Epic fail


This week Schmutter accused me of being weak-willed. Luckily he was far away or I would have been tempted to murder him.

He sent me the following (edited) email:

Just read your story about the Hugh Grant party. Very funny. Have to admit I didn’t read the other bits.

I’m reading ‘Willpower’ by Roy Baumeister. A passage made me think of you:

‘The clear implication was that the best advice for young writers and aspiring professors is:  Write every day. Use your self-control to form a daily habit, and you’ll produce more with less effort in the long run.’

I know self-control and willpower are a breeze for you, but if you happen to be interested in the subject anyway, this is an interesting read.

How could he impugn my self-control and will-power I fumed, eating a chocolate eclair (not strictly on my prescribed list of healthy foods)? What an idiot, I thought, at the same time enjoying the warm glow of his compliment. (Did I mention he’s a genius with superb judgement?)

Sadly for me Schmutter is not the only critic in my life. This week an entire poetic form jeered at me.

We are ‘doing’ formal poetry with the fabulous Jenny Lewis (google her, she’s worth it). She asked us each to write an epic poem of our lives using Anglo-Saxon rhyme heads and caesuras (alliteration and breaks in the middle of the line, respectively)

Don’t tell anyone but I do think my life has been epic. It’s been an epic effort, anyway, trying to get from A to some character in an alphabet I still can’t really decipher. I feel, in short, that I’ve come quite a long way.

The trouble is, none of the traveling lends itself to epic.

Epics, if you ask me, are about man (and it is usually a man) tangling with the exterior (eg Beowulf). They aren’t about people sorting out, or not sorting out, their hang-ups.

The harder I tried, the more tangled up I became. (Thinking about it now, I should obviously have gone for metaphor, but I didn’t think of that then.)

The more entangled I became, the more I began to believe this was a misogynist plot. Most women are barred from starring in epic poetry, ran my reasoning, because our stage is often so much more private and interior. Our monsters live in the caves of our minds, not in the Danish swamps. Mine defeated my attempts to make them swashbuckling, or even interesting.

I’ll spare you my epic fail but suffice to say it’s hard to make close inspection of one’s nether regions, however valuable for the individual, into anything anyone would want to read, let alone into an epic.

The truly annoying thing is that I’ve been reading another book called Happier by Tal Ben-Shahar (it came free with the Guardian newspaper) which makes the exact same point about habits. Two minutes reflection, or less, tells you that habits must be a fabulous resource for anyone trying to do anything. How hard is it to stop bad habits? That’s how powerful good habits must be.

So, Schmutter, I knew that habit thing already, yeah?

Must stop here. I’m off to get into the habit of being nice to good friends.

Schmutter? Schmutter? Did I mention that I LOVE your new car?

See? It’s working already.

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Posted in Writing
15 comments on “Epic fail
  1. AKMamma says:

    I just wanted you to know how glad I am to have you in my Tribe! I love being able to read it as it comes down the pipe! And then I get it sent to my email to have me read it out loud to Geoff when he gets home. This was grand! Thanks again!

  2. I wish I knew Schmutter now 🙂

    Cathy – once again your writing mind enthuses me, fills my thoughts with debate and makes me contemplate discipline as a key to happiness. Then I look at Kipling and I know I must walk the pooch as well. I can fill up this life with practice and hope the writing follows.

  3. I think we often forget that it is harder to conquer our nether regions then that which lies above. This is because one is very obvious and the other is not…. Heroes and heroines are precisely those who choose the harder path. Have good cheer. You’re in there with the best of them.

  4. Amanda says:

    Epic nether regions? Yikes. The thought terrifies me. Short and sweet nethers perhaps. Epic depiction is inadvisable for mine. I’ll be leaving that to Pasternak and Marquez. You, however, with your unique outlook on life and your literary hocuspocus, are an epic-in-waiting, my dear.

  5. Cathy Dreyer says:

    Given the title of the post, this is wholly appropriate and I want to thank you Manda, for the complete and public failure of my little joke. #JennyHill, ring any bells? Or perhaps you don’t read my rofl hilair tweets that closely? Also this joke works as a reference to your surname. A multi-layered joke. Come on! It’s only Monday. #value. Cathy x

  6. Milla says:

    Dear Cathy
    This is a delightful blog which I found, how? I have no idea, a bored stumbling about while men make alarming noises in my utility room. I like the way it is funny and serious. I now need to go and find Brother of the more Famous Jack (which I remember only for its preface, and the cheery news that BT only wrote once she hit 40).
    Be grateful for being 44, you child.
    48 on Friday. Horrific.

    • Cathy Dreyer says:

      Thank you so much. I am delighted you like my blog. I am 45 next month, so, catching you up. I’d love to see your website but the link you posted is broken, or something. So I’ll try googling ‘youknowwhere’. Cathy xx

  7. Milla says:

    that is WEIRD – why did “you know where” come up as the link (didn’t even input my details, wordpress just remembered them, but with random youknowhere instead) and then weirder still that despite that, you still managed to find my blog. When you’re not going to parties where Hugh Grant isn’t, are you a private detective?

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