Handbags and Writing Courses

It has been over a year since my last blog post.  An entire YEAR.  Age has a music box handle that controls time and it gleefully turns it faster as each annum whizzes past.  I have thought about writing a blog post and almost began writing one, after a rather enjoyable turney doon to the Glesgae Toon (Glasgow) to the wonderful place that is the Glasgow Women’s Library.  My best friend and I embarked on an aptly named course; ‘Creative Writing for Fearties’.  After a great day with lots of laughs and some writing, I returned to ‘The Deen’ (Aberdeen) with renewed writing vigour, determined to use some of my newly aquired feartie scribblings to create the bones of a blog post.  I opened the notebook and read over it once, setting it down after being distracted by something shinier, possibly on the TV.  My TV is actually my computer monitor, so in all fairness, it was probably a game of Solitaire.  I hang my head in shame.


However, all has not been lost entirely.  My dedication to my blog may have been ‘hingin’ on a shoogly peg’ (i.e. not solid/secure), but I have been WRITING.  I got up to 80 odd thousand words of my book, and due to approaching another painful bit, I have ditched the book for now and began writing another book, a collection of short stories for The Boy.  I am having lots of fun writing it and have even FINISHED one of the stories.  Yes indeedy. After reading about THE RESISTANCE and liking several writer-y type pages on the book of face, I have come to the conclusion that not writing is the arch enemy of all writers and I am learning to forgive myself these little lapses.  As long as I am writing SOMETHING regularly, then I am not giving myself a hard time.  Narrate is also a great wee app and I have been writing short descriptors or emotive pieces stabby finger stylee with it, rather than allowing the book of face to possess my brain for 20 minutes on the way to work.  I’d rather be doing something creative.  I’m not saying that I manage this every day, but I am writing when I can and that is good enough for now.  As the following diagram shows, this is practically scientific fact.  What a beautiful justification.


Part of the motivation for the blog post is the fact that I found a funded place on a creative writing masters, I am currently on the train to my first class, and my tutor told me last week that each student on the course has to set up a blog.  I gleefully informed her that I already had one and then afterwards, panicked when I realised I hadn’t actually written in it for over a year.  Pride and pain are always the best motivators.  The horror that she might actually read it and to have the past year a big fat blank was too much for my ego to bear.  Hence the frantic tappy tapping session on the train instead of working on my short story collection.  Don’t worry, I’m not planning on finishing it on the way down.  The train only takes just over and hour and my inner editor simply would not allow such a raw and unfinished piece to be published-  even online, and besides, the notebook with my feartie scribblings in it is at home, so this piece can’t be completed without those materials.

I’m not really sure what to expect of this new course I am about to embark on.  I have all the usual fears that I’m not whatever enough, but those fears are getting the big rubber dingy and I am doing it anyway, because I have been drawn to it.  I’m a great believer in the energy of the universe and I try to tune into it as best I can.  I am the leaf in the wind at the moment and I’m open to being carried wherever the universe decides.  Pure Zen like eh?


In all seriousness, this approach has given me an extraordinary life so far and I am quite excited about the next chapter.  I feel like a kid, full of anticipatory wonder and excitement on Christmas Eve, except for me it is Writer’s Eve, with a whole universe of possibility laid right out in front of me and I don’t mind not knowing exactly where I will end up, that’s part of the joy.  I’ve spent a fair while in recent years just drifting though life, getting through day after day, because that’s the best that I could manage at the time.  Now, I’m ready to begin LIVING my life once more, not treating every day as an endurance test and existing in survival mode twenty four hours a day.

I decided to be brave and go on holiday myself.  I treated myself to nice things, a new notebook, fresh flowers or things I really need.  I have a tendency to wear things to the point of holes in them and falling to bits.  I bought myself a new handbag.  Well it isn’t really a handbag.  I’m not a handbag kind of girl.  It is more of a rucksack, I bought it for my trip to Berlin, but it has become my new bag since I returned from holiday.  It is black and brown with a little bit of white almost Aztec pattern on it.  It has the correct number of pockets and will serve me well for my university course as well as work.

Many women, who are not me, have loads of handbags and seem to be able to transfer their daily essential items from one bag to another with relative ease.  This does not happen in my world.  I tried having two handbags on the go (once) and decided that in order not to forget anything, I had to have two of everything, one item for each bag.  This idea was abandoned when I realised that for this cunning plan to work, I may also need two heads, purses, sets of house keys, bank cards and various other items which are challenging to replicate.  For many years, the pattern has been this:

1.  Buy a new bag

2. Take essential  items only from the old bag, (which is most definitely full of crap, has holes and is falling to bits) and deposit in shiny new bag

3. Store old bag with fuckloads of crap at the bottom in bottom of wardrobe or cupboard without checking if I need any of said crap, but keeping it just in case I do

4. Feel smug and organised with my shiny new crap-less bag

5. Find old bag mouldering in a cupboard somewhere 5 years later and throw directly in the bin, crap and all

6. Glumly realise that new bag is no longer shiny and is full of holes and crap

7. Repeat steps 1-6

I should really entitle this piece ‘My handbag life’ or something equally ridiculous sounding.  I have even been refusing receipts at the till, in some kind of vain attempt to reduce the time frame in which the crap in my bag mounts up.  My question to you all and the handbag Gods is:


Mountains of the stuff seems to cascade from the heavens and land in my rucksack.  Some of these random items baffle me.  Some handbags I have been afraid to delve into too deeply for fear of what I may find down there, like some nightmarish version of Mary Poppins’s carpet bag.  My recently deceased rucksack, a very ‘me’ navy and white star number with a brown suede trim has a giant hole in the top, caused by me shoving too much crap in it at one time, and also has the obligatory receipt/random crap graveyard that inevitably haunts every bag I ever own.  We were asked at the fearties writing course to write a response to a poem about a handbag, so here is a small excerpt from that day.  Please note, I have zero control over what comes out.

‘I’d always wanted a fancy handbag.  Not one with a stupid name plastered on it or a logo that doesn’t mean anything except ‘look at me, I’m an arsehole’.  A real, good quality bag, one that will practically last forever and won’t fall to pieces after 6 months of hard use.  I’d also like a purse to go with it, one that fills up with money every time you empty it.  I’d like a set of spare faces for when mine get worn out and fed up with pretending.  Lastly, I’d like a never ending lip crayon, that would paint my squint lips any colour I tell it to.  This would save me the pain of being skint, looking bored when I am supposed to be interested, and I would never have the wrong lip colour with me.  This is pure fantasy of course, as my reality is Beetroot juice stains lining the worn suede bottom with a graveyard of receipts, unclaimed vouchers, tatty old inhaler boxes, empty wrappers and other assorted items.  I have a raggedy purse full of nothing but points cards and some personal trinkets.  There are lost things in the bag that will never be found again.’

So, there we have it, the handbag excerpt.  I’m not really that impressed with it now that I read back over it, but that is the nature of writing, some things you keep, some you discard.  But keep collecting, just like the crap in your handbag.  Some very annoying naturally tidy people may argue that the accumulation of handbag crap is a direct result of my naturally untidy nature and chaotic lifestyle.  I am willing to admit that there may be slivers of truth in this theory.  But this is also my writing style and part of who I am.  I don’t want to discard everything without a thought, because you never know when you might need it.  So into the blog it goes, and maybe, one day, it will come back and emerge into something beautiful.  If not, one can always celebrate the arrival of a shiny new bag – for a short time at least.


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