Writing Update

In order to celebrate the summer solstice (since I can’t make it to Stonehenge and I would probably never find the place anyway) I’d like to draw attention to some more stuff I’ve been working on.

SAMSUNG CAMERA PICTURES

View from my abode – love that midnight sun

#1 – My latest fling with some verse*

*Now has its own page on this site: “Meta-lite”

#2 – An extract from my new work-in-progress short story “Spin”, inspired by the legend of Arachne:

Before I really understand what I’ve taken on, I am unceremoniously set to work at the loom, with a different, much lower, stool to sit upon for the purpose.

I really have to reign in my recurring impulse to embellish the tapestry in my own way. I am given strict instructions not to “deviate” from the pattern. She has it all planned out for the big day.  I look at the picture, already becoming clear to see, of a young devout man, and a young devout woman – separately – imploring the gods to grant them a wish I cannot decipher from the clues provided here. This is followed by a cluster of young men and women enjoying each other’s company in an entirely wholesome way, then a flock of birds soaring over a field of wheat and grain.  The tapestry ends, rather abruptly, over the face of a young maiden (I don’t know if it’s the same one as the first one but she has a different expression on her face), and this is where I have to take over and finish the tapestry. It is around this point that I realise that I have not actually been provided with a “pattern”, per se, but the instructions were explicit nonetheless, to finish the tapestry in a way that is fitting. They have obviously credited me with barely enough common sense to finish the pattern more or less by repeating what has come before.

Each time I return to the tapestry, I re-evaluate what I have to do next, and it changes only a little each time. Mostly, I try to recreate what has come before – groups of young men and women enjoying a chaste gathering, flocks of birds, trees and bushes, houses, basically anything inoffensive.

I begin by finishing the girl’s face and body. She is perhaps too symmetrical to be realistic but better that than imperfect – or ugly.

I soon find that this is too easy, but at the same time it’s too hard, too boring to do this all day every day. The temptation to alter the pattern, to add my own flourish, is getting stronger each time I sit down to face the loom once again. I fantasise about making the silliest and boldest changes to the tapestry; having the young man yawning whilst praying, the young woman’s strand of hair coming a little loose, the lambs bouncing around the field, the birds “depositing” on the house below, one of the young men giving a sneaky pinch to one of the  young women… but each impulse I only barely manage to suppress, falling in line with the prescribed pattern.

This task has taken a few days, as I’ve been called away from the project several times to attend to some other chore in the house. I am going to give myself the gift of something of my own.

 I set to work, barely thinking about each motion I go through in my sequence which I’ve taken many years to learn to perfection.

Eventually the tiny threads converge to make a rainbow-like string, strong enough to catch the light, yet delicate enough that I barely felt it when I placed it along my wrist, allowing myself to imagine what it would be like to be allowed to wear such a thing, such a thing that wouldn’t snap and flutter away if caught on something.

It just barely covers the mark made upon my wrist many years ago, which although faded with time. It is now covered with something of my own making. Almost. Not quite.

 

Happy pagan dancing!

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Just Trying To Help… Spare Some Change?

I’m going to disclose something potentially damning about myself now: I’ve never had a paid, conventional, 9-5, full-time job before. Well, I’ve never had one that encompasses all these qualities at the same time.

Although I’ve been able to safely account for most of my “working” life by virtue of being at university* (full-time, or as full-time as an arts student can be…), and in volunteering, the often-uncomfortable fact is that, due most likely to a combination of circumstance and simple bad luck in that area, I’ve made it to nearly-thirty with less “working” experience than your average school-leaver, fresh out of the can.

*Also, I guess that spending those years at university investing in a degree which is probably one of the LEAST likely to lead directly to paid employment also hasn’t helped my situation.

However, this isn’t for lack of trying, particularly upon my leaving school with considerably poorer grades than I was hoping. At my peak, I was dumping around 5-10 of my proudly-tailor-made CVs per day upon the unwitting shop-bar-cafe circuit in my town; only a (child-size) handful of which actually invited me for an interview; almost none of whom actually offered me anything. Eventually, I would end up acquiring a very short-lived customer service job and a brief stint in “hospitality temping” – both of which I became certain I was suited to in NO way…

Furthermore, during those times when I found myself out of both work and education, I found myself actually WANTING to do something productive with my life. For me, finding work wasn’t just a way to earn money and make a living, it was a way to potentially enrich my life and to “make a contribution to society” – win-win.

Thus I was initiated into the world of volunteering. I started out helping in my local Oxfam store, which I grew to like enough to actually want as a paid position, except none were then available. I got a well rounded impression of working for a charitable organisation and felt… of-use. Then sometime later along came a full-time placement doing editing and graphic design for a local community project – full-time, but still technically volunteering.

Then in the middle of uni, I did more Oxfam time here and there, then when I graduated I had WAY more free time to fill, and job prospects which ended up being only slightly better than when I started my course. The trouble was that by the time of my graduation, the climate was such that not only were jobs scarce even for the most highly qualified people, but now competition for volunteering placements had grown so much that there were virtually queues out the door to basically work for free.

A few years ago, shortly before graduating, I applied for a mobile library role which would involve helping to deliver books to those unable to come to the library. After an intensive interviewing process and a thorough background check, I then heard… nothing. Ever again. I’m still not sure whether they were inundated with applicants in which I got lost in the shuffle, or they simply found a better fit for the role. Either way, it would now seem that even offering time for nothing in return would be a new challenge.

Something to this effect would happen a few more times between then and now. I would apply for a volunteering position with a view to “making-a-contribution-to-society” (and frankly, also to stop myself going insane), I would go along a few times, basking in the feel-good glow which comes from doing-a-good-thing. I believe I even dared to allow myself to feel a little smug on occasion.

Then the work-load would cease, or I would no longer be needed for the position, or communication would simply cease for whatever reason. Then I’d be back to square one.

I’m still not entirely sure whether I’m going wrong somewhere in the whole process of volunteering, or if there is just no place for a would-be writer/researcher/librarian (where my skills most closely lie, if anywhere) in this mad new world with far too many people also wanting to do-a-good-thing.

But in the absence of that ever-elusive full-time job which has been dodging me ever since I’ve been old enough to require one, I need to do something to keep the encroaching tide of ennui at a safe distance.

Or I might even be forced to take up running again.