These days, if you see me and ask how I am, I’ll say that I’m fine. And I’m lying. I’m lying through my teeth. But what is the alternative? When is it ever a good time to tell the truth about how you’re feeling, when you happen to be lost, in the darkest depths of depression? How do you tell the truth, when you can’t find the words to tell the story of yourself, to yourself? The truth is, depression has made me reclusive. And I’m so very lonely. Solitude I can deal with. Solitude I can enjoy. But not loneliness. That’s the real kicker, the real killer, when you long to hear a friendly voice, but cannot ask, dare not ask, for anything. I’m isolated. Desolate. Broken. Being with other people is physically and psychologically exhausting. But I have to get on with it: I have responsibilities. So when I must, I put on the mask, the polish that makes me look like…me. And I get on with it. Thank god for lipstick.
But there are the days when I am not obliged to put on the mask, or at least, not straight away. These are the days when I pay for the expenditure of positive energy; when I absolutely cannot move from my bed. I cry, and cry, until exhausted enough to doze a while, and then I wake and cry again. And then I get up, and transform into me – with a great deal of effort, rather than the ting! of a fairy godmother’s wand – and go out to collect my daughter from school. Thank god for lipstick.
2014 has not been an easy year, and I am thankful that soon I will be done with it, and can begin again. Time to make something better out of what has been broken.
Having said that, a few rather lovely things did happen this year; most notably my youngest brother getting married in Portugal, and having three stories accepted and published. Yay!
Yes, three. The third went up on Boxing Day, at Zouch Magazine. It’s a sort of fairy tale, about what happens after the fairy tale ending fails to live up to expectation. Which, really, is rather apposite. Life imitates Art? Art mirrors Life… Anyway, click on this link, and you can read it, if you want to. I do hope that you enjoy it, and that Christmas has been kind to you.
By the time you read this, I will have decided absolutely, categorically, whether or not I will be doing NaNoWriMo this year. I’ve been umming and ahhing for the last three weeks, veering crazily between bring it on, and hell no.
The last time I did it was November 2011, an important transitional month, in which I turned 40, went to Paris in the middle, and fell down the rabbit hole of depression. Turning 40 was actually pretty good, and I fell in love with Paris. But I’m still somewhere down that rabbit hole. And a lot has changed very recently, that means LIFE is just too big and complicated, and important to put to one side right now, in favour of churning out 50000 words. Besides, I still haven’t got to where I want to be with the stories – and the WIP – that I already have in progress. (And the same can be said of Life, right now, too.)
But, on the other hand, there is something rather seductive about the madness that can set in, with that need to find at least 1667 words each day. Some days the words will come, will flow, will flood, a racing spate of inspiration. And some days the words will hide, just out of view, out of reach, and the overload of caffeine does nothing more than jangle the nerves, makes me hideously irritable, and sets tremors in my hands.
12.04 a.m. What will it be? Yes? Or no?
Eeny meeny miney mo…
Last weekend I was in Portugal, to celebrate my youngest brother’s wedding. It was a joyfully beautiful occasion, in a beautiful location, with beautiful people. I wore purple shoes, and red lipstick, and I danced the night away with the new friends I made. The sunset was amazing.
My brother has always worn his heart on sleeve, despite the risks. His closest, dearest friends admire him for this bravery. And now at last he is truly happy. And I am so happy for him. And I admire my little brother, because wearing my heart on my sleeve is a thing I have been unable to do for a very long time. I doubt I ever will again. I fear to give myself away. And I think, perhaps, that this is partly why I write. I might give myself away in fiction, but fiction gives me some distance from the things I cannot otherwise say. I know that I cannot be the only one who does this, among the writers I know. And who, among those who read what I write – and who knows, even like what I write – can say with any degree of certainty which detail is personal, and which is not. To borrow from Margaret Atwood, only I can say how large – or small – is the blood transfusion given to the Ginger Bread Man, in order that he may live, and run.
Last Monday my no-stories-published streak of two years was broken – hurrah! Thank you, those of you who read it, and told me that you liked it. (If you’d like to read it, It’s called The Stars Shone Just For Me, and it’s a little bit magical, and a little bit strange.) After so many months of doubt and fear it’s been a huge boost. And do keep going back and looking at ink sweat and tears because they publish seriously lovely poetry and prose every day.
Last Friday, the wonderful, but oh so sadly shortly closing The View From Here published another of my stories – but I was too unwell to publicise it properly. Until now. So, tadah! It’s called Art, and you can read it here. It’s a romantic and surreal little piece about being hopeful, and looking at Art, and how sometimes, Art looks back at you. And it’s set in Tate Modern. I hope you like it.
And so, the Summer is almost done, for which I am grateful. Autumn is beginning to pick leaves off the trees, odd ones here and there, to get us used to the idea that soon they will be drifting down with a sound like falling rain. So change must come.
In the meantime, I only went and had two stories accepted (At last! At last! And there has been bouncing and squeaking and even a celebratory glass of prosecco or three), the first of which can be read over here at Ink, Sweat And Tears as of today.
Anyway, thoughts have been thought, and ideas come up with, and sometimes retained, but mostly discarded. And the ones that stick I will discuss another time, because it is getting late and I have to run away for the school run. Literally, in fact.