The Twelve-Week Challenge: Day 33

I hold my hands up.  I’m rubbish at this getting-blogs-done-on-time crap.  This blog is now over twelve hours late, and I have no excuse.

However, yesterday, I did manage to get a fair bit of dissertation work done.  I knocked out 400 words and structured it a little more.  That took me all morning and most of the afternoon, but after dinner, I just wasn’t in the mood for more work.  I had intended to pick it up again later in the evening, but my mood had been soured, resulting in watching television and doing puzzles.  I decided around 10pm to get an early night, and took my laptop with me, with the intention of writing the blog before I slept.  But while procrastinating over the blog, I fell asleep, and awoke the next morning with the realisation that I had yet again missed another deadline.

When I woke up yesterday, not having written my blog from the night before, I made writing it the first thing I did.  This seemed to work. I got the blog written and posted and then for the rest of the day worked on my dissertation.  But today, I didn’t do that.  I watched my two episodes of Frasier, and then started working on my dissertation.  I’m writing about women writers, their female protagonists, and the links between, marriage, creativity and self.  I guess I’m trying to find some answers myself.  I’m using two well-known stories (in academia, anyway) from the 1890s,  Charlotte Perkins Gilman’s The Yellow Wallpaper and The Awakening, by Kate Chopin, and comparing them against novels by two contemporary female writers; Harvesting the Heart by Jodi Picoult, and Lorrie Moore’s A Gate at the Stairs.

Yesterday the 400 words I wrote were on the chapter about The Yellow Wallpaper.  A story about a woman, suffering with post-natal depression (although it wasn’t recognised back then) who goes mad, after being locked in an attic by her physician husband.  I can relate to that (the going mad part at least).

The second book I’m using, The Awakening, is about a married woman who leaves her husband and goes on a sexual and emotional journey; an awakening.  This is a journey I too, I have taken, and in fact, am still taking.

This morning I have been working on my favourite novel of them all, Jodi Picoult’s Harvesting the Heart.  Like a modern-day version of The Yellow Wallpaper, maybe a what-happens-next?, Picoult’s character, Paige, leaves her three-month-old son, Max, and husband, Nicholas, and goes on a pilgrimage to find her mother, who left her when she was five.  Harvesting the Heart is about finding the answers, and the journey you must take to do so.  Perhaps the reason I can relate is because my own journey, these last three, well, six years, if I’m honest, has been about finding the answers.  Why do I feel this way?  Where should I be in life?  What should I be doing?  When will I start to feel happy in my own skin?  As I have mentioned before, this chapter is coming to a close, and perhaps that is why I am panicking.  Because I don’t feel like I have all the answers yet.  I have a huge bundle of memories; of good times and bad, of lessons learnt, some easy to grip and some hard to swallow.  But how I put those memories together into one final picture that makes sense; well that is about these last few weeks.  Recently I feel like I’m working on a jigsaw puzzle where most of it is done, but all that is left is a hundred little bits of blue sky, that all look the same.  Until recently, I couldn’t face finishing the puzzle because I didn’t know where to start.  But now I seem to have managed to find one piece that fits, and this has given me the push I needed to try and fit the rest.  It’s a painstaking job, though, like my dissertation.  I must take the notes and references I’ve collected so far and put them into a piece of work that flows; from the introduction, through all four chapters, to the final conclusion.  This is the story of my life over the last six years, and it’s time to read back over it, and see what I’ve learned.

A Gate at the Stairs, is as the title suggests, about confinement.  But it is also a story about identity and about not making the same mistakes.  Learning, from past mistakes.  Tonight I must get my blog written on time.  If I want to move forward, I need to learn that self-discipline.  I cannot keep making the same mistakes, or how will I ever move on?

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The ‘Why Can’t I Sleep?’ Blog

Captain’s log, star date 13 September 2012, 5:18am.  This isn’t the first time I’ve been awake at such a ridiculous hour.  It’s very rare these days that I am able to enjoy sleeping right through the night.  My six month old nephew sleeps longer than I do.  It doesn’t matter whether it’s 3am (and I must be lonely, in the words of Matchbox Twenty), 4am or 5am, these days, I wake up at a random hour, but just can’t get back to sleep.  Luckily for me, I am a Lady of Leisure, or so my Facebook profile says; most days I do not have to be out the house any earlier than 11am.  With the exception of Thursdays, where for the last few weeks I’ve been dragging my sorry ass out of my pit to sit in on Alex Lewczuk’s Midweek Drive Morning Edition show on Siren FM for 8am…well, 8:05 or 8:15.  Timekeeping is not my best quality.

So, anyway, I wake up at ridiculous o’clock, can’t sleep so end up reading a book, or doing a Puzzler, after firstly checking, in order, 1) Hotmail 2) Facebook 3) Twitter.  The only problem, of course, which isn’t really a problem, more of an “I love you but…”, is that with having so many international friends, if they see you on Facebook or Twitter, will inevitably strike up a conversation with you, which is fine for them at 11pm; not so much for me at 4am.  But, even without international friendly conversations, it is usually an hour or so which passes before I can switch off my lamp and go back to sleep, making it impossible to wake before, say, the more reasonable hour (for a Lady of Leisure), of 10am.

Anydoos, I guess there could be many reasons for my awakedness.  Firstly, I am starting back at university in less than two weeks (hooray!).  As you may know, I suspended my final year at university last December, and since then, have been trying to find the motivation and concentration I was lacking previously, in order to successfully complete that elusive final year.  In fact, not really even a year; by this time in May, I hope, no, I WILL, to use my Life Coach Jon’s positive thinking, be on a jet plane flying far away.

Secondly, perhaps my life is just far too exciting to sleep for too long?  Tuesday saw the return of our The American Dream Team radio show, after a three-week summer break.  We were lucky enough to have crime writer John Connolly joining us in the studio, who was in Lincoln promoting two of his new books, after I contacted him about an interview.  I also have another well-known American band whose lead singer has agreed to an interview; I am just waiting for his management to get back to me with dates.  In my attempt to be more organised, guests for the show are being lined up well in advance of each show, with the well-known names being not just an exciting experience for us, but something I can put on my CV, in an attempt to impress those publishing types with whom I shall be applying for jobs after graduation.

Thirdly…well IS there a third? After two and a half years, I have finally submitted divorce papers to the court.  It’s not something I particularly wanted to drag out, more a point of trying to justify the money for the court fees.  After finally finding out I’m eligible for fee remission, I submitted papers twice, which were sent back twice, asking for more evidence.  I’ll have that shortly, but for now, the fee is paid, the papers are in, and that part of my life can finally come to a close.

I almost deleted the sentence above (and the one that follows) which begins “After two and a half years…”.  I got as far as highlighting them, but just couldn’t delete them.  On the bed, next to me, is Eric Foner’s Give Me Liberty: An American History, in readiness for when I finish this blog, and open up my dissertation.  My dissertation; which has a new working title of “Women’s Literature: Confinement of Marriage vs Creativity and Self”.  Tucked into Give Me Liberty, is an A4 sheet of paper; a copy of an address, which prominent women’s suffrage leader Elizabeth Cady Stanton gave to the Committee of the Judiciary of the United States Congress on January 18, 1892, some 120 years ago.  In it, she talks about women’s rights, as an individual, a citizen, a woman and lastly, in her capacity of “incidental relations”, such as mother, wife, sister and daughter.  She asked the Committee to give women the right to education; “for the full development of her faculties, forces of mind and body; for giving her the most enlarged freedom of thought and action; a complete emancipation from all forms of bondage, of custom, dependence, superstition; from all the crippling influences of fear – the solitude and personal responsibility of her own individual life.”

It is thanks to women like Stanton that I write this blog, that I co-host a radio show, that I am undertaking a Bachelor’s degree (although I would like to request that this be renamed in this new world where women are equal).  It is thanks to those women who stood up for women’s rights, who dared to allow women to be the holders of their own destiny.  I do not regret getting married, nor the ten years we spent together.  But I have learned, in order to have my own creativity and self, I need to not be afraid to be honest about how I feel about things in my life.  I am getting divorced; yes I have waited longer than I might have liked, but finally, that chapter is coming to a close, ready for me, for both of us, to start new chapters in our now separate lives.

I can’t say for certain whether any of the above issues are why I can’t sleep.  But insomnia aside, here I am writing another blog entry, another opportunity for me to work on my creativity and self.  Before getting back to looking at those women writers before me, who paved the way in literary history, to do exactly what I am doing in real life.