Sometimes you hit a wall. I didn’t sleep well last night (for a variety of reasons, none private life related), and getting up this morning has been a bit of an effort (a lot of an effort, really), and the office/studio/study seems more like torture chamber than the peaceful place it often can be. For context, I’m officially on holiday from my day job this week.
I have always found it odd how much the weather can influence my mood (and the mood of others). The last few mornings have been bright and sharp, the promise of a day of sunlight and frost rising behind the houses at the end of our south-east-facing garden. This morning there is nothing but a narrow, hemmed-in strip of clear sky vacillating between clouds that move as quickly as thoughts one second, and as slowly as governments the next. And I stare at the screen and get irritated by a vibrating sound of unknown source that assails my ears every time I start typing at anything more than glacial speed.
When I wrote poems the last three mornings, I originally thought I was avoiding writing something substantive here. The realisation that it was actually more difficult to write a poem than just scribbling down life thoughts, throwaway ideas, was an interesting revelation for a man who has always written by instinct rather than deliberate thought (that vibrating sound again, damn it!), and it took me an hour for each of those poems rather than just the 30 minutes I’d grown used to for the “disposable” reflections on my existence. Maybe I had grown embarrassed at hearing my own voice and/or the perceived banality and self-importance of those reflections. Muscle and mind memory territory not yet reached – three more days for that.
On the upside, of a kind, I have managed to write a net 7,119 more words of The Mortality Code over the last two days. There have been cuts and alterations to parts I wrote months ago, so that the plot doesn’t disappear up some blind alley even I can’t rescue it from, and the characters are definitely moving forwards again (I wouldn’t say they were very happy with each other right now, but that’s a function of their behaviour rather than my writing – this is the extreme of character-driven writing; they determine their own actions, and I just write down what they’re doing). This might well turn into one of those long books I never thought I could write, because the whole lot of them have so many different stories to tell, all relevant to how they’re acting right now. And that other group of characters, the antagonists I suppose theorists would call them, are making themselves far too likeable in a dangerous way, in that isn’t the Dark Side attractive and exciting sort of way. I am guessing that someone somewhere will make the wrong move, and that there’ll be a combustion of some sort sooner rather than later, and we’ll lose some of the good people and some of the bad people, and there will be less stories to tell, and some characters to mourn. They’ll decide that in their own time, and I’ll sit and watch and write and despair at the loss of one or more of my favourite characters, but there won’t be anything I can do to change their destinies.
The dim light outside is getting stronger now, but it still seems dark inside this bubble – that’s how it feels whether it’s a torture chamber of thoughts or a sanctuary from everything outside. Every winter seems to get more and more interminable. In the end I suppose this just prolongs that happy state of hope we have when watching the days grow marginally longer. The odd thing is that in a phone call a few weeks ago, my son said he always thought I was an eternal optimist when I (and my characters) know I’m actually the polar opposite of that. Or maybe I just turn myself into a pessimist deliberately so I can be forever miserable. But that’s another story.