I celebrated last week’s family day-care commencement by starting work on a completely new story. Who knows where it shall lead, but I have 2,500 words to show for the two days I had to myself last week, and I should really be capable of producing more in the coming weeks, especially since I shared the writing time last week with an assortment of other appointments. If I can only keep jealous guard of my Thursdays and Fridays from now on, I’m hoping to make reasonable progress on the thing.
I tell you what, though: it is soooo invigorating, working on something new. I suppose it’s no surprise I feel leaden whenever I open up the MS shrapnel (boom tish), but I hadn’t appreciated the difference until I hit upon my first entirely clean slate in…well, in years… oh, the blessed freedom. I know the blank page can often feel overwhelming, but isn’t it also blazing with potential? I haven’t stuffed anything up yet, have I, and there’s a great sense of renewal when you finally realise that you can, in fact, simply open up a new blank Word doc and start again. I feel positively girlish about it all.
The other reason I am giggling behind my hand is that I have finally, gratefully accepted that I am not a writer motivated by dark materials – not by natural inclination at least. I only figured out by doing a PhD that I am not a born academic writer, and the same has proven true of the gritty and the grim. There was quite a bit of heavy stuff in the old MS, and, if I am to be brutally honest, I was posturing when I wrote it.
I think the gloom descended thanks to some residual ‘tortured artist’ routine I still rather fancied at the time. I wanted to be taken seriously, and out of that I think I came to feel the material had to be suitably dire in order to match my gravity of purpose. More than that, I made the fatal error of taking myself too seriously as well. In a way now it’s like letting go of a youthful self – all that sharp-edged angst and dread intensity so characteristic of one’s first forays into adulthood… it almost deserves a small ceremony down by the harbour. I should release the paper lantern of my youth and watch it float away. You know, I have enormous nostalgia and affection for that time now it is so far behind me, but Christ, all that misery at the time was exhausting. And reinhabiting that kind of costume for the purposes of writing the manuscript was exhausting too. I am so happy to shrug it all off that by comparison working on the new MS feels like… dancing.
So that’s good, although less glowing was Master J’s day 2 report card from family day-care. Not that there were any problems per se, just that he was a bit more unsettled and sleepless and clingy. Apparently day 2 blues is a very common setback, and it makes sense; they’ve figured out that if they’re back for another day then whatever is happening isn’t a one-off thing. It’ll be interesting to see what happens tomorrow morning when he returns. As for me, I’ll race back for another spin on the dance-floor.