They say that guilt is like pain: it’s there to tell you something’s wrong, so you can fix it. And this is true – or at least it can be. Sometimes, though, you feel guilty for something you really shouldn’t feel guilty for.

Eating, for example. Unless you’re eating in a self-destructive way, you shouldn’t feel guilty for eating. Eating food with more calories than celery is how you fuel your body, not a transgression that requires penitential exercise to exorcise. As it were.

Donut of DOOM

(Speaking of celery, I’ve heard that it takes more energy to consume than you actually receive from it; which suggests it’s only good for three things: carrying dip, making loud crunchy noises, or wearing on your lapel.)

Generally speaking, I avoid food that’s labelled “guilt-free!” because a) I don’t want to fund that kind of thinking, and b) they might as well label the food “taste was not our priority”.

I admit, eating is not something I tend to feel guilty about. But, as the Caped Gooseberry gently pointed out to me the other day, I do tend to set goals or targets for myself and then feel guilty if I don’t meet them.

As guilty, mark you, as I would feel if I had broken some more important rule, such as “Do Not Kick That Puppy”. Now there is nothing wrong with having a moral code (the puppies of the world thank you) but to put everything at the same level lacks perspective.

Weim Pups 001

On the other hand, setting goals can be good, and having targets is about the only way to reach them. The problem is when the goals become, as it were, a measuring stick to beat yourself with.

What to do?

I have set myself the goal of finishing the first full draft of my WIP by the end of the month. I’ve rearranged my daily round so I have two blocks of writing time each day: three hours in the morning and two hours in the afternoon; and this has definitely helped kick the productivity into high gear. But there’s still no guarantee that I will reach the end of the story by the end of the month.

So I have to keep reminding myself that it’s ok; that I will have made a huge and pleasing amount of progress even if I don’t write “The End” on the day I desire, and I do not need to feel guilty if I don’t.

The End Book

This goes hand in hand with reminding myself that I haven’t “failed” for the day – or the month – if I start a little late or don’t manage as many pages as the day before. Guilt can be crippling, and that leads to further failure – the genuine failure of giving up altogether.

It’s worth asking yourself, the next time you’re feeling guilty: have I really kicked a puppy? Or is this guilt a false friend who should be shown the door?

'Cute' Is A Four-Letter Word

If there is one thing I hate, it’s being called cute.
OK, ‘hate’ is a strong word. Although so is ‘love’, and we have no problem flinging that one about. Maybe not hate. Loathe, despise, abhor…

Don’t get me wrong, I’m not one of those people who automatically react aggressively to receiving compliments. Unless it’s ‘cute’. Because ‘cute’ is not a compliment, not unless you’re under five.
Baskets of kittens are cute. Puppies are cute. Babies are cute (when not, as Shakespeare put it, “mewling and puking”).

This is cute:

Dalmatian puppy, three weeks-7

Unless you’re Cruella de Vil, in which case it’s fabulous, and would look so good on me, don’t you think? Speaking of Cruella de Vil, in the book she insisted on all food being peppered – including ice-cream – and still somehow got married. Married!

Anyway. Back to the puppies. (Daww….) Ahem.
I don’t mind if people want to use the word ‘cute’, it is, as they say, a perfectly cromulent word. But it applies to some things and not to others, or it loses all meaning. Sweet little juveniles (of whatever species): cute. Lady eccentrics who have attained years of discretion: not cute.

The reason this is weighing on my mind is that my hair isn’t. About 75 grams worth, in fact, lopped off by the hairdresser. If that doesn’t give you a clear picture (and why would it?) think 50cm. Or just under 20 inches.

I now look something like this:

Florence Turner Who's Who on the Screen

except, of course, different: messy instead of glossy, no make-up, and a smile (I seem to smile more with short hair – don’t know why). Definitely Not Cute. Short curly hair may be considered cute on a toddler, but not on a grown woman, even if a touch round-faced and an inch or two below the average height.

Is there something you hate to be called? Soi-disant endearments, diminutives (don’t get me started) or nicknames? Tell all!