Wednesday 17 December: 7/10

Same as yesterday.

I know that character is, among other things, a function of how quickly one recovers from disappointment.  I wonder what the allowable time frame is for recovery?  If you don’t try new things you will never be disappointed although admittedly you may feel a lingering sense of disappointment with your lot; or not, depending on who you are.  If you do try new things you may be disappointed.  You may not like them, they may not like you, you may be good at it, you may fail at it.  Trying, in and of itself, then, must be an indication of character.  Recovery from set back is, thus, another. 

On the trying front I have surely got to get an 8/10 in the big cosmic billboard.  Within reason I do take a lot of personal risk.  Just right now, however, I feel a bit lame on the old recovery front but maybe that is because I am trying lots of new things all at once and so have a higher than habitual frequency rate of possible success or failure.  Maybe it is the time frame of the recovery that is the measure of character and if so, how long or short is the term?

All of this existential angst is to enable me to put my finger on the 7/10 yesterday when I closed my otherwise very nice (lunch with Camilla who is always great fun, interesting, helpful and empathetic given that she helped set up and run Rude Health and so knows what it is like to start a business) but not particularly productive day with a meeting at Penguin with Helen.  Now, Helen is a clever, personable young woman who is an editor at Penguin (she must be pretty senior because she is Stephen Green’s editor).  She and I were introduced by a mutual contact who thought that we had over lapping areas of interest and could be of use to each other.  That was kind of Sam and lovely for me to hear – it’s nice when people think I have something worthwhile to say or contribute to someone else, and if there is a chance of capitalising on that creativity, that’s great too.  I did not really know what the meeting was about, though, or what the objective was.  I have no idea how Helen was approaching the meeting but I got the sense that she was waiting for me to pitch a book.  Which I was not.  Which I may never do, given that I would rather put spoons in my eyes than sit at my desk and write for 8 hours a day which is what I assume you need to be able and willing to do if you are going to write a good book.  So….I felt, once I got there, like a total idiot, actually.  Yesssss, anticipating how I will feel in any given situation is not a skill I have managed to develop.  Because I am a glass half full, sunshiny, happy chappy of a person I generally just think everything will be fine – why not?  And maybe that is why I am brought low when it is not.  Like now. 

(Note to people with insomnia or jet lag:  Learn to bake.  That way you can do something productive while you are awake in the wee hours.)

Helen was kind, Helen was helpful, Helen was perfectly reasonable under the circumstances.  Helen gave me top tips on where to find an agent, what kind of book to write, and what to expect from agents and publishers.  Helen was even encouraging once she had got me to articulate what stood for and was trying to achieve.  However, I think she was also a bit mystified as regards why she was meeting me (yes, yes, that is her problem and her lesson, not mine) and why I did not have a book to pitch.  Clearly her expectation was that she was there to receive a book pitch of sorts and was doing it in person as a favour to Sam (indication of her (Helen’s) kindness).  So I feel like I wasted her time which, in turn, makes me feel stupid.  I also feel like I wasted my time. 

I am running a business.  That is what I am doing and I am good at it.  Professionally, at the moment, I am a baker, a writer, and a social entrepreneur.  Any writing that I do is part of building the business, it is not the business itself.  I need to run the business and I need to remind myself that I am good at it and that the business has received only support and success.  In the attempt to commercialise the creativity inherent in the business beyond the bread, it is tempting for me to define creativity too narrowly:  write a book, perform in a play, compose a symphony, make a movie, sing an aria.  The logic it this:  creativity is about making something and if I am not making something I am not being creative.  Isn’t it also, though, about coming up with the idea to have something made?  And isn’t building a business making something? will move the needle on the white sliced bread market by showing people how much nicer, more fun, more satisfying and more tasty bread is when it is not full of unnecessary ingredients, is made in a way that does not give you tummy ache, does not have the consistency of a sponge and does not come sliced in a plastic bag. will be part of creating a society that is full of people who are making different choices and whose choices lead them to be healthier, kinder to each other, and kinder to the planet. will change the world.  I could sit down for eight hours a day and write a book about this.  Alternatively, I could just get on and do it and, once it is done, I might have something to write about. 

Rabbit holes.  Stop falling down them.  Note to self.

3 thoughts on “Wednesday 17 December: 7/10”

  1. Hi Jane
    I just wanted to let you know that I read your musings and am now smiling a wry smile. I too have been thrown into a situation (where a friend thought it ‘might be good’ for me to meet another friend of theirs) where I felt a failure because I didn’t have a tangible agenda. Boy, does that make you feel like a loser in our target-driven world!

    I now cast my mind back to meeting you at the Resurgence conference. Did I want to meet you to ‘achieve’ something? No, not really. I heard about what you were doing, I sat behind you in the audience and admired your red boots(!!) and I thought ‘there’s a lady who I’d like to meet’. I think I’m beginning to gain a little confidence that sometimes it is okay to just ‘meet’ someone and for your lives to connect briefly for a purpose that we may not even see. Doesn’t that tie in somehow with what Satish was saying about moving away from the idea of ‘What can I get out of this?’ to a more reverent attitude to the wonderfulness of people and nature?

    My own recent ‘pointless meeting’ made me feel bad because a very busy man who writes books and runs a commune and has a newspaper column and three young children took time out to meet me to talk about community. But I think he, too was baffled as to what exactly I ‘wanted’ I think he’s so used to having people come at him with demands and agendas and ‘wants’ that he expects it. perhaps it’s worse when you’re a bit famous?! I felt terrible afterwards (not least because I had made a three day journey in order to meet him) because I thought he must have felt that I was a bit wet and a bit of a time-waster. Only afterwards did I think that the meeting was very, very helpful for me because seeing what he is doing, and talking to him about it, helped me to formulate much more clearly what I want to do. (Or, where his project is concerned, what I don’t want to do -which is just as important in shaping a vision, isn’t it?)

    So, your post makes me smile because I’m relieved to hear that I’m not the only person who has these experiences. Sounds like you got a lot out of it in the end!!

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