Beyond words

I go through fits and starts when I am writing. Sometime I am stunningly prolific and write screeds and screeds, blog post upon blog post and other times I’m like ‘nah’. I am in one of the ‘nah’ modes right now. Even with the stories I write, which isn’t so unusual. What I have been doing lately has been reading over old stuff and spot gaps and things I might have done differently. I feel a little tapped out. What ideas I do have aren’t quite ready yet, if that makes sense. They are just percolating away up there in my noggin and just need the right words to come by. That could take days or weeks, I’m not sure yet.

I write these posts usually at home. By my bed are three slips of paper. Two feature ideas for posts not yet written while the other has the rough structure for when I publish things. Ideas not yet written are:

Places to hide and to be safe

Smelly rain

Vernacular geography

Isle of May

Persevere revisited

How things are connected

North Berwick Law

Writing one thing and thinking of somewhere entirely different

Forth Road Bridge

London Underground

Patrick Geddes

Carrick-a-Rede Rope Bridge

Tantallon Castle

Glasgow Subway

The Scottish Parliament building




That’s the list of ideas at the moment. I try to think ahead so I actually have some photos for some of these ready to go for when I can be bothered to write them.

Sometimes writing is incredibly easy. It comes freely, naturally and easily, with the words like ‘raindrops off a farm gate’ as George Mackay Brown said. Other times, though, it is hard work. It depends on what I am using to write – I often write more readily on my laptop now. Starting a blog post on paper is increasingly hard. On my laptop, I often start posts and get two sentences in (more often less) while when I was trying to write on paper yesterday, there was almost a full page of crossed-out first sentences. It all depends.

It’s probably why I couldn’t imagine being a full-time writer. I like being out in the world too much to spend full-days agonising over a sentence in some garret. Writing is a good sideline, something fun to do rather than watching Coronation Street or whatever. But I couldn’t imagine doing it all the time. I thought recently about being a sportswriter but my problem is that I only care about one sport and one team playing that sport. Finding something interesting to say about Kilmarnock vs Inverness Caley Thistle would strike me with horror. Besides I write about the edges of things so a sports report that mentions the shadows on the sides of the stand or the merits or otherwise of the pies is probably not what folk want to read.

The edges of things. Now, there’s a thought. I am quite a good lateral thinker. I think around things and issues. It’s like leaping from building to building with slightly bigger jumps each time with my thoughts. Thinking around things is the way I operate because I can get hypnotised by the complexity of life. I get easily overloaded. When I write, it helps to make sense of life. That is hard enough to do at the best of times. There are moments when writing isn’t adequate, though, and I think that tends to be at the extremes too, of emotion, of those parts of the human condition and experience that show our species at its very best and very worst. For me, emotions are in that bracket too. Emotions are tricky to write about. I find it easier to describe what I see rather than what I feel. When I posted about Samye Ling recently, my brain was a little too full of the experience to download it into words. Emotionally, I was enriched for sure. I felt more at peace than I have in ages. But I can’t express exactly why or how. And that’s fine. Some things are beyond words.

At the moment, I am a little beyond words. I will get back into it shortly, I am quite sure. Writing this post has helped with that, actually, in finding a way back in. Sometimes all you need is the right kind of thought, a word or a sentence, an image even, that takes you all the way. It can happen at any time and anywhere. One of last week’s posts, Bridge art, was inspired just walking across a bridge. I had the thought ‘oh, I should post about that’. It comes and goes.



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