Posted on 02 August 2006

Every morning I try to take a little time (sometimes a great deal of time) to pull myself together through writing. Usually as I have noted before, it is in the attic overlooking the valley. The other day, for a change, I went to La Place and sat in the restaurant with a cafe creme.

I was sitting there scribbling in my journal when I looked up and spied a middle-aged man peeking through the curtains of his hotel room window. He must have seen that there were people all about and, nonetheless, opened his curtains wide and stepped out on the narrow balcony in only skimpy white underbriefs.

Scandalous. Has he no shame? And I look down at my notebook and ask myself the same question.

Is it inappropriate for him to stand on the balcony with practically nothing on – a hairy, smallish man, proud in his skin like a modern day Napoleon? Is it inappropriate for me to tell my crude thoughts? What do I mean by “crude”? Raw, undeveloped, unrefined.

“Leave it to others. You are not good enough,” that damned defeatist voice in my head sings loud and clear.

Why am I not good enough? “Because you are the daughter of a daughter whose parents were dairy farmers – though admittedly they were not poor, were honourable, even kind, generous folk – but, don’t you remember, you checked the records, before your grandmother, her mothers were illiterate, signed their marriage certificates with an “x” – and you with only an undergraduate degree – no great thing in this day and age – think that you have an original thought in your head?Don’t make me laugh.”

And so it goes… how many damn times I have said these things? (Please stop reading if you are as tired of me as I am.) I know I defeat myself. I have no excuses now. No job to consume my energy. No overwhelming responsibility. I am free to do as I please and so I will push myself… or attempt to be honest through my writing. Originality be damned.

At the moment, I have two channels of thought cursing through my brain. One is inspired by Virginia Woolf’s “Room of One’s Own”, and the other is inspired by the arrival of my daughter.

Is it all right, I ask myself, to be so dependent on the written ideas of others? Why not? Everyone starts somewhere and why not with the familiar? There is nothing wrong with placing oneself on solid ground before taking a flying leap.

I think of my/our daughter who is a flying leap from her father and me. She is such an amalgamation of the two of us. I stand in awe of her (as I do of all our children.) And yes, I must admit that I am envious that she is nineteen years old and has done so much in her short life. But I see also that it is us, her parents who have encouraged her and helped her in practical ways to live her dreams, gain her experience. She said that, after living with a family where the parents work too much and have little time for their children, that she values hers more.

I see also that I can learn from her. It is high time that I stop defeating myself and move ahead with what I want to do or I will die full of regrets… “there comes times – perhaps this is one of them – when we have to take ourselves more seriously or die…”

Gill and I have only a week to enjoy the south of France together. We have so much we want to do. Yesterday, we went for a women writers’ lunch in the next village with Clare and Susan. The food wasn’t bad – some courses even good – but the company of these women was superb. No small talk. Lots of laughter, hearty conversation. Today we go to a dinner party. Tomorrow Gill will make a feast. Saturday we will go to the festival at Vaour. All this activity steals my breath. We both want to relax, enjoy, contemplate… and yet, I feel tired, can’t sleep at night – last night a bat flying round my room kept me awake till after three.

It seems we are on a merry-go-round and though all is such child’s play, light and whimsical, still we are a little dizzy with all the activity.

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