Kangaroos and writing

He had finished twirling and now he was jumping. Concentration, both knees bent, then a tiny flight in the air and a big thump forward. That’s a jump.


Watching my toddler, it looked like a whole lot of effort. It’s surprising how quickly we forget, how these things become second nature. (Not that I would want to actually jump around the room, you understand – so much effort involved.)


Bend…up-thump! Bend…up-thump! He was still doing it, all round the room, and his cheeks were growing rosy from the effort.

“Look, Mummy, I’m a kangaroo!”

I don’t know why it’s so hard to teach metaphor to secondary school kids – my preschooler knows it instinctively. He doesn’t say, ‘look mummy, I’m like a kangaroo’ – he jumps therefore he is. The similes, they come later, along with the self-doubt. The metaphor, the transformation, that’s instinctive. It’s there at the beginning. It is a freeing and terrifying thought, that if you do, you are.

Perhaps that makes me a writer.

Joining with Lisa-Jo Baker for Five-minute-Friday. This was my best five minutes on ‘jump’.

Over to you:

  • “If you do, you are.” What would it excite you to say you are, if you follow this logic?
  • And what would it dismay you to realise you’re not, if you follow this logic? (Hope that makes sense!)

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30 Responses to Kangaroos and writing

  1. John Jordan 21st April, 2013 at 4:51 pm #

    You are without doubt a writer Tanya; a gifted writer.
    Cycling is something that excites me because I do; therefore I am a cyclist.
    The wonderful freedom of riding wherever I want. The endorphins produced by the prolonged exercise. The rhythmic sensation produced by the regular cadence of pushing the pedals. The excitement of downhill speed. The time to think, and create when riding alone. The comradeship of riding with others in a chain gang, or draughting a tired rider. The satisfaction of knowing that I have had to dig deep into my physical resources on occasions, and succeeded.
    I missed it so badly for the three years that I struggled with chronic fatigue. I could not even bring myself to watch The Tour de France, or any other cycling event during this time. Listening to friends talk of rides was unbearable.
    (I have suddenly had the urge to cry as I wrote the last paragraph. Writing is such a powerful way of tapping into emotions. One of the psychologists I worked with, encouraged me to write about my unhelpful childhood experiences which facilitated the release of some powerful emotion. I had not realised that I love cycling THIS much!)

    The thing that I do therefore I am, that does not excite me is being a Civil Servant. Although I do the things a Civil Servant does, it is akin to playing a dramatic role. I work at the role because I have to.
    As you know Tanya, I took the job after suffering a breakdown at the age of eighteen. My ambition to teach was in tatters, and I needed a job that was secure, comfortable, and not particularly intellectually challenging. It ticked those boxes.
    As the years progressed, my partial recovery, made me realise that I was not suited to the job. By then I was married with the commensurate financial commitments. In addition, I still suffered with crippling self doubt which meant that I was afraid to try anything else. I have made modest career progress, not through ambition, but because I have needed the money to support a family.
    Oh dear, this all sounds a bit dismal; but it is not all bad.
    I have made some good friends. Most people in the Civil Service are genuinely nice people. I enjoy the technical challenges, and decision making in plans work. I have a reputation for hard work and accuracy. I have provided for my family.
    Most of all, The Agency I work for is a superb employer. It is not possible to exceed the level of support I have received to enable me to work with my mental health difficulties. They know that I will make the effort to work, so they make the effort to enable me to work.
    Although I have not been a natural Civil Servant, in many ways, it has been the right role for me to play.
    (Sorry for the length of this comment Tanya. Sometimes I find it hard to be brief.)

    • Tanya 25th April, 2013 at 1:25 pm #

      Thanks so much for this, John! I find myself really excited when you talk about your cycling – it almost makes me want to do it (and that is saying something, because I loathe cycling).

      Your comment about the civil service thing is tricky. I hate that we have to define ourselves by the things that we do, when we really don’t enjoy those things. I don’t really think of you as a civil servant.

      But ‘servant’ IS something I associate with you – you serve people, you help people, often in unseen and subtle ways. And civil is also something I associate with you – you are wonderfully polite and courteous. So perhaps you are a civil servant, after all πŸ™‚

      • John Jordan 25th April, 2013 at 6:20 pm #

        Thank you Tanya.
        I have had a challenging day today, so your positive comments came at just the right time.
        God bless.

  2. Janice 19th April, 2013 at 9:45 pm #

    Totally love what you did at the end there. It’s made me smile all morning (I always end up reading things on my phone HOURS before I can sit in peace at the computer and actually write out a response…) and I’ve been contemplating my answers to your questions.

    I’m going to steal, “Perhaps that makes me a writer” and whenever my inner voice starts to doubt it I’ll just say, “If you do, you are,” With authority. Until she is quiet. πŸ™‚

    And I am dismayed to say that I’m not a bird. I neither let myself fly freely in the vast expanse God has given me to fly through, being too caught up in lining up sticks in my nest, nor singing for the sheer pleasure of the song, being too busy wondering who is listening.

    • Janice 19th April, 2013 at 9:46 pm #

      and this, “β€œThe similes, they come later, along with the self-doubt.” Exactly.

    • Tanya 20th April, 2013 at 3:26 pm #

      You ARE writer.
      And the bird thing? Made me cry.

      Much love to you, amazing lady.

  3. Seth 19th April, 2013 at 6:40 pm #


    Sometimes, I am like a simile.

    Good post.

    • Tanya 19th April, 2013 at 8:56 pm #

      You are definitely a metaphor.

      Thanks so much for stopping by πŸ™‚

  4. Tara Owens 19th April, 2013 at 6:10 pm #

    “The similes, they come later, along with the self-doubt.”

    This. Yes.

    Thank you.

    • Tanya 19th April, 2013 at 8:56 pm #

      Sending you a high-five πŸ™‚

  5. Mark Allman 19th April, 2013 at 4:51 pm #

    Oh Tanya,
    I would say “Look World.. Tanya is a great writer”. You are one of the most talented writers I know. There is no perhaps to it!

    • Tanya 19th April, 2013 at 8:55 pm #

      Thank you, Mark – you’re one of my greatest cheerleaders, and I really appreciate it!

      • Mark Allman 19th April, 2013 at 10:18 pm #

        And it is an honor

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