I have been down the rabbit hole of looking at people who have made a success of their lives in the way that I wanted to make a success of mine. When I was younger (by which I mean quite young in my twenties and so forth), I was always looking at how old the people I wanted to be were. I spent hours looking for hints about dates of birth and then doing the sums from there. And because I was young, they were inevitably older than I was, I thought that the secret ingredient was age. The reason things hadn’t come together for me was simply a matter of being too young.
Now, of course, all the people who have success in the domains I want to have success are a lot younger than I am. So I was right, in that there is an age where it all comes together. But I have passed that age.
It turns out that the ingredient wasn’t simply time, but what was happening during that time. What I was doing with that time. And what I was doing with that time was sometimes, but not enough, writing.
With the result that here I am in my mid-fifties, and I’m feeling two highly contradictory things about my writing work. One is that I really did miss my chance. I feel that the years I spent wishing I were a writer but not doing the writing have led to here, a bit of finished work, but not all that much. The second thing I feel is that I am here to do the work now, and that I have good projects to lose myself in, and if I just focus on them it really will all come together.
Of course the other thing is the constant question: if I’m not going to sit down and do the writing then what am I going to do with that time? And if I get to the end of another five years and I still haven’t finished this or that, then I’ll be even more frustrated than I am now.
So back to the (writing) work it is.
Okay, here’s the thing: I’m tired. Not emotionally exhausted or anything like that, just good old-fashioned, can-hardly-stay-awake tired. And I’ve been like it for about a week now. I’m eating well, getting exercise, not particularly stressed about anything, and don’t feel any lurking illnesses. So it’s prolly cos the temperature is hovering around forty degrees every day now, and when I’m not outside in searing degrees, I’m inside in air-conditioned air.
It’s weird though, because last night, I was still awake at 2 am, thinking to myself, just as I had been for the last four hours, ‘I wish I was asleep, why aren’t I asleep, all day long all I’ve wanted to do is sleep, and now I’ve got the chance and all I’m doing is thinking about sleeping.
The upshot of all this tiredness being that the short story which must soon be finished is still in the muddling stage and appears to be nothing more than a collection of words gathered together on one page for no apparent reason (despite that day when I had moment after moment of insight and clarity and couldn’t have been more sure that this short story was deftly-plotted, perfectly-paced, and oh-my-goodness so witty).
One of the consequences of returning to work is that I never have the house to myself. It is no longer mine to roam around unhindered, moving from my desk to the sink, trailing and trialing my thoughts uninterrupted.
I have taken to getting up early. Earlier and earlier every day, greedy for every moment that I can spend alone. Knowing how deeply I love to sleep will give you some idea of just how much I value silence and solitude.
I sit at my desk, pen in hand, computer screen dimmed. I barely dare to write so fragile is the silence, so scared am I to lose it, so badly do I want the time to stop.
Even though I’m already awake, the sound of the first alarm still ruins my day.