I should be feeling pretty good right now; one of my stories Sirius Rising, which is very dear to me, is sitting on Ether Books Best seller list and I have just finished in 2nd place overall in the six round Slingink Slam judged by the very talented Nik Perring. The Best of the Whittaker Prize – Body Parts & Coal Dust is out containing three of my stories and I’ve had some very positive feedback about them and I look like I’ll be finishing the year in 5th place in the Literary League on the weekly Write-Invite competition, which after 49 rounds is very gratifying. Yes, life should be good.
In my own insular and self-contained fashion, I have never been a great seeker or cultivator of friendships, preferring instead to remain in my isolated writer’s eyrie somewhere on the periphery of life. I have convinced myself that it was all the better to observe it that way and my somewhat nomadic life from the age of 17 reinforced this by allowing me to choose to be notoriously bad at keeping in touch with people. I often think that’s very strange for a writer and one who, as a kid, had a small army of pen-friends dotted about the globe. The top and bottom of it is, I just got lazy– even with lightning fast communication in its myriad forms at my fingertips. Keeping in touch was always something I just never got around to.
In less than three weeks my life has turned completely, unexpectedly and quite frankly, totally inexplicably on its head. This change has delivered a monstrously large dollop of unimaginable pain. I have gone from being on top of the world about my writing successes, sanguine about my failures and excited about the future to being submerged in despair topped with a thick layer of anger.
My writing has stopped dead in its tracks and instead of planning my assault on next year’s competition season as I should be doing, and preparing my novel for pitching. I find my mind suffused with the writer’s neurosis that I’ll never string a coherent sentence together again and as blank and grey as a piece of freshly hewn slate. Oh, I’m conscious of recording every little stab of the ice-pick that keeps driving itself into my heart together with all the shades and nuances of my anger and uncertainty, but that’s as far as it goes. I am hoping, well praying really, that when the fog of my own particular nightmare clears, I will be able to take these disparate thoughts and observations and weave something positive out of them
I read a quote of Margaret Atwood’s somewhere ages ago which went something like this:
“Good writing starts where there’s a knot.”
I’m finishing the year with a whole nest of them, so I am hanging on to this thought and hoping she’s right.
And this brings me back to friendships. In the midst of feeling very sorry for myself, a few days ago I had a couple of lovely emails from friends, one of whom I haven’t seen for many, many years and one from a friend in another country, whom I have never actually met. Another very dear friend texts me every day just to see how I’m doing. Individually and collectively they have lifted me immeasurably and are keeping me from sinking into the permanent penance of regret.
It took a major league life crisis to bring it home to me just how wonderful friends really are. Indeed, over this last couple of weeks, I have come to fully understand the value of true friendships and of the many folks who have put up with my patchy and often non-existent communication over the years. It is their friendship which is helping me stay strong right now even when I don’t want to. They are my reason to end this year being thankful and it is they who will ultimately help me unravel the knots.
I love you all.