It’s really taking some energy reserves to find the will to write this post. A weaker me just wants to lie on my bed and sob until I fall into one of those fitful sleeps that are half nauseating when you wake up dizzy and disoriented in the dying light. More tears, damn it, today I have shed yet more tears! And it’s been a strange day, too, because I’ve also been into town for the Wednesday Lowy Lunch, which I’ll tell you about in a minute, and which Llew and I thoroughly enjoyed. So as much as I am tempted to wallow in a warm bath of gurgling self-pity, I still know somewhere inside that the rapidly forming scum on top always ruins it for me, so I may as well just have a cold shower (look out! rambling metaphor on the loose! Duck for cover!) and be done with it.
Why am I in the dumps? Well, it’s the fucking manuscript, of course. I can hardly bear boring you with the details, but the upshot is I emailed the good people at Lynk and asked my assessor if she could be more specific about the overall prognosis, because on my second assessment, the ‘Where to From Here?’ section was answered with what amounted to ‘You’re going to Varuna! That should be useful!’ – both of which are true, but neither of which gives me any clue as to the MS’s future prospects beyond that residency. Imagine I wasn’t going to Varuna. What would she have said then? Well. Now I know. And as horrible as it is to hear, and as lousy as I feel right now, I am still glad I asked. Forewarned is forearmed, and I think I was letting my imagination run far, far away from the much more sobering reality, which is that I am nowhere near there.
The assessor said that she felt when she last saw it that my MS still doesn’t have the ‘something special’ that can make the difference. I’ve done another draft since that time, but what distresses me is the certain knowledge that if it didn’t have a glimmer of ‘something special’ then, it definitely doesn’t now. There was no seismic shift between the 4th draft and the 5th. I grafted, I took her criticisms on board, and I tried my hardest to make positive changes to it, but it’s still recognisably the same MS. Whatever it lacked then it lacks now, of that I’m quite sure. And I’m upset because I honestly do not know how much further I can go with it. You have NO IDEA how hard I’ve been trying to get it up to scratch. I’ve really torn myself apart trying to bring it to life, and if that doesn’t show, or if it shows but just doesn’t make the grade, then… I don’t know what else I’ve got to give to it. I was hoping to be able to latch onto something, some kernel, that elusive glimmer, the sense that if I just keep doing what I’m doing then it will get there, but truly, I just don’t know about that now. Of course I’m still going to go to Varuna, and I’m still going to throw myself completely into that experience and try and draw every last inch of value from my time there with Peter Bishop, of course. Nothing changes that. And if anything I’m better prepared after today than I was, because it’s amazing, and amazingly frightening, just what tricks your mind will play on you. Oh, the lush reveries I’ve allowed to flourish in idle, ever wishful moments. My favourite, which I shared with Miriam yesterday, was having Peter Bishop read my manuscript and call me ahead of my arrival at Varuna, because, you know, it just couldn’t wait, he HAD to tell me, immediately, that there had been a mistake, and that I didn’t need the residency at all. No, no, no, he loved it, it was great, and he loved it so much he was going to personally see to its publication… Ah, sweet, sweet fantasy (insert bursting bubble HERE).
Danger, danger, Will Robinson, danger.
Of course, there’s no fear I’ll breeze up to the Blue Mountains on that little cloud now. Nope, as my follow-up to Miriam today confirmed, I feel like I’ve just slid to the bottom of shit mountain instead. And it stinks. It just stinks. But aren’t I lucky I asked?! Imagine the nasty shock if I’d honestly allowed myself the delusion of thinking that Varuna might be the final assault on the mountain… I am bizarrely grateful for the adjusted perspective. I wouldn’t go so far as to say I’m enjoying it, this new landscape in which my MS still doesn’t have the smallest something that will set it apart, because I’m not, I feel fucked, but I do appreciate knowing where it stands.
I might tell you about the fabulous and fascinating Don Watson tomorrow, because I don’t really want to sully today’s Lowy Lunch with what came before it. It’s a testament to the quality of those sandwiches that I was able to eat anything at all.