I sat there, searching my mind for something to say, stroking, against the grain, the stubble above my upper lip. Weighing words against one another, touching them to determine their texture, turning them over, examining them, poring over their subtitles and suggestions, I began to lose track of the sentence, the bigger picture, so to speak.

I tried to pull the focus, step back and see it all, only to find I’d lost sight of it all together. The clock was literally ticking, each swipe of the second hand like a little windscreen wiper, sweeping my thoughts to the side as they tried to trickle down into view, leaving my mind blank. I had to get up, take the wooden clock from the wall and put it in the kitchen. Still, the incessant tick tick tick, as though it wasn’t coming from the clock at all but from somewhere inside my own head.


Earlier this academic year, I told my lecturer for the module ‘Writing a Novel’ that I was struggling with an idea. She, perspicacious as ever, gave an instant and accurate diagnosis: ‘Sometimes we get so caught up in here,’ she said, tapping her temple with a finger, ‘that we forget to look out there. If you just look out the window, there’s six million things you could write a novel about.’

It was true: I’d been mind-mining myself, digging deeper and deeper as the tunnels grew darker and darker, until I could no longer see to find my way out of that empty, cavernous place. Of course, reflection is important, but reflection requires something to reflect upon.

Ultimately, we are all reflectors. And what’s the use of a mirror in a dark, empty room?


I haven’t gotten up to much recently. Well, except handing in my dissertation and preparing for baby Birnie. But other than that, not much.

The internal is dependent on the external, and sometimes when I sit to write, or close my eyes to daydream, or rummage around in my head (or old computer folders) for ideas for pieces, everything seems to have dried up. I see something, I reach out for it, it crumbles to dust. It’s like trying to write with a pen that’s run out of ink, hopelessly scratching at the paper.

My partner and I went for a walk today, following the stream up through Glasney Valley and under the viaduct. We moved here in October so I’ve never seen it so verdant. Robins flittered across the path and the delicate, leafy, tangy scent of wild garlic mingled with the smell of rain and the heady fragrance of flowers. I saw a few good saplings that I might try to make into bows, and decided on tomorrow’s lunch: wild garlic pesto and pasta. And I got excited about taking my family along the same walk, to show them the burbling brook and the old stone walls, and more excited still to show my baby some of the beauty left in the world.

I came back to find the inkwell refilled.


Response to today’s Daily Prompt: Pensive


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