Things have been busy at work of late, which means that spare time normally dedicated to writing has been spent in mindless exhaustion. But I haven’t been completely unproductive. I finally watched 30 Rock (after abandoning it years before), the last season of Weeds, and Jane Campion’s fantastic mini-series Top of the Lake. Oh, and let’s not forget the books … these days there is more reading than ever. Recent readings I’d personally recommend include Burial Rites (Hannah Kent), Ghost Moth (Michele Forbes), The Narrow Road to the Deep North (Richard Flanagan) and The Signature of All Things (Elizabeth Gilbert).
The past few days I’ve been suffering through a dreaded bout of flu which left me feeling as weak as a kitten’s forearms and having to take some time off work. While being sick is never fun, the break from my usual weekday activities gave me some bonus time to think … about my life, my writing and the significance of all this reading. I’ve always surrounded myself with books, but I can’t recall ever reading at such frenetic pace. I wondered about the reason for this fictional frenzy.
From somewhere within the murky fogginess of my sickness-addled mind, a strange sort of clarity emerged. I finally understood that amongst all those pages and between all those lines, the elusive something I’ve been searching for is hope.
Finding the answer also helpfully exposed the cause. I realised that I’d lost all hope. Like the miserably persistent drizzle of cold winter rain endured without the protection of umbrella or raincoat, I’d allowed hopelessness to settle on my shoulders and soak right through to my bones. Suddenly I saw just how low I’d become.
But then everything changed. In much the same manner that a wet dog will enthusiastically shake itself side-to-side from nose to tail, until every last drop of water is scattered far and wide; just like that I felt better. The way forward now seems a little clearer and a lot more hopeful.
So all of this thinking has found me here – sitting outside, pondering these thoughts, stretching my toes in the sun and enjoying a slice of buttered fruit toast. As I open the cover of my next book – The Luminaries by Eleanor Catton – I’m starting to feel more focussed and like the worst of this flu is behind me. I shall try to hold onto this moment and remember not to give up on myself (or my writing) so easily, especially when another band of dark rain clouds threatens to obscure my open horizon.