Friday, November 20, 2009

I have been speaking to the National Pandemic people and it looks as though I may have swine flu (it seems to have come in the wake of chest infection). Not that they can tell for sure, obviously, but enough boxes were ticked for them to suggest a) contacting my gp and b) taking antivirals. I tried to do a and then hung up after waiting for ages, not their fault but it's tiring at the end of a line with a high temperature, more tiring than doing a little blog post. Temperatures are a good thing, they burn things away, and I will try and stay with it for a bit. I am not persuaded that taking antivirals is necessarily a good thing. I don't know. My gut feeling is not to, so I'll go with that.

I gave Son a lift in the car yesterday and sneezed. Bugger. He is due to travel to India to work for several months on 7th December and has work commitments until then. He is away this weekend, saying goodbye to friends (just as well), Daughter was due to come with lovely new boyfriend on Sunday for lunch, and to collect important things for a project she is putting on in London. "I can't get ill now," she says, "I just can't." So Mr. Signs will have to go to the station and hand the heavy bag of photocopied material over at the station and not breathe on her or the boyfriend in case he is incubating. In fact, neither of us should breathe on anyone at all for - I need to look up how long. I probably shouldn't even be breathing on you, folks.

There is a nagging voice that says, you brought this on yourself by blasting away on the NaNo. You knew it was too much, didn't you? Shut up, I say. And when this is over I am going back to it - The Writing, I mean.

Meanwhile, I'll be spooking around the place and dreaming.

Tuesday, November 17, 2009


I have reached the half way mark of 25,000 words, a day behind target but still. Apart from the fun of the game (a truly essential element), and of doing it alongside some lovely others (so one is not entirely alone at the coalface) it has been sheer, hard , hacking-a-path-through-mountain slog. This is the long haul, you see, and I've never done that. It's like being in labour, when you suddenly experience a profound respect for all the other women who have been through this. Novelists, both published and unpublished - anyone who has actually done this thing of seeing a story (plotted, plotless, prosaic, poetic, whatever) through to the end: Respect!
And life does its best to get in the way. Why wouldn't it? It is such an unnatural thing to be doing, this out of the body thing with ghostie characters who inhabit one's imagination, take on substance and are unpredictable or too predictable, like people but not. I have been in my red and white pyjamas all day, with chest infection, feel awful and M.E. god has turned his baleful and venomous eye on me. Actually, he has been doing this from the outset, but today he sat on the bed with me and said: think you got away with it? Payback time!

And - get this - the writing isn't making me happy. Well who said that it was supposed to do that? Occasionally I get a grim kind of satisfaction because I can feel the pick hitting the seam, but mostly I feel a bit shite about it all, although not as shite as I would feel if I were not doing it.

I spoke with my London-based writing fiend the other day. She is working on her novel and has expressed how she feels about her particular work-in-progress. She loves it with a steadfast, dedicated and pure love. It is a source of joy, close to her heart, her attention to it has made it so. I can see the potential for this, even though we (work-in-progress and I) are are not at this stage in our relationship and it is an uneven and precarious kind of courtship.

A measure of Blogoslavian distraction feels like a good thing.

Friday, November 6, 2009


Two good things. Well, more than just two, but the ones I will mention have to do with The Writing.

For firstly, five of my poems are out in the latest (No. 48) edition of Obsessed With Pipework (subtitle: poetry with strangeness and charm), and one of them is called Reading the Signs. I really like this quarterly, and not just because the editor was good enough to take my poems. It has the look and feel of the kind of pamphlets one used to come across in what I shall euphemistically call a more rockanroll decade - something that has a cobbled together kind of look, but it is cobbled with artistry and soul - not to mention strangeness and charm. I subscribed to it when blogfriend and writer Ms Pants had her poems published there, and I have read every copy since (unusually for me) from first poem to last and been pleased to see some erstwhile writing cronies from Hackney days represented there. With neurologically challenged brain, it is difficult to keep finger on the pulse and read, as well as digest, everything that one would like to. So OWP is a very good thing for me, nicely made, with concentrated poetry nourishment I appreciate.

For secondly, I am - as I cavalierly bragged in the last post - taking part in this year's NaNoWriMo, and I have bashed out exactly 10,0005 words in six days. This is, to put you in the picture, exactly five words more than I need to be on track for my 50,000 by the end of the month. It is testing my strength to the limit, but so far so good, and look - I am even putting up a post as well. Muscles are aching, eyes are smarting, but this feels like a breeze compared to the hacking-a-path-through-the-mountain that is fiction-writing. Someone, but I can't remember who, described it as such and I felt it was, as far as my process was concerned, accurate. I know what is on the other side of the mountain and have a rough idea of what I might need to do in order to get there, but the path is made with much effort and with no guarantee that you are really heading in the right direction, but if you keep going you are going to get out somewhere, and if it is not exactly the spot you intended, never mind. I have written short stories, poems, bits of novel, but never yet actually done the long haul. When I reach the pearly gates I would like to say that I had a go. And this, I suppose, for better or worse, is it.

You will surely be wondering about Shrink, and where he fits into all of this. Obviously I have had to let him go - the road was, in every possible sense, too long, arduous and expensive and, well, all things must end, even psychoanalytic therapy. At the back of my mind, also, was the image of Woody Allen in Sleepers, waking up some time far in the future and working out that he might just, at this point have completed his psychoanalytic treatment. Don't ask me if it has done any good, I probably won't know until half way through my next incarnation. What I do know is that the notion of banging one's head against a brick wall, and how good it feels when you stop doing that, resonates.

Laters, comrades.