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Four Years On

I started working on this ridiculous time vampire of a book just over four years ago.

With the recent coverage of the Winter Olympics in Sochi I am reminded every day that in four years I’ve still not managed to finish it.

I enjoyed the 2010 Olympics, had great fun watching the downhill, the snowboard-cross and ski-cross (nutters), and I especially enjoyed watching the bob-sled teams. The competition may have been gripping enough but, at the time, I only had eyes on the brakemen as I suddenly realised that some of them were the build I was thinking of for Gihon and I began to make notes …

Like Lia – what has changed in fours years?

Not a lot.

The loft is still not finished.
A year of therapy to try and stop feeling such a failure (on a break at present).
Still in a dead end day job.
Still struggling with CFS/ME.

150K + words in and I’ve still not got things sorted.

I’m not good at finishing things. Finishing things means I will be inviting criticism. That wouldn’t be too bad but I’m guessing all I’ll get is ignored.

At one point I thought I had an obvious ending, but that was too obvious. Now I am in a sea of greys, no black, no white to my conclusions and the more I have left my ‘bad guy’ in the shadows the more I felt sorry for him. One problem was that he was in the shadows so much I couldn’t see him at all. Now I can see him – progress of a sort – and he was never a bad guy, just lonely.

I keep telling myself just to sit down and get on with it. I hadn’t realised that writing was just as much of a habit as anything else. A habit I seem to have forgotten. Even these meagre words have taken weeks to complete as I start and stop and distract myself with distraction (then go off to look for the Four Quartets again as my head fills with stray TS Eliot).

Odd, the things that come back to you, the detritus of lessons I couldn’t remember when I needed them at A level and now the words swirl around my head and I start to think that maybe nothing I have is original. Is my head just a filter, rearranging random words and images from everything I’ve ever read or seen before? As an eighteen year old Eliot entranced me, confused me … crushed me. I have the words in my head living a life independent of the original text. So easy to go back to now the internet is our memory but do I still want to be reminded of how little I am?

From East Coker (V)

So here I am, in the middle way, having had twenty years-
Twenty years largely wasted, the years of l’entre deux guerres-
Trying to use words, and every attempt
Is a wholly new start, and a different kind of failure
Because one has only learnt to get the better of words
For the thing one no longer has to say, or the way in which
One is no longer disposed to say it. And so each venture
Is a new beginning, a raid on the inarticulate,
With shabby equipment always deteriorating
In the general mess of imprecision of feeling,
Undisciplined squads of emotion. And what there is to conquer
By strength and submission, has already been discovered
Once or twice, or several times, by men whom one cannot hope
To emulate – but there is no competition –
There is only the fight to recover what has been lost
And found and lost again and again: and now, under conditions
That seem unpropitious. But perhaps neither gain nor loss.
For us, there is only the trying. The rest is not our business.

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Been a while

What to do when there is so much to be done and you don’t know where, or how, to begin?

Why, you just shut down and hope it will all go away. What, you mean you don’t do that? hmmm

I’ve been bad. I let things get on top of me and ended up in that dizzying blur of frantic activity that looks remarkably like just sitting on the sofa doing nothing. I confess, it may have just been sitting on the sofa doing nothing. No, I was doing something. I was drinking wine. I’m actually quite good at that.

I stopped trying to write as a I had his books (accounts) to get organised and then … well, I just couldn’t seem to get going again. Kept promising myself, get this done, get that done and can spend the time I need to move my people on. Course then we had Christmas and New Year. Not that they mean much to me but they raise another set of things that we are expected to do/go along with and I’ve always let duty override my deep desire to have nothing to do with the excesses of the modern festival.

Anyway the year is passing. No writing done on ski holiday. Desperately trying to fill in the gaps at work (2 bodies down and looks like they ain’t being replaced) and generally just too shitty by the time I get home to think straight. Too tired to write, too tired to exercise, the spiral runs and runs with brief bursts of progress showing themselves a false dawn as useful as recent attempts at Spring in Britain. Weekends are made up of periods of better sleep, hours of wakefulness and a cosseting hypnagogic trance state in which the words come easily but never quite spill out to my hands. I have forgotten so much that I should have expressed.

At work I have retreated into a general silence that people have read as a bad mood. While some of it is down to bad mood (let’s just not go down the route of my colleagues) they don’t really understanding the effort it takes just to go in in the morning. I speak to my users, I look after them and make them promises to see their problems resolved. I don’t mind doing the thinking for users. It’s what I’m there for, and if they could do my job I would be out of one so they can pretty much be as stupid as they want as far as I am concerned.

In six weeks I have another holiday coming up. An unexpected one. It may be a week of unwinding and getting my head in order. It may be a week of white knuckles and bitten back words. Whichever way I expect there will be wine. I hope there will also be words but the more that blank page stares back at me the harder I find it to put one letter after another.

So.

So, I will try (in bursts and twitches) to practice … to take a run up the foothills below my mountain of words and to see how it feels. Back to baby steps.

I want an end to excuses and to get back to being happier being me.