I’m a very logical, structured, ordered person. More than one person in my life has used the term “anal-retentive pain in the arse” to describe me, and I’m one of those people for whom everything must be in its place – neat and tidy – preferably alphabetised and colour-coded. There’s a reason I’m the Cathedral music librarian.
Which is why it’s pretty amusing that my desk at home – where I spend most of my time – is quite untidy, covered in the detritus of constant use: pens, post-it notes and bits of paper, notebooks, an unpaid bill (oops) and an old shopping list, a bottle of blue nail varnish and two drawing pins and my almost-empty beer bottle, a buy-one-get-one-free voucher for a pizza place I will never patronise and a small lump of black, porous lava which was a joking, and beautiful, gift from my dad.
Some time ago, I discovered, in all this mess, the draft of a poem. It had obviously been crazy-busy, and between writing it and re-discovering it (judging from the date written on the top of the draft, a couple of weeks at the most) I’d pretty much forgotten about it. Of course, it was familiar – I’m absent-minded, but not yet senile – but my head was obviously full enough that I’d not kept it in the forefront of my consciousness.
I re-read an old journal tonight, and I discovered the note I’d made, just after finding the poem: Ha (I’d written). Just found the poem I started the other week. Who’d have thought – it’s actually quite good! Maybe they’re right, I am actually good at this!
The journal entry then moved onto the stress of being busy, and essentially became a running to-do list (retained for posterity in a purple notebook which is now carefully filed away in a striped cardboard box which contains a number of old journals and notebooks). I don’t think I’ll value having a list of daily tasks immortalised in a narrative of my inner and outer life, but I certainly value the realisation that I came to in that entry: I can write, I am good at this – and that makes me really, really lucky.