Sunday, May 14, 2006


I want to begin by thanking Eloise for starting me off on this thought yesterday when I read her blog entry, I just don’t know what to do with myself, and the attached comments. I continued to crunch away at the subject whilst having my weekly creative time with the hoover, and got that lovely warm feeling when things started to click into place.

The subject is really that of self-belief. This is a subject that has often blipped my radar and is mostly responsible for the title of this blog, along with my love of ancient history. Why do I often feel misunderstood (which sounds rather self-involved for a woman in her forties) and why do people so often think I am arrogant or pretentious? Why do I care? Hmm; the last question is probably the easiest to answer – I hate being misunderstood because I’m a communicator and it makes me feel like a failure.

I think I found the answer to this a little while ago when I worked out that most people judge according to their own standards and behaviour – thinking I’m arrogant, pretentious, or anything else negative, says more about them than it does about me. But when does self-belief become arrogance, or does it?

One of my clearest memories from childhood was the horror of having to use the telephone to call someone I didn’t know. I was incredibly shy, although anybody who has known me during my adult life would have a very hard time believing it. I used to work out exactly what I needed to achieve with the call, how I would do it and what all the possible permutations of the exchange would be (what if the person is rude, or I get a wrong number) – it was very important to have counter measures and contingencies fully planned out ahead, I couldn’t rely on my ability to react naturally. Writing that seems so odd – I honestly don’t recognise myself – my ability to think on my feet has served me enormously well.

So, if I was such an unsure child, where did my high level of self-belief come from? To add to the big negative of being naturally shy, I also have a mother who never tired of telling me I couldn’t do things. I don’t mean she wouldn’t allow me, I mean she would tell me that I would fail – she never gave me a reason why, she just gave it as an intractable fact. She wasn’t being evil or nasty – she truly believed it herself, because of her own life experiences. I simply never listened to her. I knew she was wrong, that I could do anything if I set my mind to it. And now I’m wondering if it was perhaps one single event that sparked that in me. Did I make such a good job of one of those horrible phone calls, or tell a really convincing lie (the one I remember best from childhood was that my dad was Elvis), or make up a story or a poem (the only ones I wrote as a child were funny and end-rhymed) that everyone I read it to loved? I honestly don’t recall – I just know that fairly early on in life, I knew I could do anything if I tried. Now that’s not arrogance – that’s self-belief. defines arrogance as: “overbearing pride evidenced by a superior manner toward inferiors” and that is something I have no memory of ever doing.

Sunday, May 07, 2006


The Red Hot Chili Pepper’s new album is out – my copy is en route from Amazon – so what a great excuse to revisit their other albums.

I was horribly disappointed with By The Way – there are probably only three tracks on there that I really liked, and I think the disappointment was doubled by having enjoyed Californication so much before it. Apparently, Flea has made the comment somewhere that if you don’t like Stadium Arcadium, you don’t like the RHCPs – I take that as a very positive indication for content!

I’ve also been reading Anthony Kiedis’ autobiography, Scar Tissue and quite enjoying it – following a shaky start. At first, I thought he was making a lot of the stuff up (like having Cher as a baby sitter) but, he’s probably not – some people’s lives really are that insane.

So having got the albums off the CD shelves, I couldn’t resist burning a compilation CD with my favourite RHCP tracks, interspersed with the likes of Nirvana and Queens of the Stone Age. Driving to work yesterday, the wing mirrors were jumping – brilliant.

Monday, May 01, 2006


Having completed the first proper draft of the third (though not chronologically speaking) in my series of serial killer poems, I am facing the questions I usually face – does it stand alone, does it need to? As usual, I don’t feel that I am any closer to answers that satisfy me.

I’ve looked at other series and sequences and it seems to me that whilst it is perfectly possible to make single poems in a thematic sequence stand alone quite satisfactorily, it isn’t entirely possible to do that with a character based sequence – without the other poems in the series, the reader will never see the full character / story. But, what I really can’t work out is what each of the poems needs, to enable it to stand alone.

To me, each of the three poems so far stand entirely alone and, apart from tinkering (which could still be substantial), they all feel complete as far as content is concerned. My problem is that, to some of their readers so far, at least two of them don’t feel like complete pictures in themselves – they rely on the others in the series.

Even if I do decide that one or two of them don’t stand alone, does it really matter? I’ve read some discussions about series and sequences and about what is ‘correct’ but, isn’t it more important for me to ask myself what is important to me and to these poems?

Still thinkin’. By the way, the picture is of a Remington ‘Bullet Knife’ that appeared in the latest poem. This one is an R293 jack knife, known as a ‘Hunter / Trader / Trapper’. Don’t you just love authentic detail?