Mellow unfruitfulness: N M Browne

Oh, God! It’s the end of September and my head is still in August. For the first time in twenty-five
photo 'Cherwell'
years I don’t have a child starting school or university and I am disoriented and confused. I haven’t had to argue over school shoes, iron-on labels, choose pencil cases, or duvet covers, visit Ikea or shoehorn hair straighteners into a car filled to bursting with black bin bags of essential stuff. It is zombie apocalypse levels of weird.
  I never get much done in the summer: I am lured by walks in the countryside, the odd glass of rose´ overlooking the river, or coffee out-doors watching the world go by, indulging in a little light gossip. I have lots of useful thoughts but I store them like nuts for colder weather.         This year those signs which tell me it’s time to stop metaphorically gathering hay or wool (or whatever the damn phrase is,) the secret semaphore signals to my brain to tell me to knuckle down have not been heard. I’ve always been like some migratory bird neurologically attuned to the mysterious subliminal messages of the academic year to determine when it is time to set out on the arduous journey to the winter-feeding grounds. And I haven’t yet received them.  Roughly translated this means that I still think I’m on summer holidays and haven’t got going on revising/rewriting/finishing the novels stacked up on my hard drive. Only yesterday I was sipping chilled rose´ in the garden on a school night because there is no school and the sun was shining.
   The weather hasn’t helped. I mean each lovely day could be the last day of summer. The river viewed from Richmond Hill may not look so beautiful tomorrow, the deer in the park might be less magnificent. I am so busy carpe-ing the diem that I am way behind on work. 
   Anyone who regularly reads this blog will know that it always reads like an extended justification for procrastination, but it really is worse than usual.  The dog has not eaten my homework (mainly because he died some years ago) but I have been writing short stories and poetry and nothing else, except for ‘to do’ lists which I have always ignored.

   But here I am at my desk at last. I am ignoring the dirty windows and the fact that the whole place needs a good clean and a sort out. I am not yet so desperate that I will do housework to avoid work, no, I have one more trick up my sleeve first: I am getting ready to teach a new class for Oxford Continuing Education. I think there may still be places. It is in ‘Writing for Children’ and it begins next Wednesday and I have a lot to think about and plan before then. After that, I’ll fix my novels. Honestly.  

The course I'm teaching


Griselda Heppel said…
Such a relief one is not alone in the constant battle against distraction! I can vouch for all of what you say. The shock when the academic year no longer provides that cast-iron framework of impossible-to-work time (hols)/at-last-I-have-several-free-hours-a-day time (term). And let's face it, a long summer like we've had in the UK is too special to waste a single moment of, of course you should be sitting in your garden sipping rose. The dark days of 8 months of winter will descend soon enough. Meanwhile you have an intense period of work ahead with your course at ODofCE. I followed the link - the course looks terrific!
Nicky said…
Thanks, Griselda.

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