Cloudy Monday morning and I’m hard at work in front of the new shiny monitor, doing what I seem to be spending my life doing, trying to write and getting nowhere fast.
Woke early and finished the biography of Bruce Chatwin, his slide towards death amidst the mania and then dementia of AIDS, suffering from a white fungus in his mouth, bones aching, the equivalent of dysentery: the denial still maintained to the last. Began Penelope Fitzgerald’s Innocence while sitting next to open French windows in weak sun, at once enraptured with that knack she has of writing from the inside, completely convincing and absorbing, masterly. Watered plants, admiring the pink flower with its golden centre still blooming away on my new dwarf cistus. Then a breakfast of muesli and coffee — S tired and withdrawn from his mountain hike yesterday, 14 miles up very steep slopes in dank mist, hardest coming down through slippery shale, mud, boulders.
The effort of writing and getting nowhere. Lay awake last night and thought about a satire on the last decade, that decor world insanity. But I can’t get the tone. Or the distance. The mad love of objets does fascinate and amuse me though and I wish I could write something on the obsessive frenzy of decorating, collecting, curating, gentrifying, beautifying, the tyranny of good taste, the excesses and extravagance, the despair — one day I will get there.
But for now it is a trawling through topics and plots just trying to find out what works. Write a paragraph, erase it, write another and revise — this back and forth all day. The house very quiet, not much energy around.
But looking forward to the meeting later, giving shape and purpose to the day. Sober living, whatever happens. And a meeting spells companionship, listening, sharing, laughter and ease. Then back for supper and an early night. Perhaps an hour or so of writing before I go off to bed. Followed by an hour of reading, the lamp tilted next to my side of the bed, glass of water and moleskine notebook at hand.
Dream last night of being amongst turbanned Indian businessmen in a foreign city, taking lifts (elevators) carpeted and plushy with paisley red and green carpeting on the walls and ceilings. Squared-off wombs and coming out of the lifts into foyers with hothouse flowers, tinted mirrors and anxious men worrying about cabs and taxis and airport schedules, the street outside grey and noisy, sun shining through layers of brown cloud, an orange and veiled grey light as if a fire was burning at the heart of the dream. There was somebody I had to meet and whom I could not find, I was lost in a strange city and surrounded by frantic but equally disoriented men.
The dream reflects something of the urgency and panic within me about finding my way in this society — I think of being in the Indian restaurant the other evening and listening to others at the table, present but not belonging. An outsider. No foothold here, nobody who knows me from before.
My heart squeezes shut with fear at times. Nothing I can name, and nothing to do but endure this inner estrangement. I am in exile from my former self, in exile from the continent on which I grew up, in exile from all I thought I knew. There is sunlight and then the clouds blow over and I find myself in the dark. Unable to see my way forward.
I need time to adjust, time to ground myself. But there is not enough time and I am at sea in so many respects. So I keep writing and revising and starting over, alone here at a computer in a small study. Wrestling with demons that appear and vanish and come back again to torment me.