Mumblings and Musings #1
Bits and pieces that have held my attention recently.
I’m aware I’ve been AWOL, but it has been necessary. I needed to let this newsletter lie fallow for a while whilst I focussed on other things - namely my therapist training, which really ramped up over the last few months as we neared the end (just one more lesson to go!), along with my day job and my wellbeing. I just simply wasn’t feeling inspired to write this newsletter, and I don’t want to ever put out content here because I feel I have to, not because I want to. I think that does both you and me a disservice.
So now it’s definitely the perfect time to debut my Mumblings and Musings round-ups, where I’ll be dumping all the useless info I’ve collected - otherwise known as curating lists of the things that have captured and held my attention in recent times. These will be articles, books, quotes, thoughts, people - anything and everything that has piqued my interest on topics from writing to wellness to science and philosophy. You can bet all the random interesting facts I learn in a month or two will appear here.
So on that note, here is a list of all the things that have nourished or excited me whilst I’ve been absent:
Words on writing
The idea that writing, especially writing a novel, is like cars and light and darkness:
‘Writing a novel is like driving a car at night. You can only see as far as your headlights, but you can make the whole trip that way.’
- E.L. Doctorow, quoted in Anne Lamott’s Bird by Bird
‘Putting together a novel is essentially putting together the lives of strangers I’m coming to know. In some ways it’s not unlike putting together my own life. I think I know what I’m doing when in truth I have no idea. I just keep moving forward. By the time the book is written, there’s little evidence of the initial spark or a long-ago conversation in California Pizza Kitchen. Still, I’m able, for a while at least, to pick up the thread and walk it back. Everything looks so logical going backwards - Yes, of course, that’s what we did - but going forward it’s something else entirely. Going forward, the lights may as well be off.’
- Ann Patchett, These Precious Days
‘It’s a bit like driving at night in the countryside without any street lights at all, and you have those cat’s eyes illuminating the road, and you don’t know where the turns in the road are until you’re actually there, until right at the last minute, when your headlights are illuminating where you need to go. And writing a novel’s like that - you can’t do it unless you’re in it. You can’t think about it in the abstract. You’ve got to be in it, you’ve got to get your hands dirty - you’ve got to be right there inside the work in order to make it work.’
- Maggie O’Farrell on the In Writing with Hattie Crisell podcast
‘Let your story determine how it needs to be told. Which leads you to the really fun part, where you get to see what this perspective choice can do for you. You’ve already stolen the car, and now you get to see how fast it goes.’
- Alix E. Harrow for The Novelry
Words on wellness
The brain makes emotions to keep us safe, create context and connection, and to help us manage our body. It uses our experiences to do this:
‘We now know that our brain is an active participant in building our emotions, using its understanding of data to create emotions. Our brain creates emotions by using its past knowledge of the world to combine our internal data (body sensations) with the external data (context) to give them meaning and guide our actions.’
- Dr Emma Hepburn, A Toolkit for your Emotions
Change is necessary:
‘To be what one is, is to enter fully into being a process. It is only as [a client] can become more of himself, can be more of what he has denied in himself, that there is any prospect of change.’
- Carl Rogers, On Becoming a Person
Learning to take a little responsibility for your own life, especially in the face of the world’s problems:
‘If you think seriously about the good life and pursue it, you will probably fail in ways large and small. But an imperfect struggle to live well and love a world badly in need of repair is better than staying still because things are terrible, because you might look like a loser in the meritocratic game, because it’s easier.
‘This is your life. You do not have time to wait for the revolution to begin living it. You will always be able to find someone to give you permission not to live it. But no one is coming along to live it for you.’
- Failure to Cope “Under Capitalism”, Claire Coffey for gawker
Devoured and pondered
The audiobook of The Return: Fathers, Sons, and the Land in Between by Hisham Matar. Movingly read by the author, it recounts his search for his father, who was kidnapped by Gaddafi’s regime in Libya.
A note I made on my phone, half asleep: ‘Thinking about attending to my own life, my own garden. Working on my things. I cannot attend to the entire world. The only way I can even come close to that is in writing about it. But I am me in my unique space and I should nurture it.’
A Day of Fallen Night by Samantha Shannon.
The Nike Training Club app (and their workouts on Netflix) for free at-home workouts.
Sidemen Sundays and any time they play Among Us. I’ve been an unashamed Sidemen fan courtesy of Mark for a good nine years now. Pure, easy entertainment. About four braincells between them (said with love).
The universe at Kielder observatory (and their brilliant explanation that stars are just element factories):
the mumble and muse. is a Substack newsletter from therapist in training and hopeless writer, Caitlin Evans. You can subscribe for free.