One of the features of this time of year, a feature closely connected with the role of domestic goddess, is the ability to go through an entire day without any attempt at real thought. Apart from a brief existential inner debate about adding apricots and hazelnuts to stuffing, I have pondered not a jot today. I have read practically nothing. I have been busy - though now I can't think what I have achieved. Busyness for the sake of being busy? How easy it is to kid oneself!
But is it possible to weigh serious issues every day of one's life? Probably - but something would have to go, wouldn't it? I'm not thinking about the work which occupied so many years of my life - I may have helped generations of pupils to think seriously, to look at the big ideas, but this was rarely a mind-stretching experience for me. Gratifying, maybe, but not challenging. I am, however, thinking of the all too rare moments when I am seized with the desire to write something - usually a poem - and become obsessed and distant until it is done. Or the days when I have enough self-discipline to shut myself away to study something difficult. On these days I don't necessarily think about useful things like what's for dinner. Yet that is my perceived role for much of the time - I'm the one who buys the ingredients, I'm the kitchen Hitler and without my say-so nothing will happen. How do I weigh that against the cerebral activity? Is a poem of greater value than a well-cooked meal?
And the answer, to me at least, is yes. Huh. Not much cop for a domestic goddess, eh? But I'm delighted at the moment because at last my new collection of 28 poems has come back from the printers. It's called "Who-me?" and costs £5. At the moment most of them are sitting in a box at my feet. I like just having them there. Next week some of them will be sold, as I have orders already. And I'll need to see about a review or two. Meanwhile, if anyone out there has experience of small poetry imprints who might be interesting to me in the future, I've had such a trying time over this collection that I'm looking for new routes. And there's the online vs paper debate - though my readers, I think, like a hard copy.
And now I feel I might go and read a book. I'm in the middle of Donna Tartt's "The Little Friend" - not exactly bedtime reading, but there you are. And there's a half-written fragment of a poem in my bedside drawer .....
(The title, for anyone interested, is from Shakespeare. No prize for completing the quotation - just a virtual pat on the back)