When I checked the word count of this blog yesterday (and I’ve forgotten to say that much of Saturday was taken up with copying and pasting everything that I’d written on here in Crete to the master file of it on my machine), I was astounded to see I’d written over 211k words since I started on 1st January, including Aggie. Quite a revelation, and proof that doing a little every day does add up to quite a lot (and proving once again that old proverbs are the truth – “look after the pennies and the pounds will look after themselves” springs to mind). Yes, I have neglected The Mortality Code, but I haven’t neglected writing – and last year I really did neglect it, didn’t write every day, had arrived at a point where I thought I couldn’t honestly call myself a writer any more.
Yes, I probably work less than I did last year, but those five hours or so a week are hours that were above and beyond anyway. Yes, and this is me being defensive to myself and of myself, I probably overshare some stuff (but a huge amount of self-censorship remains), and what I would say, to myself and to those reading, is that whatever I say is just recounting the facts of how I feel on any given day rather than a self-pitying whinge. Revealing so much of my private self in public is meant to encourage others to do the same (we still don’t talk about poor mental health enough), and to find some sort of therapy through writing of themselves for themselves and for anyone who will read it. It’s at the very least a start for those who may not know where to begin.
And, for me, the thing is, it’s made me write. Not as in forced me to write (although some days I find it very difficult to even start on a blank page and fill it), but as in encouraged me to write, because what’s on here is only some of the writing I’ve been doing this year. And words and plots and poems and formulations now suffuse my being in a way I thought was almost impossible. And I’m working on another song with Marina Florance, the first draft mix of which I heard yesterday, and played to M, and cried at the beauteous shape my words were being turned into, just plain simple words, just grown from the seed of an idea from Marina, and worked on over and over until they were right for her (and her collaborator) to sing. This is what writing is, a joyous (and sometimes heart-breaking, and often laborious) outpouring of meaning, because that’s what it is, an attempt to create meaning and truth through putting one word after the other to fashion them into something understandable.
I did want to publish The Mortality Code this year, but I’m not sure that’s going to happen. I do have another completed novel up my sleeve, though, which I may decide to spend time on filing into shape and getting out in time for Christmas. A final hurrah for the old village, perhaps, and a thank you for all the years of sanctuary and cricket it gave me. Only perhaps, though. It is a very personal novel that only M and my therapist have read so far. We shall see. Yes, we shall see.
AGGIE’S ART OF HAPPINESS – CHAPTER 159
‘I have tried to tell her that,’ Lilibet says, bursting into the room unannounced. ‘But she’s not very good at hearing. Listening, maybe, but not hearing and heeding.’ She flings herself into the comfy armchair next to Aggie, brandishes two boxes. ‘Burner phones. Cheap for cash.’
‘I was getting worried about you.’ Aggie says.
‘No need. I can look after myself. And this sort of thing takes time. I didn’t want to make it too obvious to anyone who might or might not be watching.’
‘So,’ Aggie says to Robert. ‘What now? You’re tracking his scrotum round the country, but can you hear what he’s saying?’
‘I’d rather not hear what that part of him is saying, thank you very much,’ Robert says, grins and rubs his hands together. ‘I’ve arranged taps on all the phones we know he has. Of course, it doesn’t mean he can’t do what old Lily here has just done.’
‘And we still have this,’ Aggie says, holds out Martin’s old phone. ‘I could just phone Valentine now, put on my Martin voice, and say there’s an impostor at my house because he escaped from me even after I’d beaten him to a pulp.’
‘That’s quite elegant,’ Robert says. ‘Even though I say so myself. And Valentine will send someone to the house and take the old man in and beat him up some more.’
‘You’re a vindictive old sod, aren’t you, deep down?’ Lilibet says. ‘And I quite like the sound of Lily.’
‘Yes, I am,’ Robert says. ‘Because I’ve been patient and kind and self-deprecating for too long.’
‘Hasn’t anyone ever called you Lily?’ Aggie says.
Lilibet shakes her head. ‘Nope. Just that name you heard my mother call me.’
‘Really?’ Aggie says.
‘Ladies, ladies,’ Robert says. ‘I know it’s my fault, and I should never have said it, but if I may bring you back to the matter in hand rather than the nicknames those in love call each other, I think it may be an idea not to call Valentine until you get to Norwich. Just in case he thinks it would be a good idea to ransack the damn place before you find whatever it is Cassie wants you to find down there. And I have no idea what it could be.’
‘And you’ll just keep tracking him?’
Robert nods. ‘And if it looks like something’s gone awry, I’ll call you.’ He rips open the cardboard box of one of the burner phones. ‘Just like Christmas; except the wrapping is better than mine.’
‘There isn’t any wrapping,’ Lilibet says.
‘Exactly,’ he says. ‘Your turn.’
Aggie unpacks hers, and they swap numbers.
‘They’re fully charged,’ Lilibet says. ‘I made sure.’
‘That sounds rather aggressive,’ Robert says. ‘I hope you didn’t threaten anyone.’
Robert laughs. ‘Such a sweet beautiful young thing, and butter wouldn’t melt in your mouth.’ He gets up. ‘If you insist on going, you’d better go. Do you want any of the others with you?’
‘I think that would just complicate things,’ Aggie says.
‘I agree,’ Robert says. ‘Besides, Anna and Zac will be useful for surveillance. If they can keep their hands off each other.’ He sighs. ‘And Katharina is a sly old fox, and she’ll bring Marit around soon enough.’
‘I’m not so sure,’ Katharina says, slipping into the room. ‘You must learn to keep your voice down a little, Robert. Projecting is all very well and good, but sometimes, you do have to understand it’s better not to project.’
‘I’m sorry.’ Robert lowers his voice, and bends down at the same time as if he believes that will help. ‘So why do you doubt you’ll be able to bring her around.’
‘Because she’s only gone and disappeared.’