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Day thirty-nine

December 9, 2016


This is the view from my desk this morning, dear reader. As pretty as it may look, this is not good. There is a reason this neck of the woods is called the temperate rainforest. It’s supposed to be temperate. This means winters are generally mild enough for a good Dickensian Brit like myself to not need a fire on during the day.

There are, of course, exceptions. The winter of 2008/09, when I’d brought Mike back to the island, it started snowing in December and did not stop until March. Actually that’s not quite true. We’d get a big dump of snow, after which it would eventually warm up enough to rain and melt the snow. It was at that point, just when it seemed the weather had returned to “normal” that we’d get another big dump of snow. And on and on for months. At various points the big dumps of snow would bring branches – or even trees – down on the power lines and we’d have another power failure.

As I’ve already mentioned, I cannot afford another winter like that. There is not enough wood in the shed to keep me going with fires in the daytime and evening. And the ridiculously expensive electric space heaters, do only that: warm a nearby space. Even if I could afford to have them all on (which I can’t), they cannot heat the house. Yet another reason why being poor sucks.

Anyway, anyway…

Nearly six weeks ago I set myself a task. I wanted to get back into the habit of writing something every day and apparently it took six weeks to establish a routine. Well, the count down’s started. After today there will be three more entries before the six weeks are up.

And then what?

What does “writing” mean? Is it simply the act of stringing words together to form sentences? Well, yes, in the most basic sense I suppose it does. And I have certainly managed that. The original goal of writing for at least fifteen minutes at the start of each day has, on most days, been much more than met.

What happens on Day 43? As much as it may have been my hope when I set out to write the Black Dog Diary that I might, magically on Day 43, suddenly felt able to pick up where I left off with one of my Tilly and Roger ideas, I don’t really think that’s going to happen next Tuesday. The mere thought of it, of opening one of those languishing documents and trying to carry on with the stories, fills me with dread. What if no words come?

A new, completely different novel, perhaps? Or even a less ambitious short story? Fine. But about what? Do I have any stories to tell? Well, clearly I do. It took me more than one day to write over 6000 words telling the story of one particular relationship. I’ve probably written, in various entries, considerably more words about the reality of living with Mike. But those lengthy entries were simply a matter of recording events. No need to tap into the dried up fictional part of my brain which once used to be overflowing with words and ideas.

What about letters? I know they’re not fiction, but they qualify as stringing words together to form sentences. I know it’s mad in these days of instant communication, of email (or even Skype), but I miss letters. I miss finding one waiting for me in the post box. Receiving a letter is an event in a way no email can ever be. Should that be my plan, beginning next Tuesday? Should I set about writing a letter every day to someone who might actually get their shit together to write a reply, find an envelope and a stamp, and return the favour. I can think off the top of my head of several people who just might enjoy exchanging proper letters once again. Hmm. That would take care of a week, so not a long term plan.

Simply carry on with the Black Dog Diary, disgorging random thoughts on a daily basis? That doesn’t seem right. But if not this, what?

That’s not just me asking myself a question. (I believe I’ve already admitted I don’t have an answer.) I know there are friends and strangers following me on this journey and I am asking you for ideas.

What the hell should I be writing next Tuesday?

Comments welcome below.

From → Black dog diary

  1. krysross permalink

    For a long time I’ve thought you should write something about your mum–a brave, strong, funny lady (perhaps it’s genetic?) with an interesting life. (Though another Tilly and Roger installment would be lovely). Roma really enjoyed both of your books and wondered when there’d be a third.

  2. Dave Innell permalink

    I have been reading your diary most days and the posts that I find most interesting are your autobiographical stories. This may just be my morbid curiosity about other people’s lives, but you seem to have had an interesting and varied life, and done and experienced many things, some of them very difficult and challenging.

    I am also aware that you have a passion for environmental issues, more from your rants than the diary. I assume that you were not born an environmentalist so there must have been learning and experiences that led you to where you today.

    Maybe you should take the pressure off yourself to write fiction and write more about your life and experiences. I realize that some of these may be difficult to write about, but they also seem to be compelling stories.

    So my suggestion would be to write an autobiography, and, if that is too ambitious right now, how about stories about your environmentalist journey.

  3. Irmani permalink

    I second the autobiographical stuff. If it comes easier than fiction – it’s good getting into the habit again, and it might just set off a few what ifs. Maybe a bit about New York?

    • Oddly enough, the short story I found on my computer the other day (the one I had no recollection of writing) was about New York.

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