I have had a strange weekend, though strange by whose standards I can’t really say, and my life is altogether a little strange when I compare it to the lives of fully able-bodied folk. If one can pull back from the idea that it is unpleasant and one would rather be feeling different it becomes, to some extent, interesting.
I have two novels on the go that I am trying to read, both very different in terms of content and style but both equally difficult for me to focus on. Increasingly, with novels, I find myself thinking that this is ok, the writing ticks all the boxes in terms of writerly craft, I can’t actually find fault with any of it; but my overwhelming response is: so what? Sometimes I skip about, back and forth, and it doesn’t seem to matter much in what order I read it. Talk about losing the plot. This means I get the essence of the author but not the narrative as it is written, I lose the unfoldingness of it.
On Saturday, after the scones and a walk which I knew I was pushing myself to take, I lay in bed, head full of white noise (M.E. head), unwilling to be dragged into what I knew would be a dark and tangled sleep. I had a pressing impulse to stay awake and record the moment. Even though I can barely read a story, my own narrative (it seems) still matters and writing is somewhat easier than reading – as talking, I suppose, is often much easier than listening. I noted that the air outside was quite blue as the light faded. There is a bird that sings, always at that time, as though occupied with some urgent and pressing matter, and I thought about the nightingale in the Oscar Wilde story, how the singing bird pressed itself against the thorn to make the white rose red, all for love. Red for Valentine.
I had fourteen hours of troubled sleep with dreams like background TV that someone forgot to switch off, and by late afternoon of Sunday I was still in PJs. In the evening I went to London to see my daughter singing the blues on a barge on the River Thames, Cry Me A River is playing somewhere in my consciousness, most beautifully, and I think again about the bird and the dark red rose.
On the platform at Clapham Junction, I sat down and had a hallelujah moment: what am I doing trying to write a novel? (do not answer this) Hallelujah, but wtf am I doing – writing as though I am living a normal (cognitively speaking) life? Short bursts of frenetic thought, words that fall out, apparently incoherent, but they arrange themselves into something that has a language, almost unintelligible perhaps, but. Then I remembered that this is how my brain works now; and that nothing matters but the quality of light at any given moment, the bird, the rose, cry me a river (no really, it’s fine). I think this may be as close as I can come to religious ecstasy.
Meanwhile, I have pressing decisions to make about my future and am perilously close to the state of blinding euphoria that impels me to sign up and commit to things (a postgraduate university course - stop me, someone) that inevitably come crashing down on my head.
It is a good thing that I am wearing my purple trousers. They remind me of just about everything.