Bits and Bobs

My grandmother had a drawer in her kitchen cupboard that she called the ‘bits and bobs drawer’. It held what she deemed important but didn’t necessarily belong in any of the other drawers, either by size, category, design or purpose. The bits and bobs drawer housed used circus ticket stubs, the instructions and guarantee for a toaster bought over two decades earlier, rubber bands so old they had started to perish and were adhered to each other like mates in an old folks’ home, and the ubiquitous short, grubby and blunt lead pencil.  Drawer02

Today’s post is going to be a bit like the bits and bobs drawer: for instance, yesterday was the first meeting of the writing group I and three other women recently put together. We found each other through a mutual friend, we’re all professional women, we all want to improve our writing and publish our work and we’re looking for sensitive, constructive support for our endeavours. Unfortunately, I arrived a few minutes late and the cafe I suggested we use for the gathering was closed for the day, so we had to quickly regroup. Despite the wobbly start, it was a wonderful meeting. My co-writers are talented, articulate, perceptive and sensitive; the writing Gods (Goddesses) were indeed smiling on us when we found each other. By the end of today, however, I need to contact the other members of the group and let them know about the venue for the next meeting and provide some written notes on our discussion…

…I’m working with two other people to organise a writing event (it’s very exciting, so watch this space) and I need to send them some material …

… Cadence has an audition this afternoon, the second this week (which is a rarity) so given we only own one car we have to juggle our schedules because I’m going for a walk with Glory this afternoon. Glory inspired my first post and, partly, this blog. In July it will be ten years since she was diagnosed with breast cancer, ten years of glorious survival, so today I want to discuss where we’ll go for a celebratory dinner. I took her out to dinner five years ago, and I’m looking forward to this coming July, the one in five years’ time, the one five years later and the one after that …

… I need to write a reference for another friend …

… Later today I need to work on a chapter I plan to submit for a book proposal. It’s about mature aged women who have written a memoir for their PhD. I’ve been promising to submit it since the end of last year and I must complete it by the end of this week but I’m not sure it’s possible because…

… Tomorrow I’m getting my hair cut and then babysitting, and on Friday one of my friends is launching her poetry book. Oh, there’s an idea for a future post: I’ll write about the book and maybe ask if I can share one of her poems while I’m about it.

But it’s the chapter that’s commanding my attention today. I need to pull it out from the bits and bobs drawer of my mind and deal with it. I don’t exactly have to ‘write’ it, just modify and reshape a small section of my exegesis. It’s not a difficult task, so why, over the last few months, have I baulked every time I’ve tried to finish it (and, therefore, have a chance to finally be published in a scholarly text)?

An exegesis is a written explanation of an artist’s creative, practice-led, academic research. Universities are finally willing to embrace PhD research that explores the dimensions and significance of putting an idea into action and making, in my case, a piece of ‘creative non-fiction’, specifically ‘life writing’ and, more specifically, a memoir. This means that as well as producing my memoir I was required to describe and analyse how I created it and what informed or shaped the process and the final product. Accordingly, I researched:

  • Women’s autobiographical texts and theories about life writing,
  • Various theories concerning narrative voice and narrative point of view,
  • The origins of the story of Goldilocks and the Three Bears and how her tale was adapted and changed.

The most important part of my research, however, was into therapeutic writing and how a person writing as a form of therapy might gain extra benefit if they used both first person voice (‘I did, I saw, I went’) and third person voice (‘she did, she saw, she went’). That’s the section my contribution to the proposed book will describe. It’s also the section closest to my heart, the section where, for me (as I hoped it would), the healing occurred. That’s probably why reworking the exegesis is confronting. I have to retrieve it from the bits and bobs drawer, smooth its pages and read it again, and it feels like picking at a scar that’s puckered and still tender.

GoldBear  Writing my memoir and the exegesis took five years. In that time my marriage ended, both my parents died, I moved house three times, drove into the back of another car and, a month or so later, fell and broke my arm. It’s little wonder I’m reluctant to revisit that time, even though I’m proud of the work I did and of my memoir.

I’ll do it, though, because I’ve committed myself and I always follow through on my commitments. I may not send the blessed thing off this Friday, however, I might ask if I can have yet another weekend…

… and, finally, when I peered into my bits and bobs drawer I found something new, something my friends who have already retired told me I would discover: I am as busy now as when I was working. In fact I’m busier, and I don’t mind at all.

Your turn: Have you got a bits and bobs drawer, either real or metaphorical? What is hidden at the back of your drawer? How did it end up there? Is it time to clean out your bits and bobs?

5 thoughts on “Bits and Bobs

  1. Wow! You’ve had a lot going on since you wrote your exegesis. No wonder it’s been so hard to finish it up. Does that, perchance, have anything to do with finally moving on from something or other? (Btw, I haven’t opened my Bits & Bobs drawer for years. I’d be afraid to!!! :D)

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    1. Hi Calen,
      Actually, the stuff I listed happened while I was writing my thesis. Life has been fairly stable since I completed my PhD! As for moving on, yes, there was a lot of ‘moving on’ occurring before and during my five years as a post grad. Apparently, according to the folk I know who have done a doctorate, that’s quite ‘normal’.
      Cheers
      Janet

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  2. Thanks for sharing Janet. My gran had a dresser just like this one in her kitchen. It reminds me of my childhood visiting her house. She used to make all her grandchildren Welsh cakes, and she had a bottle of chicory coffee in the top of her dresser for my mum and aunties
    I am in the middle of writing a ‘bits and bobs’ story based around the stories that my mother has told me about her own childhood in WW2.. It s a work in progress at the moment, but I love to hear them. This picture has reminded me to write some more of the story! 🙂

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    1. Love the idea of those Welsh cakes, Suzanne. One of my grandmothers was a Scot and she used to make us Dundee cake. Glad my writing inspired you to get back into your. I love it when that happens. Cheers,
      Janet.

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