Friday, 14 September 2012

The Queen of Frittering

'And this is so puritanical, but it's the idea of the parable of the talents. If you've got something you can do, it's very important to do it. I see at my age how swiftly my life has gone and how easily I could have not got serious and just frittered time away. But I didn't do that. I thought, "Actually, I have got this one thing I think I can do." And that's been very important to me.'
Rose Tremain 

I read this statement in a recent interview with Rose Tremain in the Daily Telegraph and was impressed. It struck a mighty chord that reverberated through my thoughts for a long time .That sentence 'I have got this one thing I think I can do' is the problem for me. There isn't just one thing I think I can do - there's loads of things I think I could have a crack at. I may not do them very well but the temptation is too great and so in flies the frittering.  

 I decided, age fifty, to finally try and be serious about writing, about being a writer, about owning the word, saying it out loud and meaning it.  But my problem is, and has always been, a lack of focus. I am the Queen of Frittering. I could fritter for Scotland if it was a sport at the Commonwealth Games. I'd have a good chance of getting gold. It's not just procrastination, a dreadful complaint common to many writers, my problem starts with the inability to decide what to do in the first place. This is why it's taken so long for me to decide that I am a writer. (Note that I am reinforcing this not for anyone who may read this but myself). 

I began writing, as most writers seem to do, as a child. I was constantly writing stories about ponies and show jumping. I wanted to be a journalist believing I could help change the world by reporting on the oppressed and ignored but I discovered that I lacked ambition. That intense burning zeal you need to get you to the top soon fizzled out with me, I couldn't scorch the people around me. I discovered that beneath the hard shell there was a warm fuzziness and I've been struggling to get out of that pond of compassion ever since. 

I retrained as a yoga teacher, going all out for the soft inner soul but I never gave up on words and four years ago I found myself writing a book. So here I am, a writer again. But part of me is constantly still thinking about opening a cafe, wool shop, cafe and wool shop, book shop perhaps wool, bookshop cafe complex...... you get the picture, um picture, always liked drawing, art, painting...... And at the same time I bounce like a woman in a giant pin ball machine, frittering time away as I start to hoover, then decide to tidy something, then think maybe I should take this lot to the recycling or should I keep it for a rag rug, should I start a rag rug, should I blog about rag rugs, oh look..... and I'm away again. I have frittered years doing this. How I envy Rose Tremain that she had the discipline to think 'this is one thing I can do.' 

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