I have lectured myself about winter blues; about being physically and mentally tired after finishing the French Novel, not to mention the challenges of the Easington project; about using up my usually overflowing Ideas Basket; about the need for fallow time to give my mind a chance to spring back into place.
I acknowledged all that but it was painful to be in the middle of it. It struck me that writing is my one steady and true life-companion and I’m lonely without her. I am addicted to her deadlines and there is the possibility that the rolling deadlines - the organising feature of my life - are one way in which I feed that need.
I have my reasons for feeling used up. At the centre is the unique nature of the French Novel, where I explored the depths of my odd perceptions of time, space and life after death. These things are there at the core of my story of needy and funny Starr, of wise Modeste, and the miraculous boy Tib.
Perhaps I needed more recovery time after completing this novel than any other.
I tried to leave the write-stop (my new name for w.b…) alone. After all, there was Christmas and New Year with its baubles, presents and presentiments. There were my delightful and absorbing visitors. And there was the beautiful snow – although that was (and continues to be) an unwelcome and disabling visitor.
Then there was the afternoon by the fire with Debora sorting out old family photographs – particularly of her grandmother Barbara - so she could have copies. (You will note that the pictures of Barbara, inspired my previous, heartfelt post here.)
and the only one out of uniform in sixth form groups,
One very special snap emerged from the higgledy piggeldy pile - of myself at 11 with my older sister and younger brother in front of the door of the house we lived in then. My sister is wearing a flowered dress. I am wearing a dress in violet blue taffeta with a broderie anglaise trim on the collar and a ruched cummerbund. On my feet are inappropriate white, canvas plimsolls. I am thin. My arms and legs are stick-like.
I turned the snap over and there in a schoolgirl’s round hand is written. ‘I am in the flowered dress. The other girl is my sister.’
The Other Girl Is My Sister! Now there is a good title for a short story. Or a novel…
… and Bang! The the writer’s block /write-stop is gone.
I have gone from stop to GO. Debora and Barbara have done the trick.