In dire need of fun

by Anna Blanch on May 26, 2012

“What’s very important for me is when Dumbledore says that you have to choose between what is right and what is easy. […]. All of them are going to have to choose, because what is easy is often not right.” [Entertainment Weekly, 2000]

 This is not a post about J.K. Rowling and Harry Potter. I’ve written two of those in the last week (A Brand of Fictional Magic: J.K. Rowling and E. Nesbit and Mischief Managed: Harry Potter as Literature) and have spent almost the entire week writing about the ways in which Nesbit’s writing and imaginative approach to story-telling find a legacy in Rowling’s Harry Potter. It’s been a curious week all around. I’ve encountered more conspiracy theories (and wilder ones) than I thought possible seeking to find ill will and occultist tendencies in both E.Nesbit and J.K Rowling. Not only are these unconscionable, I’ve found myself having to develop counter-arguments and explanations should any of these bizarre suggestions, devoid of either textual or biographical support, be thrown my way as I continue to speak more often about Nesbit’s writing and it’s influence on a range of twentieth and twenty-first century authors.

Saturday is usually when I share an aspect of planning for Overland to Oz. But this post is not about that either. I am more convinced than ever of my desire to both plan and follow through on that trip, even if the demands of the job search are making it hard for me to figure out exactly when it might work out early in the new year. There’s a level of creativity that a big idea like this demands and It is stimulating and inspiring in a way that few things are.

This week has been full.  Filled with long days of writing, editing, referencing, seeking out quotes to support arguments and interacting with critics. Filled with a tooth removal and yet more antibiotics and dull gnawing pain in my jaw. Filled with a church annual general meeting and an awareness of the reality of incremental change and the work of the holy spirit and the way we excuse ill-temper in people because of age. Filled with the St Andrews premiere of a documentary celebrating the 600th anniversary of the University narrated by Sean Connery and directed by Murray Grigor. Filled with an awareness of how curious it is that we ever understand each other at all and why some people ‘click’ and others never do, despite seeming commonalities and shared belief frameworks. Filled with self-doubt and steeling myself against rightful questions and harsh unwarranted words and accusations. Filled with the smells of cooking for friends and the laughter and conversation that shared meals bring. Filled with the joy of brief conversations over the oceans and the knowledge that there is an end coming to the waiting and the parting. Filled with sunshine, and the haar, and early mornings, and rereadings and snippets of italian and german conversations and weedling my way through the line at the ice cream shop on my way to work in an ancient tower. Filled with the final duties of a post. Filled with small victories and cloesly held smiles. Filled with baby giggles. Filled with the concerns of ministrations of a life lived across continents and the vestiges of the materiality that we drag with us from point to point. It has been a full, full week. There have been glimpses of relief. Glimpses of the numinous joy of which Lewis speaks. Glimpses of a hope of an ending, and of beginnings.

I feel a little like that friend who drops of the face of the earth when they are busy and then pops their head back up with the fog of deadlines clear only to wonder where all their friends have gotten to. I’m sure if won’t be the last time that I’ve allowed the almost all-consuming demands of looming deadlines to pull me away from being more attentive to Goannatree, so i won’t apologise. I will say that this has also been a week that has thrown up so many situations in which I have contemplated a written response but have decided against it. There is an element of ‘being slow to speak’ that I am learning and relearning — and being ‘slow to publish a blog post’ in response is part of that for me.

I am determined at this stage of my writing — I am hoping to send a first draft of my final chapter to my supervisors by Thursday afternoon this week — to harness the motivation that I still have. To have motivation and actually a growing passion for my subject is a gift and one for which I am extremely grateful. That’s not to say that this process doesn’t have challenges. There have been tears this week — in direct response to the lack of confidence I am feeling about some aspects of my writing and in my colossally inept failures in relationship to others. But in the midst of it all, I am learning that the focus on the day to day goals and demands (while keeping an eye to the big picture) but not allowing the demands of the larger picture to overwhelm is the key for me.

Do you ever find that your mind just can’t concentrate on the tasks at hand as you prepare for a journey – like your mind has begun the journey ahead of you? I have learned that I need to schedule some fallow time in my work schedule for these days. To that end, I have just one more week of productive work days left in St Andrews before my mental withdrawal will begin, in advance of the next stage of my travels.

The knowledge that at the end of this particular stage of intense focus and work lies four precious days of rest with people that I enjoy and with whom I will laugh and enjoy and have some fun with. I am in dire need of some fun.

What has taken your focus and attention this week? Are they the same things as you would have liked to have your attention and focus?

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