Do It Scared – Things From The Pages Of My Notebook

I was struggling to think of what to write about today. I usually plan my blog post the night before, but last night, none of my ideas could hold their ground. (I always struggle with life on a Saturday night, knowing Sunday is mere hours away…Sunday and I have a bittersweet relationship.) It was the same this morning. My ideas were weak and unstable.

I tried not to panic, and went out for a run. During my run, I made up my mind to share with you some of the stuff I’ve put down in my notebook over the past several days. (Going on a run or a walk 99.9% of the time solves problems I’m having with my writing.)

Imagining that something I’m about to share with you might end up in your own notebook and lead you to places you never knew you may go, is the best tonic I can think of to help me through the most challenging of days.

Things From The Pages Of My Notebook

Do it scared. / I had a sample of the book Do It Scared by Ruth Soukup, and, while I couldn’t get into the book itself and decided not to buy it, those three little words stayed with me.

Research into Isobel Gowdie. / I was prompted to do this after reading Sharon Blackie’s book of stories about shapeshifting women, Foxfire, Wolfskin. There’s was a quote from Isobel Gowdie, A Scottish woman who confessed to witchcraft at Auldearn, near Nairn in 1662. She said: ‘When we go into hare-shape we say: I shall go into a hare, with sorrow and sigh and meickle care…’

Add Orion Magazine to your inspiration list. / I’m putting together a list of things that inspire the work I do and the life I lead. Orion Magazine – a publication focusing on nature, culture and place – is planted very firmly in that list. The work of one its former writers, the late, brilliant Barry Lopez, changed my life.

We are loosing touch with the moon. Each year she inches 3.78cm further into space. / I learned this reading Under The Stars by Matt Gaw, an exceptional book. I’m only half-way through and am already feeling sad about finishing it.

Even light can’t always be trusted when fear and an overactive mind take hold. / Another line from Under The Stars.

The black of night was the devil’s time to shape the earth. / Under The Stars. Again!

A time to go inside and batten the doors, for the night will soon stalk the world on shadowy limbs. When even the locals are said to avoid coming up here, across bog and mire, to the gloaming wood. / The last one from Under The Stars…yet I could go on with them. They’ve filled pages and pages of my notebook. That line ‘for the night will soon stalk the world on shadowy limbs.’ I think I re-read it at least ten times last night. The imagery it conjures…there will be a poem born from the inspiration I’ve found within this line, that I promise you. Also, of all the lines ever written, it’s the line I wish I could have thought of first.

If writing when things go wrong can help us, what happens if we write when things go right? / This came from a book I’m reading at the moment called Write Yourself Happy: The Art of Positive Journalling by Megan C Hayes. I’ve been avoiding my journal the past few weeks. Even thinking about writing in it has set me on edge. I’m not entirely sure why. I kept journals regularly for well over a decade. It might be because I feel I get more from writing in my notebook nowadays… But I know how good a journal can be in helping to maintain good mental health, so I’ve been looking for books which can guide me to journal writing from a different angle. And I found The Art of Positive Journalling. Another line I came across, ‘Whoever we are, journal writing can serve as a map of who we are becoming,’ was all the encouragement I needed to let my words grow in the pages of my journal.

A word after a word after a word is power. / Margaret Atwood. This is going on my wall.

It’ll be dark in the woods. Be careful. You could get lost. / Another one from Under The Stars. I know I said I was done, but this could inspire a poem, or a song, or a short story…I had to include it!

There’s something kind of magic about posting once a day. / Austin Kleon said this in a fantastic blog post he wrote about daily blogging. Definitely worth reading if blogging daily is something you’re looking to do…or even if you’re already doing it.

For those who don’t sleep. / This was a dedication at the beginning of a book…I didn’t write down which one, foolishly.

Write a poem about The Buffalo Jump. / I read about a historical hunting technique Native American Indians used called The Buffalo Jump, or the Bison Jump. They would have a young buy drape himself in a calf skin and run in front off the buffalo. They would follow him and he would lead them over the edge of a cliff. At the bottom of the cliff, hunters would be waiting with spears to kill the buffalo that hadn’t been killed by the fall. The boy in the calf skin wouldn’t be among the dead though (well, not if he was lucky). He would stake out a cranny in the cliff where he could hide in safety.

Write a poem about the Wisht Hounds. / For someone as besotted with black dogs as I am – you can check out a song I wrote about The Barghest if you like – I’m disappointed with myself that I haven’t, as yet, written a poem about the Wisht Hounds of Dartmoor. I hope to rectify that this week.

Also, before I go, you should get out this video. The power and speed of this polar bear is awe inspiring. I’ve watched it about thirty times.

What I Was Listening To While Putting Together This Post

3 thoughts on “Do It Scared – Things From The Pages Of My Notebook”

  1. I just tried to visualise how much farther we would be from the moon after a century, and even though it’s absolutely nothing in space terms, I’m still oddly saddened by it. Why is it leaving us? (Actually, I don’t blame it). Under the Stars sounds a fascinating book – definitely going on my list to investigate in future. So many things to explore in this post like Isobel Gowdie (have heard of but know little about) and Orion Magazine. That polar bear is amazing. I have had your Barghest song going round in my head, thank you. 🙂 You’ve reminded me that I have a book on black dogs (‘Black Dog Folklore’ by Mark Norman) which I picked up last year and really must get round to reading…

    1. I’m saddened by it too. I hope you decide to write a poem about how the moon moving away makes you feel. I’m going to try and get one down…I’m feeling very inspired by you and your line ‘why is it leaving us?’ And the line ‘Actually, I don’t blame it.’ Under The Stars is SO DAMN GOOD. I can’t praise it highly enough. I wasn’t expecting it to be as magnificent as it is, but really, it’s fucking magnificent. I’ve been meaning to get my hands on a copy of Black Dog Folklore! Thank you so much for listening to Barghest. I feel so proud! x

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