Thursday, September 13, 2007

paper ballerinas

Okay. Got my groove back. Or whatever it's called. 

Wrestled with demons yesterday, then beat them into submission. My efforts were aided by the arrival of a small box of apples, individually wrapped in tissue paper, each picked off trees on the West coast and posted before the dew had time to dry. Opening the box  released a perfume of apples so intense I could almost imagine myself standing beside the trees, watching as each fruit was picked. These old varieties of apples are my favourite part of the late summer harvest ; a part I'd thought I'd missed by being here, in Shetland. 

This morning, the herring gulls were a strident chorus of feathery shriek alarms, waking me long before my alarm gave its digital chirrup. When the gulls land on my roof, they're only a few inches away from where I sleep in the rafters. They sound heavy ( man ) as their pink feet crash onto the tiles. Seen up close, they are enormous, their beaks viciously yellow, their heads performing exorcist-like rotations as they scan all incoming traffic for its calorific value. 

Over dinner last night, I learned the art of turning a napkin into a ballerina. Yeah, I know. For this I travel over seas and oceans? Actually, yes. For this gentle transformation of trash into keepsake, I think it may well be worth going the distance. But since you're being so sniffy about it, then I won't tell. Suffice to say, all twelve of us at the table had a go at folding, tearing, tweaking and twisting our napkins into these delicate little paper ballerinas. So pretty were they, that our Nepalese waiter returned our table with a fresh stack of napkins and asked to be shown how to do the ballerina thing too.

Since then, I've made a few ballerinas, but my ones look as if they have gout. Or a goitre. Or elephantisis. They bulge in all the wrong places, which, as anyone who knows me will attest, Will Not Be Tolerated. Bulges R Not Us. I'm working on achieving the perfect, long-legged, curtseying, wide-skirted version. In paper, not flesh, although if making perfect paper ballerinas has a knock-on effect on my bulges, then hey - bring it on. I may even sneak out and buy a whole sinful packet of napkins to practice upon, all the better to achieve perfection. 

Talking of which, I'm trying to work through the last edit of Witch Baby which must be the final edit v. 48.9.13. Part of my problem with this edit is that the copy-editor's comments are written in the margins in the smallest type I have ever seen. I waved it under Donald's nose and we agreed that whatever it is, it has to be waaaay smaller than 9 point, which means that my eyesight is frankly not up to the job. Peering and blinking and, I have to confess, occasionally cursing like a sailor, I'm trying to get to the place where I can go - FINIS. 

Every time I think I'm there, the light changes, the shadows rush towards me and the cool, clean water I was about to dive into turns out to be sand. I am so very weary, and it's so very disheartening to discover I still have miles and promises and all that Frosty stuff to go. And I can't get on with discovering what I'm going to write about in response to being here, to allow whatever that may be to rise to the surface until I've finished with v. 48.9.13. 

So. Note to self: Brains will be cudgelled. Eyeballs will be forced into focus. Will nail self to chair until it's done and dusted and then....

then I'm going to go and walk for a very long time, hopefully up something high, or, if that's not possible, along something beautiful, and I'm going to attempt to put myself into a suitably receptive frame of mind which, I'm hoping, will allow whatever's out there to arise and show itself. At least, that's the plan.

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