Those are the words on my jotter. Feeling low, sad, the day looks like Russia. The land on the normally green Cotswold common above my home is frozen down to the core of the earth. It is grey. If it were an instrument, it would be a tuba played by a depressed duck. If it were a lady it would be Margaret Thatcher’s statue. If it were a food it would be that chicken breast at the bottom of your freezer the clingfilm fell off about seven and a half months ago and it looks like: today.
I am applying for jobs now, because I feel worthless. I am a writer. That’s what we do. We feel worthless and we apply for jobs. We are no good for anything, and the world knows that. A writer is like this: on the one hand, I think that anything Benedict Cumberbatch turns up for – an awards ceremony, a funny walks competition, a film about his dying grandmother – I COULD DO BETTER. On the other hand, everything I do, everything I think, even the air I breathe is just…wrong. I am rubbish. These two knowledges of my self go hand in hand. Also, today is a good hair day, so Cumberbatch better watch out. But also, I have looked at the work and my face has done that creasing up in sadness thing it does: like when I go for a walk and its too cold because the common is now Russia, and the dogs are yelping quietly with each step they take.
The only advice which is good advice in these circumstances is: push through. Don’t walk away and watch back episodes of Coronation Street, because the younger crowd and their made up faces and stupid storylines will make you feel like an embittered old drunk who has read the Daily Mail sidebar of shame all the way through. Sit there, in your chair and look at the work and read the work and write something. Anything. Draw lines with a ruler and a felt tip pen on your graph paper. Write a tiny episode of your childhood up as a flash fiction. Make a weeny card using all your cross hatching techniques and curly lettering which just says ‘You are great’ and send it to someone.
Eventually, something will come. You’ll write again: and your words will be what you wanted to say. You’ll read them back and you’ll think – I am so bloody good, I could kiss me. I could pat me on the head and say – well done, me, you fabulous creature. Eventually. That day may come.
I went into Waterstones today, and handled everyone’s hardback books. I convinced myself that they were easy – that everyone who was there, face out on that table, was just like me, felt just like me. It’s the ending of this process, I told myself. One day in June or July or September or May next year or the year after, I’ll be holding my book in my hand. I stepped out into Russia again, and I thought – PUSH THROUGH. It’s the only way. It’s all we have to do. That’s our life: push through.