Today is one of those days when I’m racking my brain to figure out what to write. The problem is that there are some days when its hard to write, and every word you put down is heavy, one rock after another. The beginnings of my first (and hopefully last, please!) winter cold are setting in, head like cotton wool, throat like sandpaper. I’m tired from too many late nights – burning the midnight oil and getting into bad habits with sleep again. Last night I was up until 3.30am watching Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close (I read the book a couple of years ago, by Jonathan Safran Foer), and I started reading Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas. Which is my Dad’s favourite book.
I’ve been consuming a lot of tea and toast. Tea and toast is the culinary equivalent of a hot water bottle and a hug. The toast has to be crunchy but chewy, the tea has to be just shy of builder’s strength. With plenty of sugar or sweetener. I’ve been putting margarine and Marmite on my toast – just a scraping of Marmite over just melting margarine. The living room is cold – the windows are large bay windows that are only single paned. They are waiting to be reinforced with another set of glass sometime this winter. As a result, the radiators are working extra hard, and a blanket is a must for cold toes. Marmalade is determined to curl up on or next to my legs on the sofa, vibrating.
There is a lot of noise on Facebook and Twitter about NaNoWriMo and writing, and my mind turns guiltily to my neglected novels and unfinished short stories. Is this finally the month when I take up fiction again? When my slump is finally driven through with a stake and my imagination comes to life? Can I rekindle that passion for writing about the mysterious, supernatural and unexplained? A steaming hot cup of tea and the crunch of toast is no replacement for the dizzying euphoria of finishing a piece of (rough, unedited) fiction. I know; so many writers have this battle, a tug of war between needing to write and the ‘other’ things they need/want to do. Yet should writing be this hard?
When I scroll through Twitter looking for something to read, anything, that will somehow shine a bright light on my motivation and push me towards fiction writing, I lose time. Time well spent when reading good articles and blog posts, but still time lost from writing. And time is all we have. I never use the word Failure, because Failure is hopeless. Nobody fails because there is always the possibility of starting again, picking up pen or laptop and typing another line, another story. That is the possibility and hope that I cling on to. This is one of the reasons why I’m doing this blogging every day for a month thing – to pull me back into the habit of writing, reflection, and creation.
Even on days when the heating and a warm blanket (and cat) threaten to send me to sleep without writing my daily blog post, I still feel that urge to write. Some days that urge is hard; and I know I’m a cliché of a writer who complains about how this thing called writing is so hard – but then I suppose in what other act of creation are we forced to stare at blank pages and pull something out of nothing? A magic trick of the brain, of your hands hitting keys making marks on a screen and paper. It’s a conjuring trick. You can’t see it but now you can – a veritable rabbit out of a hat. Without any sleight of hand.
Writing is magic, as much the water of life as any other creative art. The water is free. So drink. Drink and be filled up. – Stephen King.