Twenty four hours after returning from hospital it dawned on me that this business of having my left foot swaddled in bandages and looking like an old colonel with gout was not going to change in a hurry. This is me now for the next month or two and it’s taking some getting used to. My normal mode is fast or very fast. But now the switch is stuck on crawl. If I go downstairs and forget my glasses, retrieving them is like the ascent of the North Face of the Eiger.
And having a bath or a shower involves putting my foot in a plastic bin liner and taping it to my leg. That part’s not so bad but getting the tape off again (and the eye-watering depilation that this involves) fills my heart with a new pity for the female of the species.
I am trying to wrench my mind back to the business of writing but it doesn’t want to know. It believes it’s owed some kind of treat in compensation for the pain it’s been having to put up with. It’s been insisting that I watch lots of tv. But that has got to stop. It’s time to get that foot up on the desk next to the computer screen and start easing myself back into the current piece of fiction.
One never really wants to write. That’s what all the people who say, ‘It must be marvellous being a writer’ fail to realise. Most of the time it isn’t fun at all; it’s an effort and you have to make yourself do it. Once you warm up, of course, it’s fine; you begin to enjoy it. It’s just that initial reluctance you have to deal with when the whole thing feels lilke starting a second hand car on a frosty morning.
One thing I can tell you: It’s no good waiting to feel inspired. You won’t produce much like that. A very slim volume at best. No, you have to treat it like brushing your teeth. Nobody waits to feel inspired before they do that. They just squeeze the tube, open their mouths and start jiggling those bristles. It’s exactly the same. You turn on the computer, start reading through what you’ve already written and, after a while, you find you’re writing again without even noticing it. Okay, at first you might not be writing very well but you can always edit that bit out later on.
Unfortunately, this does not fit with the romantic notions that some people have about writing. And boy, do they have romantic notions. When people ask me about my writing habits and I say that I start at eight and work through to four with an hour off for lunch, they always look at me open-mouthed. ‘So it’s like…(pause, while they try to consider what it is like), like a job?’ they say in amazement. ‘Yes,’ I agree. ‘That’s exactly what it’s like. A job.’