Back to work with a vengeance after more than two weeks off, I find myself inundated by the mundane, and at the same time, creatively inspired in new ways, a frustrating paradox of responsibility and the wish for freedom. During my travels, I was inspired to write a treatment for a new novel, one that deals with a specific moral dilemma and therefore doesn’t really depart from what I am doing at present in terms of consistency of theme. For the first time in a long time, I found it both easy to write the treatment, and very easy to find the narrative voice and start writing. It felt powerful, and liberating, to engage with a new character – even though I had no typerwriter or laptop and was writing entirely longhand in biro – something I despise, I write longhand with a fountain pen. Full of pleasure at the new story, I spent some five hours during the flight home writing, with a big smile on my face for much of the time. But returning home brought jet lag, laundry, and preparations for work, and work brought more work, deadlines and student needs, such that I had to park the new story and trust in the power of my own creativity and its ability to whether the storm of necessary distractions.
Having survived the first day back at work, memory issues notwithstanding, I spent my first evening recovering and catching up on some television, as I had neither the energy, inclination or concentration necessary to write. Today, rising early as usual to meander off into the misty dawn, ready for another day of teaching, interviews, admin, research . . . I felt much more like my usual self. And then it happened . . .
As I was driving down into the lovely Neath valley, a story appeared in my head – a great story, a silly story – maybe both – but still, a story, strong, deep, and powerful. With nothing else to occupy my mind for the remaining 30 minutes of the journey, I let my imagination run free with it. By the end of the drive, I had the majority of it fleshed out – until I hit my desk and it disappeared again into the ether. Luckily, I have retrieved enough of it (with the judicious help of writing my diary and listening to some Chopin). So here I am with yet another treatment to write, and another novel waiting for me to give it life. And I ask myself – why is it that the best stories come when I can’t spend a week drafting them out, and why is it also that I have many more ideas, characters and plots than there can possibly time to write? If I had a private income, a housekeeper, chauffeur and gardener, maybe I could do all these ideas justice. In the meantime, I feel like I am hobbling along, restricted by too many things from losing myself in my writing. In fact, I have got to the point where I think I may just book a week off work so that I can sit down and write and do nothing else. But life is relentless and I cannot spend it tucked away in a garret. Cats need feeding, bills need paying, and there are people I want to spend time with. So I will keep on going.
It almost got away today, but I just caught it at the tail end of its final dive, and pulled that story back in. I will add it to the future pile, and hope, really hope, I get the time to do it justice.
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