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Morning dense fog in a mountain wood

JANUARY FOG

I haven’t blogged at all yet this month – not because I’ve got nothing to say (can you ever imagine such an occasion!?) – rather that I can’t seem to find the time or creative headspace to do it. I have been keeping a mental log of all the topics that have popped into my head so far since 2015 began. I have opinions and ideas on a fair few things, and they are all swirling around in the big mental notebook I keep safely wrapped up inside my head. Of course, there is always a danger that I will forget what topic occupied my mind during my morning commute on any given day. But in the event of such a memory lapse, I simply retrace my mental steps.

I say ‘simply’. In fact, that’s not an accurate description of the way a mental retracing goes. It’s really not an easy thing to do you know; to walk back through the thoughts you’ve taken across any given timescale. For a creative person like me, who wears as many different hats as I do and thinks in full technicolour at all times, thoughts trampolining from one tangent to another, often what ends up happening is that I take a mental diversion down a totally different path into my thoughts. I end up not actually retracing any steps, but marking out a whole new journey of thought entirely, and arriving at a totally different topic for potential blogspace.

Inevitably, because so much of my creative brainstorming (I know I’m not meant to use that word anymore, but I’m not with students now, and there is no other word which quite captures the essence of a brainstorming session – thought shower really doesn’t cut it!) happens in the car, on the daily commute across the moors, there are a great many thoughts which never graduate from the drivetime they’re given.

And that January fog certainly has a part to play in all this. There must be others out there who notice it too. It’s talked about on the radio daily as the January Blues. But I’m not sure I’d agree. I mean, January is a fairly blue month for a lot of people.The days are short. The sky is grey. It’s cold. But the fog is different from the blues. It’s not about feeling miserable. It’s just that feeling that there is a heavy pea souper of a mist shrouding the potential for any real creative magic. It’s the reason*, I’m sure why very few new plays hit the theatres in January. It’s that feeling of never quite catching your tail, or your breath, and not being able to run fast enough to really even try.

The fog for me has been a fairly dense one this month. It didn’t kick in on the first of the month. Or even on the second or third. It was slowly moving in on the fourth, as I packed my school bag up ready to start the new term. And by the morning of the fifth day of the month, it was fully settled around my head. Don’t get me wrong, this isn’t a moan about work at all. We all work hard. I don’t think I’d know how to function without ; anyone who knows me out there, knows that I would work hard even if it weren’t expected of me. But there is something about January that makes me procrastinate more. I find it harder to kick myself into gear to write those reports, mark those mock exams, adapt those scripts, draft that copy for the Arts Festival brochure, do that LAMDA prep, write that new play, plan those NGA workshops.

And the only thing I can think to attribute it to, is the fog.

So how and when does it clear? That’s a good question. Never having spent much time thinking about the January fog prior to this moment, I honestly couldn’t say. I am hoping that on the weekend that January ends, my fog will shift. I am hoping that, largely because that’s the weekend I’m booked into an Actors’ Guild workshop down in London and I do not want to be foggy-headed for that!

Ideally I’d rather not be foggy-headed at all. Obviously. I’d like to be able to shake it. On cue. Today would be good. As a classic type A, I like to be able to do everything immediately and perfectly. As this is my one out of ten non-teaching days, it should be the day that I tick off my hundred and fifty reports, brochure text and blablabla. This fog seems to act like a brick wall between myself and all my jobs. Actually it’s more like treacle, or really heavy weights just slowing me down at every move. The foggier it gets, the longer my list of jobs becomes ; the longer the list, the thicker the fog. See the pattern?

I know what you’re thinking. That I’m just putting things off and making up some fictitious January Dickensian weather as an excuse. I can’t blame you for making that judgement. But then why is it only January that it occurs?

I suppose, if I think with a level head about it, I know the fog will just gradually melt away when it is ready. In the mean time, I will have to work that bit harder to motivate myself to do all the things I need to do. My biggest challenge will actually be not to beat myself up too much in the process, if those tasks take a little while longer. We all know I’m very patient with others, but my patience rarely holds out for my own shortcomings.

A very wise, very good friend of mine often tells me that even when I’m functioning at half pace, I’m still an awful lot quicker than some people. That friend is someone you’ll be getting to know a lot better in the near future by the way. There are exciting projects in the offing, and she is very much my creative partner in crime (not sure which one’s Bonnie and which Clyde, or if we’re more Sharkie and George, but either way, watch this space!) It’s also quite a funny story how we came to identify this particular partnership’s universe of potential…but that’s one to save for a much later date.

Maybe she’s right. Maybe I do expect too much. Maybe I just have to wait for the weather to change. Maybe I should hang on to the sunshine of those future ventures on the horizon, and accept the weather conditions of the moment. Maybe I should stick my fog lights on, stop wittering and get back to my reports; after all they won’t write themselves!

*disclaimer – there is absolutely no scientific evidence or research behind this claim. It is pure speculation and assumption.

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