Ruthless passionate Tony Soprano dead? No, he will live on in celluloid glory, but the actor James Gandolfini is gone too soon.
Writing fiction and stopping. You let the bucket down into the well and it comes up empty, perhaps a little sand and water mixed, gritty sediment, dregs, nothing there. The well has run dry. Characters left on a ledge, no conversation between them, no quick or furtive embraces, no angry words, no daydreaming, the floor’s black split-open crevice widening to engulf them, no sun trickling in through the open window, just emptiness and birds falling silent, no waves pounding on the shoreline.
So we press pause and take a break. It will all begin again soon enough, the curtains rising on the shabby or grim stage set, the game taken up with chess pieces and shuttlecocks, laughter from behind the door, the hurt child running down the passage towards the secret garden — but not quite yet. The toys have been packed away, the mind is empty.
My small dog sometimes known as Khlobi-wa-Kenobi is like a white sea lion lolling on the window sill and wagging her tail in a frenzy of love whenever I catch her eye.
The great north wind has blown down a transmitter in the mountains, so Internet access is erratic again. This morning I had planned to go and visit a friend, sit out in the winter sunshine drinking coffee and happily plunging into shared quirks of human psychology and dog training failures, but she has to see the doctor, so we will meet another time. All I have to face now is the blank page on my screen. Fortunately there is revision to do, editing, fact-checking, research – the nuts and bolts of potholing on chalky downs! Snow melt in the Antarctic! Egyptology in 1919! Nubian funeral rites!Facts and details to be gone through item by item.
Reading a letter from another friend trying and failing to get off one particular medication after 27 years. The side effects horrible. What as once a solution has become life-threatening. She refers me to James Davies’ top critiques on psychiatry:
While agreeing that short-term use of these drugs can help stabilise patients, Whitaker documents the mounting evidence showing how their long-term deployment has counter-therapeutic effects. The evidence leads to a startling conclusion: that the “chronic” nature of many severe mental disorders may be partly or entirely caused by the antipsychotic drugs patients are encouraged to consume.
Storylines that swim in and out of focus, exotic, improbable, unworkable. Characters waiting to be nudged back into life, shaded with old memories and resembling long-dead relatives, a bad-tempered woman with unshaven armpits, children sailing little wooden boats on sloshing water in the enamelled bathtub, loud voices and divorce looming like a black nightmare, someone in love with the wrong person and unable to resist the smashing up of family life that will follow. Plots that thicken. Everyone in the house hears the scream that makes no sound. Another six or seven thousand words, and then we shall have a novella limping along and waiting for revision, to be polished and proofed and sent off to some yawning editor who has just brewed up a fresh mugful of mocha-java and tuned out the traffic in the street below, who is about to look at her inbox, read through emails.
Spiky seed pods tumbling down from a liquidambar tree that leans over the garden wall. Small grey lizards basking on sun-warmed brick. The Great Dane barking for his morning biscuit, one-two sharp barks, peremptory. The morning thaws out, the winter light so gentle and only blue in mountain shadow.