It doesn’t pay to go away. Not if you’re serious about writing. Before I left on my two weeks holiday to Bangkok, I’d been writing podcasts about WW1. Even when I was away, I looked at them that first week, and lamented not bringing at least some of my research materials so I could do some work. But I soldiered on (yeah, I know, shocking pun), and managed to created a life centred around a 2-year-old, a swimming pool and my next delicious meal. I am now back in the office I missed so much during that first week of time off, and I’ve discovered WW1 is like a foreign land or a trip to the moon. I know a serious route march through piles of notes and chapters in books is required to get me back on track, yet while the sun is shining the temptation is to sit out on the deck and get some vitamin D.
It doesn’t help that my friend has cancer. I’ve had remarkably healthy friends and cancer has always hidden itself amongst elderly relations and people I don’t know very well. This is different and my immediate reaction was to purchase a book. I buy books like other people buy coffees. I expect the words to provide a quick shot of adrenaline then get the motor running with all four wheels pointing in the same direction. I’ve read pretty much the whole book and I’m unsure if I should hand it over to my friend. I know how I would feel if someone were to give me a book on writing. I’d think it was great of them to acknowledge my passion but then I’d enter that dark grey world of doubt. Have they read “I am not Joe Donovan” and found all the mistakes? Do they think I’m so awful at writing that I need a book on punctuation? Yeah, I know they said they found it amongst a pile of romance novels at a garage sale and I am the only person they know who would even open it up, but the whole thing sounds a bit made-up to me.
You see? It’s fraught this book giving. I think I’ll just stick with that bottle of Kahlua she requested and keep the book that says alcohol is implicated in all sorts of cancers, until we’re completely smashed and can see that when it comes to real things like the operation on Wednesday and me getting my head back into war, there are two parts. The first a quick, knee-jerk reaction and the second, a long, deep sigh and the placing of the shoulder against the wheel.