No riding today as the ground is too hard. It’s been minus six every morning for a week. The light is ravishing and Scotland glitters and gleams, pristine and white with hoar frost, but it’s no weather for working a horse.
This gives me extra writing time. I work and work and work. Suddenly, instead of feeling a holy sense of achievement, I grow furious and frightened. All this thinking, all this typing, all these words, will they ever add up to anything? Will the agent ever ring with that good telephone call? I hunch my shoulders, suddenly terrified that I will never be able to make this into a proper, grown-up job. I spend so much time counting my blessings and looking at the beauty and searching for the silver linings and concentrating on the small things and trying to be a half-decent human and, all at once, despite all this striving, everything falls apart.
I feel the fear and despair run through me like an ache, like a blow. Oh, bugger, I think; this again. It comes from time to time, often when I am least expecting it. I know every day can’t be Doris Day, but really, do we have to go through this again?
It’s probably because you are cold, says my kind, sensible voice.
I forgot to ring the nice oil people (they really are very nice and always deliver incredibly quickly and with a beaming smile) and so the heating is off and I’m sitting in three jumpers and a hat and my gumboots in the office with one convection heater battling the chill. That battle is not being won.
Yes, says the sensible voice, you are cold and you’re a bit tired and you’re missing your mother and you’ve only got yourself to rely on and you are responsible for the hay bill and sometimes that’s all a bit much. It’s only human, says the sensible voice, to have a bad day from time to time.
Fuck that for a game of soldiers, says the furious voice, who is eight years old and has had too much sugar. I’m just spinning my wheels and everything is gone to hell and each time I look at the internet there’s that scary and clever financial gentleman who says that Britain is going into its worst economic crisis for seventy years. And who is going to have money for buying books then? We are doomed, yells the furious voice, and there’s no point to anything.
Are we extrapolating a fraction too far? says the pedantic voice, who has been in a bit of a state ever since a top writer misplaced a modifier this morning. (This feels like the world gone mad to the pedantic voice.)
You could always make some nice soup, says the sensible voice.
Soup!!!! I suddenly remember that I put on some celery soup to simmer this morning before I barricaded myself in the office with the heater. I rush to the kitchen. There, tragically, smelling of burnt dreams, are the charred corpses of my little chopped celery sticks. They huddle in the scorched pan, looking slightly apologetic, as if they really didn’t mean it.
Now I can’t even have soup, I think. I am fifty years old and I can’t remember to take the pan off the hob. It’s bread and water for supper and no more than I deserve.
We could list your blessings, says the sensible voice, hopefully; that will make you feel better. Bugger that, I say. I know that I could talk myself off the ceiling, I know that thoughts define my reality, I know all the things I should and could do. I wrote a whole bloody book about all those things. But you know what? I’m livid and I’m having a shitty day and I can’t be arsed. I’m just going to stare into the middle distance and be furious and you can damn well stop trying to make me feel better.
The sensible voice and the pedantic voice are now going shopping, because they’ve just remembered that there is something on special offer. Either that, or they’ve run away to join the circus and I don’t blame them. And I’m going to sit here in my hat and feel crappy for a bit. That is my plan.