Sometimes, I fall into a defensive crouch. I put so much pressure on myself that I go into a kind of awful tunnel vision. It is dark in the tunnel, and the critical voices in my head like it in there and use it as a kind of echo chamber. Magical thinking, which I try to resist, lifts its head and senses its opportunity, and tells me that I shall never come to any good.
As I wrangle and struggle with my book, I see only the things which are not there. It will never be good enough, I am not good enough to make it good enough, the agent will know it is not good enough and will have to tell me so.
Then a shift in perspective comes, and I go back to the beginning, with clear eyes. Today, my eyes were clear. I started the editing all over again. I could see very well what needed to be done, and I did it. And I found, to my astonishment, that some of it was really not bad.
Just because I think it is good does not mean other people will too. Writing is a subjective business. One is always dependent on someone else’s opinion. There is no certainty, and this is part of what wears away at the troubled, questing, hopeful mind.
But today I know that all the work I have done is worth it, even if I do get rejected. That counts for something.
In the morning, before work, before thought, I ring The Beloved Cousin. At the very sound of her voice, I know that every single thing will be all right. She has that miraculous effect.
Friendship, I think, as I ride out later into the mild Scottish day, the air gentle against my face, never gets the press it deserves. It’s always romantic love which has the classic novels written about it, the songs, the poems, the plays, the films, the sonnets. But friend love, for me, is the one that saves your life, lifts your heart, restores your sanity, confirms your sense of self.
The Beloved Cousin understands every single word I say, laughs at my jokes, unpicks my troubles as if they were her own, makes me feel like a better human, remembers all the things I have forgotten, does not mind whether I am up, down or round the houses, expects me to be nothing but my own flawed, flaky self. She just gets it. (In this case, It is everything.)
As if determined to continue the love and loveliness, the red mare was at her absolute, shining, glittering crest and peak. She rode like a dream, was funny and dear, and showed off her dressage diva trot all the way down the lime avenue, with no reins and no stirrups. She seems to find it mildly amusing that I kick my feet out of the irons and wave my arms in the air, and boxes along in her best self-carriage whilst I laugh with delight.
And then there was the good work and I backed a ten-to-one winner at Goodwood as the ravishing Malabar, the only filly in the race, put the boys in their place, kicking away and streaking down the straight, her beautiful bay coat gleaming in the sun.
There are bad days, and good days. I like to record the good days, because when the shadows come, I find it soothing to look back and remember what the light is like. Today was all light.