Tuesday 19 June 2007

Positive Thinking and Cosmic Eeyores

I’m driving myself absolutely potty. I’m still waiting to hear back from Hodder and Stoughton about the first draft of Michele’s book (the psychic memoir). I can’t crack on with it until I hear back and I have kept this time free in order to do the work. It’s beyond irritating as – given we are about to move – I had planned on having this project done and dusted by the end of June. Now it will get all snarled up in the move and I am in a totally foul mood about the whole thing.
What is even worse is that, far from thinking ‘whoopee, spare time’ I am sitting morosely at my computer achieving precisely nothing. I am not good at having spare time. My school, the esteemed Nonsuch High School for Girls (very pushy grammar school in Cheam, Surrey) instilled the puritan work ethic in me to such a point that I feel incredibly guilty if I am not sitting at my desk, working hard for at least eight hours a day. My friend Jane says exactly the same – she is possibly the most driven person I know, regularly working until 2am. In fact she’s coming down on Friday for a ‘farewell to Lee Farm’ weekend. We’ve been here nine years and she’s been down maybe half a dozen times. Too busy. Our headmistress would be proud of us.

So I could be cleaning the spare room for Jane. I could, let’s be honest, be cleaning full-stop. Despite the fact that our buyers have been such total phits I cannot somehow bring myself to leave the place in a total mess. But ‘taking time off’ to clean seems decadent. See what a weirdo I am? So, instead, I sit at my computer as if by dint of dogged loyalty to the screen, I can make something happen.

(pause – half an hour later).. And by heck it works! The phone rang and it was Michele saying that she’d had a message from the editor saying it was absolutely fabulous and required very little extra work… Which is fabulous BUT (you heard that coming) I just wish the flipping editor would tell ME…and would also tell me what the ‘very little extra work’ is…so I can crack on and do it. Grrrrr, grrr and triple grrrrrr.

My conversation with Michele was funny – as our conversations always are. She is relentlessly upbeat, a total positive freak, committed believer in Cosmic Ordering and creating your own reality. I’m far more doomy and gloomy, a Cosmic Eeyore.
‘It’s going to be amazing! It’s going to be HUGE.’
‘Yeah, maybe. But it depends on how they market it.’
‘It’s going to change our lives.’
‘I’ve thought that before about books….I was going to be a brand once…’ This said in a very depressed tone. An editor at HarperCollins once got it in her head I was going to be the next Martha Stewart (a sort of cross between Delia and Kirsty Allsop but with a spiritual edge – yes, it’s a strange concept which is perhaps why it never came off). At the time I was very sniffy about the whole thing – thinking it would be prostituting my integrity to have my name on a candle. Fool! Anyhow, the branding was quietly dropped and, with every book I put out, I become more and more cynical as I watch them drop with a quiet little splash into the seventh circle of remaindered hell.

I wasn’t always like this. Once I was as relentlessly positive as Michele. In my twenties I spent hours upon hours and several trees-worth of paper, writing that ‘I, Jane, love and approve of myself’ and ‘It is safe, fun and exciting for me, Jane, to be totally successful.’ For a while they worked really well – the work poured in, so did the money. I was on TV and working for a national. Life was good. I think it all fell apart when I tried the biggie (for me): ‘I, Jane, now choose to be slim and gorgeous.’ I piled on another stone. It was as if my consciousness, higher being, whatever, suddenly took a reality check and said, ‘No sireee.’

So, while I still think it’s great to be upbeat, fabulous to see the positive, I tend to deal in shades of grey nowadays, rather than stark contrast black and white. Life isn’t always easy and I do think that, if you commit yourself hook, line and sinker to the Positive At All Costs movement, then you condemn yourself to feeling a failure when it doesn’t pan out quite how you thought. Also (and maybe this is my puritan school upbringing coming out again) I still can’t help but think that a little bit of the dark, the tough, the hard, doesn’t do one any harm and can even do a lot of good. Look at Paris Hilton (well, I’d rather not, but you know what I mean). Poor little rich girl. Never wanted for anything. Ended up being thrown in jail and kicked her heels when they wouldn’t let her take in her own bed. Now, of course, she says she has found God and is a reformed character. Oh, and she’s going to do a rap record based on her prison experiences. Have to say, it’s quite impressive really. Talk about seeing the positive in everything. Actually the more I think about it, the more you have to confess that this cloud really did have a silver lining. Brand Paris….you watch, there will be a jail range soon. Maybe there is something in this positive thinking after all.
‘I, Jane……’

PS the pic at the top is one taken about twelve years ago, after a draconian diet and a lot of make-up. I have used it relentlessly for all publicity shots ever since and will do so until I am about ninety. This one on the right of the mad woman waving an umbrella menacingly is what nine years on Exmoor does to a woman!!


Milla said...

Very funny, Eeyore dear, and FAB photo, which must be used and abused forever. Very glam indeed. With all the sneezing I'm doing (NOT glam) I'm starting to see the point of housework. OK, 85 walls being knocked down doesn't help. Have a great time with your Jane - it must be odd having a friend with the same name.

Sally Townsend said...

Terrific Jane, I'm in exactly the same pose today too, over the computer rather than that terribly glam b/w shot !!

Anonymous said...

Yes, great photo, very 'film star' looking. I sit staring at my pc screen far too long. I often wonder if my eyes might change shape at some stage.

Bluestocking Mum said...

That is a very glam picture!!

I will crawl back under the PC now-I look far more like your 2nd shot!!

warm wishes

toady said...

You can't be upbeat all the time BUT just watch it, too much grey can lead to bla ck. Oh that doesnt' sound very cheering but you know what I mean. I wish I'd had a posh photo taken when I was young and gorgeous. It would take about 20 airbrushes now. Chin up. Toady

countrymousie said...

Fab picture - use it until the day you die - you do so look like a mini version of Sophie Gregson - in fact when I started blogging I thought you were she!

Suffolkmum said...

I recognise that picture from your books! Agree that you look very like Sophie Grigson in it. Hey, I read your books!!! You made some really interesting comments that I can relate to - me and positive thinking skip merrily hand in hand for a while, then some great sodding disaster lands on me and I'm back to my usual pessimism! I didn't realise who your psychic was until just now. I had a GREAT reading from her once, at my work Christmas party of all places. I am quite sceptical about a lot of clairvoyants, and was certainly not expecting much from a 5 minute session at a corporate bash. It was real hair on the back on the neck stuff though, and some of the things she told me about my boy (K wasn't born then, though she correctly predicted the month when my second child would be born) was uncanny.

Elizabethd said...

I've always thought that shots of authors are so attractive, now I know the truth. They were all taken at their peak!
you look great!

Zoë said...

Which ever way you look at it Jane, you are beautiful :o) Thank you for the kind words you left for me, I think you see me too, so yep, understand where you are coming from. You may have twigged who Roman the Wizard was ... may have called him Stan the Man in email, not sure. Get those piants out girl. xx

Fennie said...

The trouble with this positive thinking malarkey is that it is all very well up to a point. But you have to be single minded - which I can never be. Positive is always in at least two different directions at once. And which to choose depends on whether I'm up or down. But I agree with the others about the photo. I can be really positive about that.

Faith said...

I was quite keen on cosmic ordering for a time. I mostly get what I cosmic order, but my wants are small!

Your photo reminds me of the Christine Keeler pose - maybe you could recreate it for our calendar?!

Chris Stovell said...

Cosmic ordering? Pah! I have a little note under my pillow for bloody months now and I STILL HAVEN'T HEARD! Lovely photo by the way.

CAMILLA said...

Darling Girl, look at you, how Glam is that! My son has a new partner who works for Hodder & Stoughton, funny if it was the same woman or even Editor. My son is a Scorpio, the ones that are deeply secret about everything, so I do not know too much about her at the moment, only that she works there. Wonderful Jane, that at least you have finally cracked it with the book, so pleased for you.

Pondside said...

Very glamorous photo Jane - go on using it forever!!...although I prefer the spirit in the blurry umbrella-brandishing photo.
I hope everything goes well with the book. In the meantime I hope that you are able to enjoy your here and now - you are a wonderful writer; you inspire and galvanize others (look at the thoughtful writing you have provoked with your questions); you really are gorgeous (I'm hoping for a red-haired grandchild!); it sounds as though you and Aiden enjoy family life and your sweet James - you have it all and 'branding' or renown as an auther is icing on the cake.
Once more, I'll step off my soap box.

Pipany said...

Wow, fab cheekbones Jane. I can see the Sophie Grigson connection too (she's such a sweetie). Beginning to wonder if there is more to the Capricorn thing than I thought - guilt, work-ethic, not allowed to enjoy time off, etc. As for positive thinking, I used to be the queen of it. Too bloody tiring when you have to keep working at it and you feel crap. Oh, that's so negative and I am actually feeling quite upbeat at the moment (though of course I shall pay for feeling that way!!!!) xxx

Jaynebeth said...

It's a great photo and similarly I too would exploit it for a very long time.

But - is it my imagination or does it make your hands look out of proportion? or do you just have large hands?

Saying that it's still a great photo!

Kitty said...

OH my dog, great photo. I'm glad you put brolly on the last one as I was suspicious it was a gun. Well, you do live in the country.

Martha Stewart eh? She's my hero. In fact heroine, I always feel a bit high after a Martha mag session. And the books are my crack cocaine. I debated buying a signed photo on ebay (I know, I know, fake) but that's a sad step too far even for me.

Glad to hear they like the book. Well done!

Grouse said...

I must dig out some of my old air crew photos and use those for the next 20 years- fantastic idea!

Iota said...

Yup, great photo, but did you say it was for a book? I thought it was for a 007 film audition.

Frances said...

Hello Jane,

I like both pictures, and all the others that you have shared with us. Just you wait until I get that camera and share some back at you. Enjoy the peace.

Positive thinking. A lovely concept, and one that is best delivered gently, with discretion. If I hear my immediate superior at the job say something about the "glass half full" one more time, I may not be held responsible for my actions. And this on the day that I return from seeing and hearing a thing at the heart of New York's criminal court system.
I say, just keep on with your packing and thinking about what a great new home you are about to create.

DevonLife said...

Fab pics - yes both of them. I always look at the pic of Fay Maschler in the Standard and wonder in what era it was taken. Elizabethan, Tudor?

Can't see the Sophie Grigson connection, you are much more attractive. She always looks a little doughy to me - as if you could twist of a little piece of her squidgy little face and dunk it in olive oil. Delicious.

Name on a candle!? Why the hell not? You could have had washing up liquid, even juicers?! It's never too late Jane. Have always said the UK needs a homegrown Martha, Anthea Turner's attempt doesn't quite cut it.

bodran... said...

I was going to say i didnt notice you had one hand bigger than the other is it for holding a big glass? and can i get one???Lol
But what a fab photo, i'd love a professional one done before i'm beyond help xxx

bodran... said...

I was going to add you could do a calender pose like that but Not on that chair!

annakarenin said...

I still prefer the photo of you and asbo. Is that a publicity shot? I ahve often wondered about it.

Your reasons to stay list almost had me in tears as you were describing my dream house but I suppose that it is the problem with dreams becoming reality they don't always live up to the expectation and the driving everywhere is a complaint of mny a parent living in such circumstances.

Hubs is a gloomy as he says it is much better that way as you are never dissapointed. I tend towards optimism much as I strain against it.