Most Wednesdays I go to a café in my local town. I take my large bag stuffed with notebook, pens, glasses and fully charged net book. It’s a chance to get out of the house and I reckon, if it’s good enough for JK, it’s good enough for me.
I wasn’t going to go yesterday. I can do no more to my dissertation until it comes back from the proof-reader and I’m not ready yet to push on and finish the novel. But the kids are on half-term and if there’s ever a good time to get out of the house, it’s when they’re at home. Not that I don’t love them dearly, you understand, it’s just that even the best aunties need a break from the squabbling and the constant refrain of ‘I’m bored.’
Anyway, I wandered about town, unused to not being weighed down on one side by writing paraphernalia, and ran a few errands. Then, it was time for the ritual latte. Did the café staff notice my smaller bag? Did they notice that instead of sitting, staring blankly, at a computer screen or notebook, I was sitting, staring blankly at the Telegraph crossword? Well, yes, they did. And they asked about it. I shared the great news that I had finally written my dissertation etc., etc. and went back to my crossword but I couldn’t concentrate. You know what I’m going to say don’t you?
For the last four months, that damn dissertation has filled my mind. I have suffered chronic eye strain from working too long on the laptop and my anxiety has reached critical levels. Whatever I’ve done, I’ve thought/worried about my story. I’ve woken several times a night and laid in the dark plotting my next paragraph and felt guilty for watching Jeremy Kyle instead of working… Now, it’s done. It’s nice to have my mind back, to find space in my thoughts for other things but, guess what? It’s only been a couple of days and… I miss it! My mind is always like a rat in an exercise wheel – running, running, running and lately it’s done a marathon. You’d think it would be lying in the bottom of the wheel going ‘thank God that’s over,’ but no, its pacing round it’s cage desperate to get running again. Wish I could send it away on holiday.
At least I can look forward to when my work comes back to me for correcting and assembling for the binders. I still have to create a contents page and I can’t wait. When it’s all done, I’ll be just like Stitch. If you’ve ever seen the film, Lilo and Stitch , you’ll remember the tragic scene where a sad Stitch wanders alone into the woods, looks up at the sky and howls, ‘ LOST!’
So, between finishing my dissertation and finding the chance to write the rest of the story, I may take to stumbling around the countryside wailing like that small furry alien. If you’re in the West Country and you come across a howling middle-aged woman, don’t be afraid, just give me another deadline to focus my mind.
PS. On the positive side I received my copy of Umber when I got home. My story, The Tattooed Earl, looks very fine and I’m chuffed to bits. Umber is available online at http://larkinpress.sanm.hull.ac.uk/index.php/wh/issue/view/22 where you can download it and read all the great pieces by us talented lot from the uni.
I should warn the sensitive that The Tattooed Earl does contain very strong language…