Tuesday, 11 March 2014

Having a cold at least means I can let my imagination go…

Dear all, you may have heard me moaning in the last couple of blogs, like the typical man wuss I am, about how I’ve had a cold this week. It’s been a real pain because at first I thought it was just a 24/48 hour thing, but it turned into three days in bed with a headache, earache, toothache and sneezing…so, yes just a normal cold. Had I been in a job the obligatory ‘I’m dying’ phone call into the boss would have meant a few days off work. As it is, I am not employed and I am using my savings up to live in Spain for a little while, both as a break and an experience and in order to test my ability to write. So although I didn’t like being ill before, I really don’t like being ill now as it feels terrible to lose precious days out of this one year of escape.
                  Aside from the general unpleasantness of being unwell something else got to me, I had nearly three full days of thinking time, I felt unable to write or to go out so instead I just thought about what I was doing this year and of course being unwell didn’t lead to nice thoughts! I became a little depressed, wondering what I was playing at doing this trip. I doubted every word I had put down since being here, every idea for a story, every character, every plot twist, my vocabulary, my expressions, my descriptions…on and on it went, a mental dressing down. I questioned why I was continuing to try, maybe I should quit and go home, and maybe I should rethink everything…
                  Then I started to feel better. What a change of mood! From being miserable and doubting practically everything about myself except my age and name…the head cleared, the sneezes and toothache stopped…a sense of wellbeing returned. Fantastic.
                  I’m not saying I suddenly believe I’m the next literary sensation, I didn’t think that before and I don’t think it now, but my self-belief is back and with it the energy and will to write, thank goodness. I have so much to do!
                  Anyway, I ventured out for some much needed fresh air and a bit of the sun’s warmth today and I thought I’d share a few pics. I sat reading the Kindle for a couple of hours and it was just the tonic. It’s great to feel part of the world again and I’m looking forward to cracking on with some work.

Sunbathing with my Kindle...have I spent too much time alone? You decide...

Another thought came to me while I was out today that was a bit of a surprise. I was looking out at the lake and thinking how terrible the previous few days had been but that it was good that I had had a chance to think about things when I realised that people don’t often get a chance to sit on their backsides and just think about things. Not because we don’t want to, but we are busy, we have responsibilities that we can’t easily slack off from and ignore like when we were 18, they are important and people rely on us, we can’t not go to work, we can’t not look after our partners or our children or whatever. When was the last time you had the chance to just sit down and let your imagination run wild? I’m not talking about a half hour here and there on the train but that everyday normal life time you had as a kid when you could laze around and idly chit chat to your friends making up stuff and letting the world go by without concern?
The answer is probably not for a long time. We just don’t do it as adults, we always have our time filled, we always feel the need to do something and move on to the next task, or someone needs our time and attention.
                  It made me think back to my childhood when certain friends and I would enjoy making up our futures. It’s probably a common thing but I remember how fun it was to sit down and create these amazing universes where my friends and I would roam. Maybe we would be princes, or kings, or the rich owners of private islands or famous inventors...it always changed. We would sit there for hours just talking, running amok had its moments as well but I’m talking about when as kids we would spend entire days pushing the limits of our imagination.
                  So as I lay there unwell, those moments came to mind. I am away from home so I didn’t have my friends and family around to help me and distract me, or take me out, I couldn’t rent movies, or buy a disgustingly large take away order, I couldn’t take a bath*…I couldn’t do the things that I normally would to entertain me from whatever I was going through. Instead I had me, myself and I, and I spent the time (once I started feeling better that is) thinking about my stories, my characters and so on. It made me realise that I don’t take any time out anymore to just make up stuff. I am always thinking I should be doing something. And whether that is writing related, it doesn’t’ matter, I am working on the laptop or checking emails. I have not been that kid who has just sat down and talked all day about the goings on inside my imagination (and I’m including all day sessions on the beer here too) and I really miss that. I do, I really miss just having that sense of freedom to talk inanely and crazily and just explore where my mind takes me.
                  I’m going to make sure that in the future I make the time to just sit and think. I will purposefully NOT take my laptop, I will NOT take pen and paper, I WILL specifically make time to just think. I would like to have that sense of freedom of thought as I did when 7 or 8 or 9. Let me know if you try it too.

On a different note, what it also made me think about is how lucky I am and how much I need to work on the depression front. People have so many hardships to endure and there’s me shutting down for three days over a cold and slumping into an attitude of self-loathing and self doubt. It is such a cliché to be so condemning about my writing; I really do just need to get on with it. For those of you who produce work through thick and thin I admire you, I’m in awe of people who work with such discipline and focus no matter how difficult their personal lives are.
And for those of you who are going through a difficult time, I hope whatever it is you find the strength to get through it and whether it is a silly little cold like mine or a serious condition then don’t give up, don’t doubt yourself and if you feel down, speak to someone, read, seek help and just keep going.

*In case you were wondering I have a shower…I haven’t gone three months without washing.

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