Posted by Tania Kindersley.
Well, my best beloveds, I finally got a grip. I looked the terror in the eye and said B for Be Off. (B for Bugger off, actually, but this is a family show, and my mother tunes in.) That sounds frantically proactive and admirable, but of course it was much less tremendous than that. I think I just got bored of being such a wuss. I have an old theory, which you will find in Backwards, that the thing the comes along and rescues you most often from heartbreak is boredom. It is so deadly dull to go on yearning for someone after a while that you just wake up one morning and think sod it. The same thing happened in this case of paralysing self-doubt. I don't think that I summoned any great moral fibre to combat the Fear. I was simply dying of dullness. Also, I did sign a contract and I don't want my agent to get cross.
So now, miraculously, there are two thousand words of the new book. Once I started, it turned out I had several things to say, you will be astonished to hear. I even made up an entirely new theory about the evolutionary nature of beauty, which took me quite by surprise. (I now have to go and look up the science, to see if I have any peer-reviewed evidence to back it up.) One of the things I like about writing is that I quite often find myself transcribing ideas I did not know I actually had. I think this is why some writers can grow a little mystical about their work, because every so often they get an unexpected bullet from the subconscious or the subliminal or the collective unconscious (at which point, they all rush off to brush up on their Jung). I like to be quite stern and ruthless about the act of writing, even though I have some romantic notions about literature and language generally. I believe that it is not a matter of magic or inspiration, but application and perspiration. I always loved that line of Nabokov's, when he was asked about the idea of characters in a novel taking on a life of their own: sheer balderdash, he said (not in so many words); 'my characters are like galley slaves'. That's the spirit.
After all that I feel: happy, relieved, industrious, galvanised. I am acutely aware that it is only 2,000 words, and there are 88,000 to go. But as Caesar said, of building Rome: brick by brick, my citizens, brick by brick.
And, as part of the fledgling my year in pictures project, here is what I saw today.
I'm afraid the snow and dog theme persists.
My little garden gate, which for some reason captivated me this morning, with its delicate covering of snow: