Tuesday, 25 November 2008

The moment my heart stopped still

Last week I drove my daughter to school. I inched along the narrow road opposite the school, tagging along behind the line of other cars dropping off, held up by the usual groups of teenagers pulsing periodically across the road in front. I hovered momentarily as Chloe stood on the pavement ahead of me, wondering when to cross.

Checking in my mirror, I saw one red car waiting behind and flashing my indicator as if I was about to pull out, I beckoned Chloe across. I watched her trotting over the road and then I saw the black car pull out from behind the red car. In the split second it took, I looked on uselessly, flitting from car to child to car to child and as the two seemed sure to collide, a bestial scream escaped from somewhere deep deep inside. The car stopped. Chloe stopped. A cigarette paper's width between the two. I had done nothing to stop it.

Life could have changed in that instant and it would have been my fault.

Saturday, 15 November 2008

Chip chip chipping away

I feel like the ants and the rubber plant in that cheesy song.

I finished my first chapter. It was way, way, way too long but my supervisor was impressed. Then again, it was the personal, intimate, small-scale descriptive stuff - the stuff I do best.

Now I'm on the next chapter - the historical background, my hardest one - and I'm struggling again. Its taken five days to write three pages and progress is painfully, painfully slow. I'm pretty sure what I need to say, what sections to have, but - as my old english teacher wrote in my school report 'clarity still eludes her'. I agonise over writing the simplest sentence, finding expression difficult and spending hours finding the correct references and quotes.

Prior to beginning the chapter I spent weeks reading over my old notes, getting to grips with the mass of information I had on the topic, writing notes of notes, drawing out points. Yet I still don't have the facts, references and quotes at my fingertips. Surely, I think to myself, there must be a quicker way to do this?

Each day, I go to bed, desperately disappointed with what I have achieved. Each day I resolve that the next one will be more productive. Each day I try to think that I get a tiny infinitesimal bit closer to completion but the pace is frustrating.

It feels as if I'm trying to carve a stone sculpture with a toothpick.