back-burner at present.
Anyway, I hope this brief introduction to the world of stationery has entertained you on this Monday morning. Now, pick up a pen or a pencil and go!
This isn’t the Word of the Week that I was going to publish today, however it is the Word of the Week that I need. For the past couple of weeks I feel like I have accomplished little and have been alternating between two states:-
Flapping around trying to do lots of different things in quick succession and not completing any of them
Staring into space unable to get engaged with any of the little tasks on my radar
I have also hit a patch where I am picking away at separate little scenes in my novel and feeling like I am not in any kind of writing flow. This issue with the writing in particular has nudged me to think about the way I am approaching things.
What I need to do is de-frag my brain – you know, like you used to have to do with Windows computers to get the hard drive into a less muddled position and free up some disk space. Who knows, perhaps you still have to do that with Windows computers. Anyway, that’s what my head needs: a bit of a reset to allow it to concentrate on what I need to do when I need to do it.
I think this fragmentation of our attention is what we mean when we complain about the consequences of over-using our mobile devices. We get caught up in little tiny bits of this and that, things entirely unlinked; dipping in and out of the lives of people unconnected with where we are here and now. We can only do so much of that then we need to reassemble ourselves, root ourselves back in the present time, get things into the proper order. In the online world (yep – that would be the one that is causing all the trouble in the first place!) they advise you do a digital detox. “Step away from the device!” I think I need something slightly different; more a realignment of my thought processes. I know – a bit like that moment when you are making pastry and it stops being little crumbs and starts being more of a cohesive block that you can roll out. That’s a brilliant analogy because at the end of the pastry-making process you have something scrumptious to gobble up!
This week I will be concentrating on de-fragmentation (or, if things don’t go so well, pastry). How about you?
I think we all need a little renaissance every now and again; we could, in fact, think of each Monday morning as a time for rebirth, the Spring-time of the week. I know that in reality rebirth is far from all of our minds as the working week looms over us and all I am saying is that we could, perhaps, approach it differently.
I am personally in need of a little renaissance as I let things slip last week whilst I lost myself in tales of derring-do amongst prisoners of war and grieved equally for sides who won and sides who lost in the war that was being depicted.
This week, though, I need to have goals and achieve them; I need to be strict with myself about what I eat and how much I exercise; I need to get back on track. What better way to do that than to change up my planning system a bit? I have been happily using a very traditional paper diary for several months and until recently I found that writing down what I had to do each day was keeping me accountable – okay, only to myself, but accountable anyway. Recently I have noticed that this is no longer the case and I have been writing down what I need to do, but I haven’t done it. I am going to experiment with my computer-based calendar, although that is generally not my preference. I know from past experience that if it doesn’t succeed in motivating me to do the work I need to get done, it has always reminded me that a paper-based system is better and I can return to my paper diary with renewed vigour. Sometimes a change is just a way to clear your head and get it back on course.
I hope you have a productive week, or start off a renaissance of your own if that is what you need.