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03.03.2021 - Perpetual Motion

I think:

I am my to-do lists. I am the notepad and pen that sit by my right hand while I am trying to write. (TITLE: DISTRACTIONS.) I try to empty my mind as I go and focus on the task. I am the endless sifting through blogs, essays, short stories; published works by others I fight the urge to mine for a voice.

Halfway through a yoga session with Adriene I wonder whether practising mindfulness would make me a better writer. There is something in the back of my brain that tells me I don’t yet know enough about the things I am doing/making/thinking-about to be doing making thinking about them. I knit a sweater vest and the neck comes out extremely wonky but ultimately fine. I write three shorts with fifteen tabs from No Film School blinking in my browser.

I am perpetual motion. Learn french start a library crochet a blanket make clothes a dress an apron a shirt a tracksuit write films redraft them practise your german plot a novel make a zine make another zine write a blog yes this one but also another one more another one read those books you bought and the ones you already have do your work the work for your job the job that pays you and practise the guitar.

I’ve killed two plants so far in the pandemic. I spend 98% of my time less than two metres from my plants.

Everything is so loud.

For my birthday, a friend and I walk 15km around Bristol. She is Greg Davies. The Taskmaster. I write a rap about my workplace, carry an egg yolk in my pocket for six hours, nearly choke to death on marshmallows trying to recite the Lord’s Prayer on the inter-city cycle path. I am outdoors, in my body, walking.

For hers, ten days later, the loop is 23km. We find a pseudo-totem pole in the woods with her birth year carved into it, take it in turns to do covert wild wees, use a man dressed in Full Camo like a Magic Eye puzzle, tracking his descent down a forest path.

If I don’t write things down, I immediately forget them. Before me, the rest of my life stretches and foreshortens simultaneously.

I lose three hours explaining cissexism to a man on Twitter who does not care. At my desk, my heartbeat leaps to 95bpm.


17:53:34 Eli: think i need to go cold turkey on social media for a while
17:53:48 Eli: would one of you guys be up for changing my passwords for me so i cant get in? lol
17:54:00 Maisie: Yep
17:54:03 Maisie: Gimme gimme


20:12:20 Maisie: Done
20:12:23 Maisie: Log out xx


20:15:31 Eli: cant wait to become horribly self aware

84.6 miles away, my dad gets his letter inviting him for the vaccine. He’s hoping we’ll make it to a festival this year.

a person sits by a lake, surrounded by winter trees


(what I’m reading:

gideon the ninth — tamsyn muir
pride and prejudice — jane austen
underland — robert macfarlane

earthsea cycle — ursula le guin

and I’m on GoodReads, if it’s of interest)

16.01.2021 - Tasting Words, Anew

I recently finished reading Eley Williams’ novel ‘The Liar’s Dictionary’. A borrowed copy, thrust into my hands by a friend on their return to the living room.

“Read this. Underline the bits you like, I’ve done it too.”

And my crumbly HB chases her un-erasable red colouring pencil across quick turns of phrase, meandering etymological contemplations; draws chunky emphases under the jokes I like, pleasing clumps of assonant sounds.


choreographed floppage


brain-crimping silence
 — p. 147

Every now and then, there is a cluster; four lines in a row enclosed by giant red parentheses. Or by a procession of underlines. This bit, it demands, what do you think of this bit? BECAUSE I THOUGHT IT WAS BRILLIANT.

AAAH! I often agree in the margin.

Or !!

Or ♥

(The most ardently attended-to paragraphs are the ones about gay longing, romantic agony, about the feeling of pulling your guts out through your mouth to try and tell someone how you feel.


She tapped a pen to a Styrofoam cup in her hand and I lost four years off my life.
— p. 118  

The definition of love (v.) drives us both, briefly, mad. But we’re in a pandemic, and haven’t touched another person in ten months, so. Shrug!)

I read

He never realised that he needed to believe a moth could shout in rage,
p. 177

and I love this book.

It cleanses the taste of stale nothing from my tongue. Wipes away a year of frustrated chalkdust, flittering iPhone notes that read play idea, something about power / adhd symptoms? / Espresso Black Americano Tea soya milk Cheesy pasty or something for Tom / to ask everyoneDEMAND: why is this important? / ça serait mieux, billet, il = y.


Look, the book says. Look how much joy there is to be found in holding words you like in the palm of your hand. Feeling their weight, turning them over. Look at how much fun you can have! There are lives in these pages that are built on games.

Herein is woven a Full On Love Story that feels so meaningful in its groundedness that two of you, sat on separate beds in separate houses (though really, only a fifteen minute walk apart) nearly snapped a lead in your determination to commit it to memory. Look at how the corner of your mouth lifts as you read. This book has scrawled words on the inside of your brain.

And in my room, I roll words around in my mouth. Whisper passages to myself in the sun-white glow of a SAD lamp.

I risk an anxious toppling into the Omnipresent Nihilism hunched in my subconscious and let my mind wander. Just for a moment. Shove up the paintmarked sash window and breathe in the smell of wet leaves and city-stink.

An empty crosscountry train thunders past.

Hmm, I think, staring into the middle distance. Trees are weird, aren’t they.

Arboreal. Naturally un-topiaric.

Ecosia, give me “words about trees”.

banyan maple ash sapling species hazel branch pine tree trees holly taiga inga casuarina puka dipterocarp lumber souari devilwood poon cockspur palm tree ribbonwood seedling

and yet yet yet yet yet yet
—  p. 185 

(At some point in the reading she switches from red to orange. And I, having lost my mechanical pencil, begin using a terrible waxy purple.)

A photo of a page spread of The Liar's Dictionary. Many words and phrases are underlined, by two different readers.


(what I’m reading, on walks round the park as if I think I’m a Quirky Lead in an indie movie:

a little life — hanya yanagihara
pride and prejudice — jane austen
underland — robert macfarlane

earthsea cycle — ursula le guin

and I’m on GoodReads, if it’s of interest)


between sleeps,

the magic hush of a city after snow
and the warm orange
coiled steam
of living room, angled lamp
finger poised in the crease of a spine

the flushed pink cheeks of “it’s good, isn’t it? you like it?”

lips, soft
pressed quickly against a forehead in passing,
fingertips brushing back strands

rings, cold from the wind
balanced on a seam and glinting in the sunlight

and a handful of smells, warm from the oven

alt text: a grainy photo of a misty view from a window. you can just make out some leafless trees and a far-off block of flats.


(what I’m reading, when I can summon the attention span:

a little life — hanya yanagihara
revolting prostitutes: the fight for sex workers’ rights  — juno mac & molly smith
underland — robert macfarlane

earthsea cycle — ursula le guin

I’m on GoodReads, if it’s of interest)


I’ve been thinking about how much I’ve always figured myself as The Kind of Person Who Reads A Lot Of Books.

I’m trying to work out when exactly I stopped actually being that, and instead became someone who Looks at a lot of books, Recommends a lot of books, Buys a lot of books, THINKS ABOUT BOOKS SO MUCH, but who lacks the mental strength to sit and crack a single spine. was it in 2009 when I got Twitter to tweet @ the members of My Chemical Romance 98 times a day? 

well??? what did adult bassist Michael Way think of the depiction of the Romulans in Star Trek??? (and do you think he thought it was cool that I, a worldly fourteen-year-old, signed my tweets with a single initial?)

It seems like a cop-out to attribute my own decimated attention span to one social media platform. Let’s not forget Bebo, Myspace, Facebook, Tumblr and Instagram: it’s really been a team effort. As I write this, I’ve just posted a video of some potato pancakes sizzling away on my Instagram, and I’ve looked at it about sixteen times in less than five minutes. Cool! 

None of this is to say I don’t read, I just don’t have very much to show for it on my GoodReads account at the moment, and I recently had to admit to myself that I basically didn’t read any of my degree’s set texts properly (because I was too busy dedicating myself to Improv Comedy and Having Depression). Nevertheless, I’ve continued to build a huge amount of my personality around something that hasn’t been properly true since about 2012. 

If there’s one thing that seems like it must, surely, be achievable during a lockdown, it’s reading more books. People seem to be reading more books. I’m certainly buying more books.

So I’m getting back into reading. And not just in a ‘getting back into fanfiction during the pandemic’ way (if you want any recs for novel-length reimaginings of what might have happened if Voldemort had won the Second Wizarding War... please don’t ask me because it’ll be too embarrassing for both of us) (but I can recommend a great one, it’s 300,000+ words and counting). No, I’m getting back into books. If only so I can post it on GoodReads, but hopefully to also revive my ailing intellect. 

kicking off with:
sour heart — jenny zhang
revolting prostitutes: the fight for sex workers’ rights  — juno mac & molly smith
the liar’s dictionary — eley williams
underland — robert macfarlane

(and, because I’m learning french) 
harry potter à l’école des sorciers — anonymous [the proof of this book was found washed up on the shore of a desert island by a 9-year-old daniel radcliffe in the late ‘90s. the author was never found or named, and if they turned out to be a cruel, awful TERF, we certainly never heard about it. fuck JKR.] 

I wonder if trying to read five books at the same time is exactly the kind of frantic see-sawing that got me in this mess in the first place.

Who knows.

I’ll leave you with some more tweets which, if nothing else, paint a fascinating portrait of what life was like in early 2009 for a teenager in Reading. 

some context: I was at a three-day residential for young musicians at the local army garrison. it was arranged either by my school or by the local music authority and, in hindsight, was definitely a military recruitment scheme. since I had arrived and realised the only thing I could play (the classical guitar) was not an instrument used in the musical corps, I had panickedly lied and said I also played percussion.

at the end of the three days we had a barbecue and played a football match in which a fat bloke from the corps kept goal whilst holding a pint and smoking a fag (very cool, almost swung it for me re: enlisting) and I accelerated so fast when I finally got the ball that I slipped over and pissed myself.

a soldier called charlotte gave All The Girls her ‘one piece of advice’, which was to cry on day one of basic training or the men’d keep trying to get you to crack and it’d only get worse; feels like there’s probably a desperately sad life lesson in there somewhere.

but then there’s also this:

simpler times.

needless to say, none of the tweets I’ve shared received any likes.

© elinor lower