The last event of my professional year was my agent’s party last night. Unfortunately, half way through she cut herself on a broken glass that someone had disposed of rather carelessly. Apparently, the sight of blood always makes her faint, so she was slumped over her desk while colleagues held her arm up in the air to try to stop the bleeding. This sounds comical but in truth it was very alarming.
Today I went Christmas shopping in the mall.That was pretty alarming too. The food section of Marks and Spencers was like something from Dante’s Inferno.
I have loved Dante ever since I encountered the Divine Comedy in the Penguin translation at the age of 13. Indeed, those of my readers with a taste for intertextuality will be aware that my trilogy, The Promises Of Doctor Sigmundus, is a kind of reinvention of Dante’s themes. However, I prefer to encounter his creations in my imagination rather than in the Food Hall of my favourite retailer.
Now I am trying to content myself with getting the house ready for Christmas, wrapping presents, and arranging social meetings with friends and family. But I keep feeling like I’ve forgotten something important. What can it be, I wonder? Oh yes, writing.
I don’t like to be separated from The Process for even a day. I feel myself growing fainter by the hour. Not fainter like my poor agent confronted with her own blood. No, fainter as in an image, or a ghost perhaps - gradually disappearing.
One of my favourite poets, Catullus, practically invented the love-hate relationship. At least, he was the first to immortalize it in literature in a delightful couplet which begins odi et amo (I love and I hate). What is particularly clever about this opening is that because of the rules of Latin poetry, when you say these three words you have to run them together - so it’s like one word.
Catullus, of course, was talking about a woman but I think a lot of writers feel the same way about The Process. My wife said to me the other day, ‘You hate it when you’re at the beginning of a book, you hate it when you’re in the middle of a book and you hate it when you’re nearly at the end of a book. So when, exactly do you like it?’
I must have been complaining too much.
The thing is, I like it all the time as well. Especially when I can’t do it because something like Christmas intervenes. (I originally said ‘gets in the way’ there but that made me sound so curmudgeonly that I had to edit it out in favour of ‘intervenes’. There you are, you see: The Process. I can’t stop doing it.)
So Happy Holiday to all of you who take the time to read my blog. Or should that be Season’s Greetings. Or maybe something with ‘yuletide’ in it. But what the hell does yuletide mean, anyway?