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.



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