Posted by: Corri van de Stege | December 13, 2008

The Sunday Salon – crawling up to Christmas 2008

tssbadge42Yes definitely – that’s how it feels: crawling up to Christmas, ticking off the things that are done and the ones that need doing.  Why do we make life so stressful for ourselves?  There ought to be an easier way.

And yes, in fact, I’ve decided there is an easier way, one that does not pile up extra stress where it’s not needed.  I have resigned from the course, oh yes, the OU one, and feel hugely relieved.  I wondered for a while whether this course was doing any good.  I mean, good in the sense that I felt I was improving on my writing.  I decided it did not do that.  All this course did was impose a regime on me that felt hugely uncomfortable, one that focused on assessing me on something I was not actually prepared for, or  rather, did not want to engage with.  Why should I?  I want to write.  But I want to write because I enjoy writing, not because I need to conform to a certain structure, one that asks you to fill in the dots and the structures just so  (the endless, showing and telling, making people talk, laugh smiles just so….)  No, I decided I’ve had it and suddenly I feel like I can write again!   Isn’t that amazing?

For the last few months I have been struggling.  With writing, with my blog, with reading and writing about my reading.  All the time, in the back of head, there was the pressure to use my time ‘sensibly’, to do the next exercise, do it just so that it would conform to the demands of a creative writing course.  I have now decided I cannot  do it and don’t particularly want to do it.

So from now on, I’m simply going to enjoy the very limited spare time I have to read and write  again for the sake of just that: words, sentences, imagery, the way people say things, the way they look, behave, the way they write things.  And I’m going to read what I want to read and not feel pressurised. There’s too much pressure as it is.

Of course, I have not been able to  square this course with my day-job: all the research and writing I have to do anyway, which has nothing to do with ‘showing’ or ‘telling’ or where the balance should be!  Oh no, I write serious research reports.  And then, for the sheer enjoyment of it, I want to have the space and time to  indulge in my bog, my novel, my writing, and to interact with others who blog, read and write.  That’s it.


WinterwoodSo,  today in the Sunday Salon?  There’s lots of course, especially with Christmas coming up.  On the train to and back from London last week  I greatly enjoyed Patric McCabe’s Winterwood and I will spend some time writing the review – it’s quite a different approach to story telling from what I’ve been reading recently, but it was definitely worth it!

Then, of course, I’m busy trying to get my house in order, to make sure that sons, partners and granddaughter christmas-treeare going to have beds to sleep in,  comfortable environments, presents under the Christmas tree (oh my: just wrapping the present takes ages, let alone buying them;  but then, books and subscriptions are just wonderful, don’t you think?)  And later on this Sunday  I intend to enjoy Handel’s Messiah , I’ve bought the tickets, reserved the seats – hurray,  I don’t have to edit/finalise a play that I have lost all interest in! 

In the meantime?  Oh well, I’m beginning to pick up (mentally) the threads of my novel agan – that is really what I want to  write – not some exercise that pleases assessment criteria!

And then, there are the Sunday papers.  And of course,  there’s Oh’s challenge to me to compose my list of favourites for 2008.  Yes I’ll take that up – so will be working on that as well!  Promise!

Have you ever felt so hugely relieved when you’ve decided to give up on someting?





  1. Yes! There have been so many things I’ve signed up for or committed to, all in the name of improving my writing, but I’ve found that working on what I want to work on, when I want to work on it is really what I should be doing. I’ve felt the same self-imposed pressure to complete things and I’ve decided it’s counter-productive. Good for you!

  2. We feel the same way before Diwali. It becomes so hectic and stressful. So many things to do at the last minute.

    Here is my SS post

  3. I’ve taken OU courses but no the one you were doing and I know what you mean about conforming to a structure in writing and manitaining a balance – maybe it’s the same in all their courses. Anyway the relief to be able to write and read what you want in the way you want is enormous.

    I was also thinking about how long it takes to wrap presents and wondering how I’m going to get it all done in time and this year won’t be so hectic as usual because we’re going to our son’s for Christmas. Odd how I still feel stressed though. Your Christmas tree is beautiful.

  4. Lisa – you make me feel so much better! I feel hugely relieved anyway and it seems strange to think how the pressure must have affected my creativity!

  5. gautami: yes, humanity is very good at creating unnecessary stress where we should be enjoying ourselves 🙂

  6. Books Please: Yes, this OU course is a new one, but I am not too happy with the structure of it: it’s very technical (conforming to structures and lay-outs etc.) and I feel it is dumbing down as far as the creative process is concerned. But then, I am a busy person, so this may have created additional negative vibes!
    As far as the xmas tree is concerned: I nicked it from a website…. I wish! I have not even bought mine, let alone decorate it. Will leave it to the grand child I think 🙂

  7. Oh it definitely sounds like the right decision to withdraw from the course. Nothing worse than something that stifles the creative flow, especially when your time is so limited. I don’t know if you’re into working out of a book on creativity, but I found The Artist’s Way by Julia Cameron very helpful for unleashing creativity in supportive ways.

    Enjoy the season – sounds like you have some wonderful family plans.

  8. How wonderful! Congratulations… I knew something was in the air.
    It does feel so good to be able to make the decision to stop doing something that isn’t good for us. Such freedom we have as grownups!
    I am so happy for you. And you sound lighter, happier, full of the excitement of having your time back. Happy Holidays!

  9. Bravo! Such a huge relief to refind or redirect one’s path. I can imagine how good you feel. It’s wonderful. I do believe the secret to really good writing is freedom. Time, yes, but most of all freedom.

    Now you can enjoy Christmas, too! So you’re giving books and subscriptions? Such perfect gifts.

    As for the booklist, I have every intention of going through past blogs and noting favorites and can compile a list so absolutly no pressure there, either!

    Enjoy, enjoy, enjoy!

  10. Terri: Yes, absolutely – it’s been the right decision, no doubt about that. I’ll have a look at the Cameron book, although for the time being I feel quite happy without any instructions whatsoever though… lol

  11. qugrainne: yes, you’re so right: we do have freedomes as grown ups – what a lovely way to look at this! Thank you. And yes, I’m floating….

  12. Oh: Freedom from pressure is absolutely essentia, but I only found that out the hard way! What silly people we are sometimes, getting ourselves embroiled in freedom-less activities (i.e. stressful ones!).
    I’ll also be working on that book list, just for the fun of it, so it might not appear until well after xmas. You’re definitely better off compiling your own if you need one before xmas 🙂

  13. No, I’m NOT in a hurry. Also, I must be shopping for others, not me.
    So if you post a list after Christmas, all the better! I’ll have time to peruse and then do a little bookshopping for the new year! no hurry, no pressure. It will be worth waiting for.

  14. I’ve learned this lesson so many times, for I am one to take on much more than I should for the sheer desire to experience as much as possible. And yes, I have felt that enormous sense of relief when I’ve made the decision to let something go.

    You’ve done yourself a great favor, I’m sure, and given yourself a very good gift.

    Now enjoy your holiday!

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