A shadow explodes through our garden. A shriek of feathers and noise; and I get a sense of what Robert Macfarlane must have been talking about in The Wild Places. The flaring shape is felt in the heart before the eye, too fast for the brain to make sense of, but an animal instinct makes me duck all the same. For all of the smaller creatures there are really only two defences against aerial predators: run or hide, and for our resident community of house sparrows here in our garden their only option now is to run. What follows is a short-lived but ferocious aerial chase, jet-fighter manoeuvres. Both the Sparrowhawk and the sparrows have short bodies and fatter, fan-like wings than say, the Buzzards or Kites. Neither can glide or gracefully soar like their bigger counterparts, because their wings are both designed for the jigsaw-sharp turns and narrow avenues of low-level terrain.
The exchange is all over in an instant, the sparrow escapes, the hawk vanishes. They call it a ‘flash of the eye’ but it feels more like the thudduduhr of heart-hammer, somehow pre-vision and instinctive. The sparrowhawk that has been piercing our tiny garden is gone, leaving the shattered remains of the small, ornamental paint-your-own bird-table on the floor, seed everywhere. It takes three wire pins and a modded piece of scrap wood to put the table back together again, and now it is hanging once more from it’s hook as if nothing had ever happened. The usually chattering sparrows are silent for a stall but return, wary, to the table. It is early summer, and I guess that neither sparrow nor hawk can afford to be gone long as both are flying ragged to feed hungry chicks.
Netflix announced today that they are going to re:boot Jim Henson’s Dark Crystal, and that got me thinking (unsurprisingly) about all of the different fantasy worlds that my life has travelled through. Not only Dark Crystal’s world of Thra of course, but Middle Earth, The Disc, The Six Duchies, Bas Lag, Earthsea; on and on…
Our heads are populated not just with the real, but a wealth of imaginal territories that we have visited. These territories sit peaceably beside each other, allowing barbarians and jedi-knights,or witches and wizards to all share prominant roles in our personal mythos. It’s an egalitarian thing, sort of a Community of All Worlds in our heads – kinda like the Federation but without all the moralising.
I can’t wait to get back to Thra, with all of those worries of someone returning to a foreign country: please don’t be different; but I wonder what new places I’m going to discover.
As I sit down to my desk I have a host of project-things scrabbling for attention. There’s the work-of-the-day (City of Kings, as well as a ghosting project, and another copywriting project) along with their associated emails, notes, and drafts that all need to be made. That kind of stuff doesn’t worry me [lie] because I know that I can order and allocate them all their correct places and times during the day [another lie]. Well, I mean by that is that I can crowbar them in and force them to co-exist. At least until my eyes melt with looking at LCD screens and being passively cooked by electromagnetic radiation all day. Lovely. Maybe one day I’ll get super powers…
Anyway; but then there’s the /other/ project-things. The Novel of Great Worth is still in draft form, the poor thing is in a shambles to be precise, but it is looking at me with those great doe-like eyes which means I have yet more attention to give it. Then there’s the anthology-thing, the story-game-thing, the future-is-weird thing, and all of the assembled ill-begot brood of story and article seeds which might not grow into anything other than a sentence bastardized into something else, or else might mulch and sprout into a new Novel of Even Greater Worth.
I’m quite seriously beginning to think that a writing life is really just time-management. Maybe it’s that 10,000 hours thing, or the 1 Million Words of Shite that Neil Gaiman and Iain Banks talk about (by the way, last week I totalled all of my ghosting work alone, and have recently passed the 2 million mark. I just have to hope that the first six zeroes weren’t all irredeemably bad…), either way beginning things, like this blog, is all about time-spent and hours clocked.