I know, I know. I’ve been away, and I shouldn’t have. You were up to date with the Malaysian break, and then the Indian staycation when my friend Jackie flew in the week after from Seattle? Cool. Well, all being well I should have been back at things the very next week. Instead it’s two and a half weeks later, and there has been ominous silence. So what happened?
I was struck by two of the most insidious maladies known to man, that’s what. They were:
This is a completely real condition that writers get, which I have just made up, but which is completely real anyway.
People often incorrectly refer to this condition as Writer’s Block. Now Writer’s Block (WB), we can all agree, is a complete fiction. It’s nonsense, and writers are well aware that this is the case. There is no magic storytelling hole in our brains that gets all gummed up with anti-creativity gunk. That just doesn’t happen. When a writer tells you that they have WB, they are only doing so in order to shut you up and make you go away. It’s like a secret weapon. Somebody bugging you about the things you’re writing? Tell them you have Writer’s Block and watch their eyes widen in dim horror better saved for neurosurgeons who have lost the use of their fingers. They will withdraw in solemn understanding almost immediately.
I probably shouldn’t have told you that we do that. The other writers will be cross.
Scriptus Infecterruptus, on the other hand, is very real even though I just made it up. This is when compelling thoughts get stuck in your head, and keep drawing your attention away from what you should be writing. They have to be compelling thoughts, and there have to be a lot of them. Sometimes they can be brought on by a specific trauma, but usually they’re just the flotsam and jetsam of life. Writers can often put these aside for long enough to concentrate on a story, but every now and again…
The Malaysia/Jackie adventure marked (in my head) the end of our time here in India. We’re now counting down until we move back to the UK in a couple of months. That’s quite a big thing. There’s lots to be done, but surprisingly little of it can be done right now. Those things that can’t be done right now were spinning around in my head, with nowhere to go. They were piling up, those things. While they didn’t bring my writing to an absolute standstill, they made it tough to focus. They infected my head, and interrupted my flow.
This is Scriptus Infecterruptus in action. I worked out the instant cure for this condition years ago, but Scriptus Infecterruptus distracts you even from remembering things like that. After a week and a half of beating my head against the keyboard, I remembered what I needed to do.
I activated GIDOWITHD,
As well as sounding as pleasingly Welsh as anything Welsh-sounding can ever sound, this stands for Get It Done Or Write It The Hell Down.
I took a day to do the couple of things that I could, when I really thought about it, get done right now. Everything else got written down – with dates and bring ups.
And that’s it. That stuff is out of my head. The road is clear. I almost immediately finished off a draft of a short story and sent it off to an editor. I cast around for the very next bit of writing that was overdue, and then…
Last Thursday I developed a very sore throat. I could feel the swellings, like the tips of demonic horns poking through soft palate. I straightaway anticipated a heavy cold a-brewing (maybe even an entire man-flu).
On Friday and Saturday I had an extremely sore throat. Swallowing was difficult and very painful, and various combinations of Ibuprofen, Paracetamol, and Aspirin only took the very edge off it. An infection of some sort, maybe?
On Sunday it turned into full blown tonsillitis.
I’ve never had tonsillitis before. I may owe an apology to previous sufferers. I mean, I always knew it was a thing, just not this much of a thing. It’s like all the most memorable parts of a migraine, acute toothache, inner earache, and an infected throat, all rolled through broken glass and set on fire inside your actual neck. I’m sure that this is the sort of pain that you can’t actually remember much about after the fact. That’s the only explanation I can think of for why we aren’t all living in constant fear that tonsillitis could happen to any of us at any time.
I couldn’t swallow at all. The muscles worked, but the pain reflex was too strong. I couldn’t make myself do it. Instead I ate nothing for three days and drank little, so was weak and dehydrated on top of everything else. I couldn’t speak (this may be why we forget how bad tonsillitis is – at the very moment when it’s at its worst and we could tell people about the agony, it silences us). I stumbled around in a state of constant ‘cower’, waiting for the next jab of random agony. Painkillers dulled things just enough to let me sleep, but only at the height of their four hour cycle. As soon as they started to wear off the pain woke me up and left me to stare at the clock for long hours until I could take more.
It’s been unpleasant, is what I’m saying. I’m not halfway through a course of antibiotics that are killing everything inside me in a sort of nuclear approach to the problem. I can’t tell whether they’re working or whether the infection is running its course (Google says it should clear up on its own after five days, but this is lasting a little longer).
So if you want to know where I’ve been for the last few days, I’ve been tucked into a sort of barbed cocoon full of hot pain, exhaustion, and misery. Before I get accused of turning this into a pity party… OF COURSE this is a pity party! This freaking SUCKS! I’ve been in constant freaking agony!
To sum up, the last couple of weeks have been an absolute disaster. Bear with me. I’m going to ease back into things over the next couple of days, and hopefully all will be back to normal after the weekend. I hope so, anyway. The number of things I want to get done while still in India is insensibly long, and time is running out. Losing three weeks is bad. Very bad.
Pressure’s on now.