Skip to main content

Reading - and not writing

I have been struggling to focus and put PhD worthy words on the page for a while. Every free morning, afternoon or evening I sit at my laptop, staring at my critical paper, urging myself to think, think, think. I think I'm thunk out. Is this demotivation, this marked decline in engagement, insidious self-destruction? I need to get my mojo back, that much I do know. This morning I was meant to spend the day at the British Library, reading and writing. But I slept late and badly last night and when the alarm went I switched it back off, but lay awake instead; talked myself out of going. It's ok and normal for that to happen once in a while but when it seems often then it's an issue. Ok, so what's normal? Maybe I'm just naturally demotivated at the moment and need to go with it? Is that akin to allowing oneself to fall into a black hole marked despondency? And besides, such lapses in critical and creative processes cannot be honoured. It's not downright depression. But I do think of Jung, who had a lengthy 'creative illness', yet he could afford it, it would seem. I cannot. I must plough on for the planned and desired outcome - a PhD - and not wait for whatever would be there if I wallowed in it. Perhaps 'wallow' is harsh. I am a bit stuck though. I hope that it's different tomorrow. I have set my alarm for 7.30 and would like to be in Kingston for 9/9.30, where a different, studious environment will force me to engage. I hope.

I am also reading a little for pleasure at the moment. Yesterday I had intended to buy the Costa award winning Hare with the Amber eyes by Edmund de Waal. Yet somehow I felt, carrying the book uncertainly around the shop with me whilst perusing others, that it would not be worth my while reading about these Japanese netsuke(?) - carved items that are used to fasten kimonos - these objective correlatives, even though I would be sure to read too the history of postwar Europe through the wealthy family to which de Waal, a potter, belongs. Instead I bought Crimson China by Betsy Tobin on the strength of the back cover. The main character is a heavily depressed alcoholic woman... She inadvertently finds herself rescuing Wen, an illegal Chinese cockle picker working in Morecambe. Yes, it is based on those poor cockle pickers who died there in 2004. It is written well enough - clear, unhindered prose. Yet already some of the developments are too likely - or unlikely. Wen's sister, Lilli, goes to London to begin to trace her brother's life, and needs to move into a room of her own and the very same day she is offered a room in a nice little set-up. I shall no doubt read on. I wanted an easy read and now I'm complaining that I got one. Anyway. Onwards.



Popular posts from this blog

Who was Mary Burns?

On 7th January 1863 Mary Burns was found dead from a suspected heart attack. She was 43 years old. Since her death Mary has received barely any attention despite the fact that she spent over twenty years as the common-law wife of Friedrich Engels, one of the world’s most influential thinkers and the co-founder of Marxism.

Born in 1822, Mary was the oldest surviving child of textile dyer and factory operative, Michael Burns, and Mary Conroy, Irish immigrants from Tipperary. Mary’s parents had married at St. Patrick’s in an area known casually as Irish Town, one of few Catholic churches in Manchester at that time. The year of Mary’s birth and her infancy were significant in that Manchester was still dealing with the aftermath of the event that became known as the 1819 Peterloo Massacre, a peaceful protest of the working-classes on the site of St. Peter’s Fields in which several people were killed and hundreds injured. The Massacre occurred when magistrates, alarmed at the size of t…

Booker Shortlist announced

It's been a while... I know. Dog walking on the Downs, a bit of theatre, a bit of baking, a bit of writing etcetera etcetera. I also managed to read two complete books in the past month, which I was so pleased about. I had not read a whole book for about a year. The first was A Lie About My Father by Scottish poet/writer, John Burnside; a very well written memoir about father and son, but like all memoirs, some unreliability I felt. Poignant and tragic in equal measure. Then my husband returned from Cyprus (too hot for me this time of year, I can barely cope with England!) with Sebastian Faulks's Birdsong. He loved it. And then I read it and also loved it. I had originally picked it up several years ago but didn't get beyond Amiens, where the first section is set, but was really glad I did this time around. Another incredibly well written book in the style of a good Victorian! I felt a bit unsure about bits of Elizabeth, in the later section, but I have never learnt so muc…

My PhD critical paper

I thought I'd upload the critical element of my PhD thesis. Hopefully, for those who are interested enough to read it, it will make sense despite the references to my creative work, which I can't upload as I'm seeking publication. And besides, at 68,000 words...

I'm also going to tweak section one of this three section critical paper with a view to journal publication because of the academic interest in the claims I make of Mary.




-Dedicated with love and respect to Dr Bruce Lloyd-


And in memory of my parents:
Thomas Valentine and Joan Theresa
Good people who taught me so much more than they realised

***


The biggest thank-you is due to Norma Clarke, Professor of English Literature and Creative Writing at Kingston University, who supervised this PhD. I never had cause to doubt my initial instincts as Norma proved to be the best mentor I could ever have wished for.

I would also like to acknowledge the generous studentship that I was fortunate to be awarded by Kingston Universi…