Writers like to joke about their work. Usually how little they manage to do as they search endlessly for the creative genius that will catapult them onto global best seller lists.
One way of avoiding putting words to paper is to ‘work’ on your author platform via Twitter, Instagram, Facebook, Pinterest, whatever will get you into the public eye. The myth is this activity will get you noticed, hopefully by agents or publishers desperately looking for a new hit and there is a chance your name is the one they are going to investigate.
My morning sport is to check on my fellow scribblers and see what distractions they have come up with. Amongst my wanderings last week I came across this question: What’s the title of the current chapter of your life?
No brainer. My fingers typed the response before my brain got there: Fighting the blues. And winning. Mostly.
The blues for me, is a desolate landscape, littered with shapeless mounds, lumps of bodies, ghosts flitting between them, determined I should define my future by the past. It is a battle that at times overwhelms and causes a paralysis that keeps me from any productivity.
I am put in mind of Moses during a battle against the Amalekites found in Exodus 17. As long as he held up his hand the Israelites prevailed, and when he dropped it, the Amalekites prevailed. Aaron and Hur came to the rescue and held up his hands so Israel eventually won the day.
Another analogy that always makes me laugh is found in Isaiah 35 v 3: Strengthen the weak hands, and make firm the feeble knees. It is such a vivid and real image of how I frequently feel. Paul puts in another way in Hebrews 12 v 12: Therefore strengthen the hands which hang down, and the feeble knees.
Such sage advice, but how in times such as these, when two questions dominate?
‘If’ is a big word. So is ‘when’. Put them together and you have uncertainty doubled. It is hard to keep moving forward with ‘if’ and ‘when’ hanging over our heads. It’s all very well to say: ‘live in the moment’, but to effectively do so, we need to have some idea where that moment will lead us.
This time of separation and fear has taken its toll. We are almost through it and I believe many of us are tired. Tired of being vigilant against crossing the border into fear and despair, tired of playing our part in encouraging those around us to endure, tired of not knowing the end and the outcome, tired of being unable to plan.
The opposite of despair is hope, and all over the world as days pass in relentless and often fruitless progression hope flags. There is a strange parody that accompanies this: the days drag but time moves fast.
I realise part of my sorrow is all that I have not done in this time, the sense of loss is due to my own failure to achieve all I set out to do with such determination that first week of lockdown. I have said before, I have a masters in procrastination, and I have refined the art further these past months.
I know I have a choice. I can walk that land, look at the bodies, remember the pain. Or I can give them a fitting memorial, learn the lessons, and walk into a future filled with hope. I can discard the persona that I have allowed life to develop in me, and change the parts I don’t like. No one says I have to stick with this. It’s a wrangle, for as much as I detest the blues, there is a part of me that revels in the misery of it all.
And therein lies the rub.
If I am to defeat this foe, I need to look him squarely in the eye, and shout ‘No More you time thief!’
Time to defy the habits of decades, lift up my hands, strongly, stiffen the feeble knees, straighten my shoulders and move confidently into the future, regardless of what might happen, if and when!