I think I know that by the time I get around to actually writing my fifteen-thousand-word assignment of my own personal Open University education journey, I’ll be using my new blue notebook. It won’t be the blue Ted Baker notebook anymore. It’ll be the new blue notebook that I bought. The one that I had purchased purely for my proper book, An Englishman in Paris – A Master in Mastering My Master’s. Of course, by the time I’m ready to start editing it properly, I’ll already have a very good foundation of entries by virtue of the fact that I would’ve had a good number of practice runs leading up to it, as seen by this blog. The scope for editing will be vast in general, I will however be keeping the diary-entry style and running with it. I’ve come this far so I don’t see any point in altering it. It is, after all, about the journey I’ve made surrounding my Master’s and Paris. I’ll simply worry about that afterwards; there’s still plenty of time.
Throughout this Master’s, which I started about 18 months ago in 2019, I’ve been trying to create an ongoing account of my visits to Paris. I’ve also taken retrospective looks about previous visits, incorporating them where necessary, or simply as an inclusion in the entry that I write. Plus, I have utilised current affairs within the more recent pieces. But my idea was to construct a book with my own thoughts and writings as I went. This was a conscious decision that I made, in order to always have a piece of writing to hand. That I could hand in. And, in fairness, it worked. More so this year than last, as the assignments weren’t particularly geared to what I was expecting, during that year. But nonetheless, I kept going with this notebook and managed it. Up until now.
My previous assignment was to construct a synopsis and write a letter of introduction which I did – the result of the “TMA” is still currently pending. The one prior to that had me looking at an author that had influenced me. That wasn’t easy. As far as I was concerned, I write the way I write because my mind starts to think, and I put the words down on paper. Or screen. I then flow for as long as possible. I’m stopped by only a handful of variables; expected and unexpected. One way I’m stopped, the most frequent for me, is time. I’m normally writing in what I feel is my spare time. And it either runs out or it gets interrupted. If I sit in a Costa Coffee (which seems like a pandemic ago) then they may close. That’s when it runs out. Likewise, it runs out if I’m sat on the Eurostar and it arrives back at St Pancras. Another form of the time running out is where I write before work. Or, if I’m waiting for someone. These aren’t really what I call writing in my spare time, but more a question of finding time or, more accurately, grabbing time.
The interruption of my writing occurs when I have the spare time or have grabbed the time to write and I’m quite literally, in the literal sense, interrupted. This could be by someone coming over to me for an unplanned chat, a conversation via a texted message or a break in my focus for one of many reasons. These occasions set me back quite a bit in terms of creative flow. More so than having run out of time. When I run out of time, I’m knowing that it’s going to happen; but unsure as to when. It means that my thought process, the one that is about two-topics ahead, still manages to hold the thoughts until a short while after. When that flow is obliterated unexpectedly, the thoughts disappear into the ether for a much longer period of time. And it takes me longer to recover. Think of it as dreaming when you’re sleeping. If the dream comes to a natural ending, you tend to roll over and fall back asleep. However, if you’re awoken by an external noise then in general, getting that shut eye takes a whole lot of effort. And as reported in Saving Private Ryan, the best way to stay awake is to try and fall asleep. I think that’s what they said, I don’t recall if it was that way round or the other way, but I do remember thinking how correct the soldier was when he retold the story to the rest of the troops.
Another way that I’m stopped with my writing is when I run out of creativity. This isn’t a natural organic arrangement. I could be tired, starting to sober up or simply having too many thoughts going around my mind. It’s not always a bad thing, the thought-overload. Yes, sometimes I don’t want to be thinking about the shipping containers for work, the phone bill, the shopping and the laundry. This is the negative side of overthinking. Granted, it would be classed as a mild form if these were the only things going on inside my head. The positive aspect of the overthinking mind is more of a creative conundrum. My writing flows as my mind gains speed. Sometimes, I struggle to keep up with it. But once I’ve collected the thoughts that transform into words, it is already moving onto the next topic before the ink dries. The digression and deviations that take place in those split seconds demand attention. Sometimes, that involves making notes, other times, research. I am forced to stop mid-flow to look up words, phrases, historicity, similarities, associations, or even what apparently appears to be an initially random idea. Whilst it doesn’t shut down the creativity per se, it does stall the writing. But in a way that sets me up for a future piece.
As a for instance, if I’m