Nope. I mean, I can write… I’m just… not writing. Sure, I am working slowly on some poems towards my next book, but can I sustain the narrative and voice needed for this monstrous 700 pages fantasy novel (currently nearing page 400)? No, I cannot. It’s not normal. It’s upsetting. And it’s what I’ve got right now. Amy Sackville commiserates.
In the last weeks I’ve taken up, and put aside, woodcutting, drawing, German. I’ve cooked and painted walls and baked. Several weeks in, I caved and made a sourdough starter. (It really does seem miraculous, the raising of bread, though I won’t go on about it.) Watched the lilac, then the climbing rose, then the honeysuckle bloom. Planted sweet peas and watched them sprout. I know I am fortunate. Sat in the small, overlooked garden, for which I’ve never been more grateful, with a book unread in my lap, picking up and putting down my phone, listening to building works and the radios of neighbours, staring into this fragrant, sunny, confined space. I can’t settle to anything.
I work at a university and the last months have been the busiest I’ve known, as we respond and support and adapt and plan. This is not about having an excess of time on my hands to be idled away, and wondering what I might do with it. It’s about what I’ve been doing in the time that I do have, when I’m not doing that job; and whatever that has been, it is not writing. This is all just distraction. From everything. From what’s beyond the flat, the garden, and from this sudden circumscription to those bounds. From writing, and the fact that I am not writing. Because I have not done any writing. (Writing this, here, is terrifying.) Why can’t I write?