Quest2016 Penetrating Deeper.

The Self Searching Odyssey.

Debbie Millman’s Prompt on 5th December.

Your Quest2016 Prompt today:

How would you do business as unusual in 2016 if you knew – no matter what you chose – you would not fail?

Superficially this seemed easier but in attempting to answer it I recognised it might have eliminated my answer to Prompt No 2. Would I spend a year cozying up to Shakespeare by writing a play that might help me to understand his genius? That now seems entirely selfish. And safe.


What today’s prompt elicited was the full confession ( to myself) of my terror in joining a group. #Quest2016 has been the first toe in the group waters. I tasted my fear of other people. I identified its roots in a lifetime of rejection from my father ( before I was two) and ever since, culminating in my daughters, now adult. I am terrified of other people. I have sheltered behind solitude, and having powerful ideas. Ideas rejected equally ( which made them precious friends, we suffered together!). Only ideas have kept me going; writing them has filled my years, reading them has comforted me. The very few who celebrated them are my only friends. I know no others.

Suddenly I feel stripped naked, and very vulnerable. (Old women naked probably all do!) I suspect that I need to discover whether that life might have been different, if I had been available to be liked, instead of retreating behind what I created. I know a fair bit about love; love of music, love of language, love of understanding, nothing about liked. Just ordinary liking. I once knew how to laugh. I have forgotten how to do that. So I get there by starting to like myself? Then see if anyone else shares that? It might show me a whole new world, and since I am assured it cannot fail it seems even better than Shakespeare.

Philippa at46

KILL OR CURE? Selling Your Heart.

This Monday morning I received this link from a blog I follow (Christian Mihai) which confirmed what the weekend just passed had demanded. It is Scott Fitzgerald’s response to a script he had been sent and every aspiring writer should frame and hang it on a wall, and bow to it daily.

My ‘kill or cure’ weekend had hooked my agreement to talk (! Oh God… Talk?) to two groups, one wanting (I thought) breezy entertainment, tailored to the clock for fifteen minutes which would tell a story ( Where does mine begin or end?!) and the other to a deep-time exploring group of close friends that had never included me, for whom I was slotted in after tea which might give me time to drive from Hertfordshire to some ancient Manor near Oxford.

For weeks I had been in a spiraling panic but knowing that if I chickened out, I would never face the world again.Yet since writing ‘THE book’ I had lost all orientation and hardly knew which way was North. Sequencing and retention both evaporated, how to shape a narrative? For the first, (the 5×15 launch of the Fireside Festival) I realised I had to grasp the scorpion, and simply run with a two part story that has part been told in this blog before…The Bride and the Philosopher...and its sequel not yet recounted…The Plumber Peddling Resurrection” in which the deepest trauma underlying the book’s hand upon my collar for the whole of life rested. It involved sex, marital infidelity and the suspension of all disbelief about roughly everything…but the audience came wuth…as they say in my home; Sou’Thefrica.

In the event the story gripped, and overtime was universally demanded to ‘finish the story’.I will probably never be invited back to 5×15 (they do have a few rules and why shouldn’t they ?) but for me the heart I offered was returned unscathed and fuller than before. People trusted are usually trustworthy. I was in danger of forgetting that.

The second talk was much more of deeper and more harrowing truths I myself had not re-visited for years, until faced with this eager and attentive audience. The script prepared was discarded and I simply spoke of what I needed to say. Not to them but to myself. If you are a writer there is no place to hide. Until yesterday I had hidden behind a book.

What happened? When I have absorbed what happened I will return to tell you. Right now it feels like fearlessness, sobriety, calmness and a whole new landscape that rests in trust. Most critically I now know I can do it again, with greater discernment, ease, humour and enjoyment. That’s quite enough to be getting on with, it feels worth sharing.