Richard Pierce

Richard Pierce – author, poet, painter

Life, Writing

Day 67

My brain feels starved of words this morning. Although the sun is shining. Ebbs and flows.

Occasionally, a monastic existence has its attractions; the repetition of rituals, the sense of being cut off from the world physically, an existence away from noise and haste. You may have guessed I watched Stacey Dooley In The Convent last night. Ignoring the unquestionable populism of her programmes (and some associated controversies), it’s always interesting to see how the glitz interacts with the modest. Of course my problem with a monastic existence is that I like sex, and that I’m no good at living within rules that could be deemed as arbitrary. I have in the past pondered retraining as a vicar because I sometimes get this sense of having a calling, but I am not convinced that any establishment of any faith would want in its midst a man who thinks organised religion is a usurper of real faith.

The words are dripping out of my finger tips very slowly this morning, and I shall never be able to stick to my 30-minute limit.

I did write almost 1k words for The Mortality Code last night, to bring to a close one chapter and start the next. So the fate of the person bleeding out has finally been decided. I can’t say more than that, but never forget the one and only writing rule worth paying attention to (except for those of grammar and punctuation which you must know if you want to effectively be able to break them and invent a new language) – kill your darlings.

I need some breakfast.

Standing outside just now after breakfast, I realised why I sometimes have to force myself to write these words. Despite doing this for 67 days now, I still haven’t managed to overcome being drawn to start work as soon as I get up, to sit down and get something that I might describe as productive and meaningful. It is, after all, the habit of a life time, ever since I started working in 1985 (I think). It always struck me as a strange thing, that a man obsessed with putting words together in patterns should also be drawn towards sitting down in front of spreadsheets and practical problems, an eternal conflict, if you like. But the point is, especially with the job I do now, that it’s a vocation more than a job, that it’s something in my blood, something that’s part of me as a person. Someone, and I forget who, said to me yesterday that no-one’s defined by their day job. I do two full-time jobs (day and writing), and they’re inseparable from each other, and from me as a person. Mostly I think that must be a good thing, although it leaves little time for other things (I guess those edges of the shroud that’s me are the ones that lack focus).

Two things yesterday that meant a lot to me.

A book arrived yesterday morning that I’d not ordered; Humankind by Rutger Bregman. Initially, I had no idea who it was from, but it rang a bell, as I was sure I’d been talking about it on social media with someone. So I searched my twitter (nothing), my WhatsApp groups (nothing), my Instagram (nothing), and finally my fb conversations. This all just demonstrates what I mean about being worried about losing my memory. And in the fb conversations I realised that only a few days ago one of my best friends (who lives in Belgium and whom I used to play cricket with) had mentioned the book to me in 2020, and again a few days ago. And had sent me the book. I am overwhelmed by such kindnesses.

B, whom I met through work (though I’ve never met her) emailed yesterday about how she was feeling sad and frozen by the war in Ukraine, and how she has a tendency to retreat from the world when such disasters happen, and in her email described watching chatterings of jackdaws (that is the collective noun; I checked after she used it), and how she admired the way I use words to talk about my reactions to the world. She’s an artist. I said maybe we need to focus on small happinesses, that she should sketch her jackdaws. That those birds were small happinesses. She also said she didn’t know how I did everything I do – I don’t see myself as doing everything I do; in fact I see myself as a lazy man. Therein lies all my thought.




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