Write until you drop

I am thinking about writing. I am thinking about what I can write, and how I can make that more a part of my future.

I am thinking about honesty.

Whenever I start a new writing project, I get a sudden rush of other, excellent ideas for other, excellent projects.

It’s like Jesus encountering the devil in the desert, or Buddha facing the three spirits of temptation under the bodhi tree. These tempters look just like the real thing. So close, you can smell it – the faint, sweet smell of happiness.

Happiness is just one of the core evolutionary emotions, and it doesn’t even last that long.

Satisfaction, completion. To start and to finish. To speak and to write. These are my structures. These are the things that will take me the days and hours when I am not busily facilitating bubba’s life. Life is too short to spend in determined silence.

Keep. Going. Go.

I keep waking up happy

I keep waking up happy. It’s spooky. It’s as if someone has been doing a nightly operation on me, someone like Elijah Wood in Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind. Instead of messing with my memories, my night gnome takes my DNA and examines the anxiety gene very, very closely. She turns it over, considering it. She assesses its long-term utility to the common good of the other amino acids in the chain. Will it help the group survive? Or has the balance turned against it; has it outserved its calculus of usefulness?

She is a scientist, my night gnome. She is conducting an experiment.

Every day, I wake up happy. But I go to bed worrying about little things, like, will I be able to cope with looking after my baby all day by myself? And throughout the morning, I might wonder, is this going OK? Should I be playing with her more? Should I be doing something else, something that members of the capable mums club know to do? Should I close that door, get her a drink of water, try to get something else done, be more productive?

Then I snaggle my worries on her little face, turned to me with a wide grin. I don’t need to close the door. I don’t need to be or do anything else right now. Things seem to be going quite fine.

Something has happened in the pits of my brain where the self-esteem lives. Someone gave it flowers. Someone said to it, you are actually doing pretty well, but thanks for asking.

An instance of the experiment: we are currently hiring a babysitter. I resisted the temptation to tidy up, or do anything out of the ordinary routine. This is how we do it, I was saying. And it’s OK. That gave me a warm feeling inside and the white hairs on my head seem to bristle with pride, thinking, finally, she is growing into her own wisdom.

I think the fact that I am doing this PhD in writing is one of the experimental catalysts. Someone believing in me and my writing is like someone saying that my way of going about the world is valid.

Another, far more serious part of life right now: my sister is in hospital, and things are not going well. But I feel good about my sisters and brother, all of whom are caring, concerned and actively helping her. At other times, I would have felt completely alone with this. Now I feel like she is supported, and therefore so am I.

Hope is strange; it has a strange effect on your brain, like sun after a night so long you hardly dared believe it would ever, ever end. You reach out as if you could touch the light, but you are afraid that by doing so you will find out it is nothing more than an illusion of your encroaching mind.

Continue the experiment. I am.

On permission

It comes back to this, doesn’t it?

It occurs to me that I am being paid to write what I want to, for the first time in my life. I have a PhD scholarship. They even gave me a bit extra, thanks to my university medal, garnered all those years ago. I still remember giggling like it wasn’t that important, but being disappointed when the Vice Chancellor forgot to announce us medallists. The mollified master of ceremonies regrouped with a round of applause once we were already back in our seats.

I used to walk with a sloping gait, shoulders hunched modestly. I am so short that I don’t really need to stoop, but I used to anyway. Now I have to walk stock straight, because of my aged knees. My husband calls for my goosestep as I march downhills, bottom out and knees bent slightly, taking the pressure in my quads, changing the physical habits of a lifetime of pretending to be not as smart or talented as I really may be, just in case I wasn’t loved because of it.

Such a girl thing. So cliched. But there it is.

And here is this PhD supervisor, a lovely, encouraging, supportive person. So smart. So well regarded. Here she is, in her office at the university, in a building that looks reasonably new, showing that other people, people in power, people with money, take writing seriously. And here she is, taking me seriously. Urging me to start writing immediately. Telling me to create a safe space for my writing so I can write whatever I want. Suggesting that I get my ideas, memories down.

She trusts my process.

Can I?

Well, I will start like this. Goosesteps up and down the hill. Time, each day, to write for myself. I will write as poorly as possible. I will write.