Monday, 1 February 2016

Write it down, write it down.

Write it down, write it down, say the voices in my head.
Which voices?
The ones which have suddenly decided that since I was forty-nine on Saturday, it is now my absolute duty to record every moment of the year before I am fifty.
I don’t really know why. Because it is a milestone; because life is whistling by my ears; because I am terrified that I shall get to that big age and say ‘Where did all the time go and why did I not do more with it and what is the point of it all anyway?’
If it is written down, at least I shall have 365 pages of something, that exist, like proofs that I was here. Or something.
I don’t really understand it, but those voices are very shouty, so even though I am tired and my brain has fizzled out like the kind of old wiring that electricians suck their teeth over, I’m writing it bloody well down.
There was sleet and a wild, biting wind. Despite this, I got on my horse first thing because I love her and I miss her and I’m fed up with letting the weather come between us. She was not especially impressed, particularly when we reached the top of the field and found horizontal sleety rain in our faces and a wind as bitter as Sarah Palin. (She really is very, very bitter. I know she thinks she is perky, but I sense bitterness.) Then the little brown mare came roaring up the slope as if to say what the hell are you two doing? so we all trundled back down together. I felt like something out of the Green Grass of Wyoming, riding one horse with one hand and herding another.
            Then it was work work work work. There was a small pause for dog dog, as Stan the Man and Darwin the Dog went outside in the weather and wrestled about like Alan Bates and Oliver Reed. (Sometimes I have to avert my eyes.) Then more work work work. Then a visit to the vet, which went completely awry when Stanley escaped the locked car, dashed across Station Square, let himself into the vet’s office and stared balefully at Darwin and me, waiting politely for the second puppy vaccination. Everyone thought it was hysterical.
            I braved the wind and fed the horses and then there was more work.
            All this mad activity is because I had another deadline. I’ve given up talking about deadlines, because this is now the fifth time I’ve reworked this book and I’ve started to believe it shall never be finished. The agent, who is discerning and brilliant, never lets me off the hook. So there has been restructuring, a change of emphasis, two complete re-writes, and I don’t really know how many polishes. I can’t see straight or focus my eyes or decide if it is any good or not.
            One day, if I am very lucky, it might be published by an actual publisher and go into an actual bookshop and be read by actual humans. Then I have to worry about whether anyone will buy it. But that is long in the future, and as I drove back from the shop tonight after doing some errands I thought: best hope is that it  might be quite good. I have got very slick at managing my ambitions.
            This is all quite dull, say the critical voices. Is this the best you can do for your last year in your forties? Could you not give it a bit of va va voom?
            No, I bloody well couldn’t. Some days have no voom. Some days are very ordinary and quite tiring and entirely pedestrian. I can’t do a tap dance to order.

            Today was just what it was. It was cold, and I got some stuff done. Some days, that has to be enough.


  1. I really appreciate you continuing to share your days with us, even if every day is not Doris Day. And on those days when there's no va va voom, we have someone to tap dance for us:
    Fred & Ginger!

  2. Belated happy birthday. And mundane is never mundane when you write it. I can't wait for the book! x

  3. I just turned 70 and I too thought what have I done? what haven't I done? And you know what? I am so grateful to be alive albeit a bit battered and bloodied.

    Without being too Pollyanna, there is a great joy to be found in the moment(your recent post);there is an immense pleasure in good friends, and, even if I no longer take to the streets to protest against wars I can email my protests... life is sweet.

  4. Belated birthday wishes. Just so you know; I buy your books. So keep on going...

  5. Yes happy birthday with jazz hands and Doris Day and super speedy circles that lurchers excel at. And yes, bitter, Sarah P ticks that box alright although I think you are the first to have pointed that out in my lifetime. And that percipient detail is why, in part I feel sure, you are read. So keep on keeping on!

  6. You will get there and I am sure it will be marvellous - never lose faith just keep going.

    Bit American feel goody I know but sometimes I look at what I have written and think ' it's duff' then the odd sentence and think actually this is ok...

  7. @Place to stand: Well, what's wrong with American feel goody (says the American)? I appreciate both the British reserve and the American gallop. Each has its uses, its beauties.

    @Tania: I have just turned 49 myself! Somehow, it has not knocked me down. I don't feel any different, really. I am also in the process of growing the hair coloring out of my now-greying hair. I thought that would make me feel old, but it's really quite exciting! I think Judi Dench and Maggie Smith have completely changed the way I feel about growing older. They've taken the bit in their teeth, refused to color and botox and apologize, and they are damn fine dames! That's how I'd like to be.


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