One of the best things that’s happened to me recently is to have been ill for two weeks. If you think that sounds odd, bear with me for a moment. I thought I had bronchitis – evidently my internet-researched self-diagnosis was a little off the mark, but I swear I was sick as a parrot nonetheless, miserable enough to impersonate Donald Trump, and not at all unlike that Norwegian Blue of whom Monty Python spake: ‘THIS IS A DEAD PARROT!’ the purchaser declaimed. ‘Lovely plumage,’ demurred the seller.
Well, nailed to his perch the Pythonesque parrot might have been, but my watchword (while sick, and while in recovery too) was to avoid the office chair and the computer, and languish by the window instead, overlooking the front porch, taking in the light, such as it was, and the news, such as it was, and the TV, magazines, everything except serious reading, all the while exerting my poor vanishing little self as little as possible.
Not much writing going on, there. A novel in hiatus. And all perfectly understandable, right? Get better to write better. Don’t jeapordise your health, my friend, get better first and then you can get on with things. With the novel – the masterpiece – the whatever. You know?
Recuperation, over the past week or so, was followed (as the end of winter is accompanied by some grudging sort of thaw) by catching-up: as an unemployed sexagenarian (is that right?) missives to be sent out, resumes dispatched, people to be met and impressions to be made: at the very least, enough effort recorded to keep the EI cheques rolling (this is a joke, okay – I really am trying to find work. I mean jeez, last thing I need is to have Employment Insurance breathing down my neck).
Along with work-seeking there were tasks – not just a to-do list, but TASKS, folks – to be caught up: so today, for example, I exchanged messages with my daughter on WhatsApp, about the grandchild she is bearing and her immigration to Canada, transferred money electronically, called the South African Consulate about the forms to be submitted to retain my South African citizenship, found a copy of my birth certificate (did I mention, I am making an appearance in support of my application for Canadian citizenship on the 15th of March), read everything there was to be read about Super Tuesday in the US (Trump as Il Duce, blonde-helmeted and all), fired off another round of resumes, cleaned up my iTunes duplicates (yes, really) and – and what? Well, skulked, the last pair of evenings, feeling miserable and sorry for myself, because Rob was away in Winnipeg (business, folks, not pleasure, believe me) and I was alone at home with my depression and self pity and my – well, okay, let’s cut to the chase here – my writer’s funk.
Because anything – anything! – these past couple of weeks has seemed preferable to sitting back down to that novel, looking it in the eye, and getting to work (it’s funny how the thing you most want – okay, one of the things you most want – but not just any old thing – it’s writing, right? – is the thing you most fear).
For fear it is: fear of that big old, bad old, savage old beast who paces and snarls and shits in the basement. The blank page, the sense of my useless, feeble, writerly inadequacy, the wet, hungry disembowelling snout that sniffs at my entrails.
So – anyway – tomorrow – taking a deep, perhaps last breath – I will go down the carpeted steep stairs, into the office, and WRESTLE that bear.
Writing this blog post, I fear, won’t really cut it.