I like myself so much better when I’m writing fiction. It isn’t that I feel I am good at it. I get completely lost in it, I don’t think about whether it is any good or not, I don’t care about the possibility that it is all crap and will never be good enough for anybody else to read. It is only when I come to read over it, to edit it, that it occurs to me that have written hundreds of thousands of words of complete and utter nonsense. And that causes me to panic, full physical heart-racing stomach-churning cold-sweat panic.
So I dawdle. I allow myself to become distracted by other things. Stuff to do with other people. Stuff for other people. But this makes me like myself less, because I don’t get lost in it, I do care very much about whether it is any good or not. And in the end, everything I do for other people feels like a little act of treachery; it is never nearly as good as it might have been.
It’s not that I have some chronic self-esteem problem, it’s just that I fuck up almost everything I do. This isn’t self-pity (it might be, I’ll tell you in a minute), it’s not that I imagine I am a bad or worthless person, but I make a cup of tea and it’s a small miracle if I manage not to spill boiling water or milk or blood. And that’s not very funny when it’s true, actually. Okay, so it is a quite funny, sometimes. But other times it causes no end of hassle, costs energy, sometimes money and generally pisses everyone off.
And it is me. It is, in part, my doing. For example, I do have poor co-ordination, which I can’t help. If I had really appalling co-ordination I would not attempt to pour boiling water into a mug to make tea, but it’s not that bad. And if I put every ounce of my concentration into the task at hand, I am less likely to spill things. I will still spill things, but less often. Thus, none of the ways in which I fuck up are completely and utterly out of my hands, whether it is to do with co-ordination, or short term memory, or absent-mindedness, or any other aspect of cognitive dysfunction and fatigue. So I am failing, me, failing, not just my wiring. Several times a day, every day. The more I do, the more I fail at. Not just practical stuff, but social stuff too and, of course, my writing.
Which, thankfully, isn’t particularly off-putting, not after ten years. The only things it stops me doing are those where the cost is very high, or where I am likely to put myself or others in danger, like if I got behind the wheel of a car, for example.
However, it does impact on the bigger picture, this chronic state of rubbishness. Always trying not to be rubbish. Always afraid of being rubbish. And always fucking up, often in ways I don’t understand.
Oh misery me! You still here? Yes, sorry, it was self-pity, after all.
I know I am holding myself back. This is getting silly really, the time I have spent on this Bloody Fucking Book. Especially this stage, which this winter has mostly been held up by such feelings not the Lurgy, which has been relatively kind to me; the first winter in many years which has not invited a significant relapse. Okay, small matter of house move, but you know I'm still doing pretty well. I put enough crap up here. If the best book I can write is complete pants, then I really have to find out sooner rather than later. Or simply give up and think or something else to do with my time on Earth.
Ah, but that’s the other thing, isn’t it? If there is absolutely no possibility of making a living out of writing, then there is absolutely no possibility of making a living out of anything. In my melodramatic moments, I feel my life depends on this. Which is as good a reason as any to postpone the great revelation, if indeed I am due such a revelation.
Nah. It must be doable; half the stuff I read is complete pants anyway, there must be room on the bookshelves of the world for me. And even if this one is pants and nobody will touch it with a barge-pole-length bookmark, at least I’ll know then I can write a book and then I can write another one which will be better. Or more saleable. I’m sure I could make up some crap about Wizards or the Catholic Church – perhaps Wizards in the Catholic Church. Or better still, Wizzard in the Catholic Church. The Pope, desperate to improve the Church’s image, employ the glam rock band Wizzard to come up with ideas. They sing, “I wish it could be Christmas everyday.” And so they make it Christmas every day (when the kids start singing and the band begins to play). And all the priests and bishops start wearing glitter and platform shoes. But somehow it all goes horribly wrong. Uh… because… of… someone with a French accent, a nasty scar and a limp, obviously! Come on, you'd buy it out of kindness.
In a bit of a hole about the book, just now. It's all such tremendous crap.