Too Many Endings (Cecilia Peartree)

As I write this, we have not quite reached the end of the year, and on this morning of 30th December I've just completed the first draft of the novel I've been working on and also the final version of the family history research write-up I've planned to do for a couple of years. There is something unsettling about having finished both these projects at almost the same time, and I have a terrifying vision of the next year stretching out ahead of me as a blank canvas, or a stretch of fresh snow, just fallen and untrodden by any human foot.

This has been a whole year of endings. My mother-in-law died in Februrary at an advanced age after a good deal of illness, and my husband died in November, somewhat more unexpectedly but after eighteen months or so of poor health. 

I suppose only a writer could compare the blankness of the end of a project to the blankness of losing someone who had been part of her life for the best part of fifty years, but I've found it rather similar. It's the absence of things that I notice - my husband had carers who came in four times a day for a time and then only twice a day once the pandemic started, and there was a key in a key-safe outside the front door to allow them to come and go without requiring anyone to answer the door. When working from home and on my days off I would suddenly bump into one of them in the kitchen and, if they weren't the usual carers,  they would ask where the milk was or why there wasn't any Weetabix, or they would try to find what they needed themselves and somehow open the cupboard door the wrong way and almost dislodge it altogether.  Sliding doors appeared to be particularly baffling to some of them. On occasion the district nurse or the doctor would also use the key from the key-safe. I particularly remember a doctor suddenly appearing in the conservatory, where I write, when I had just begun my 2019 NaNoWriMo novel ,and demanding that I go to the surgery at once to pick up a prescription. Now my son and I can live our lives undisturbed by these intrusions. We have taken the key out of the key-safe - although this actually turned out to be inconvenient only the other day when I inadvertently left my front door key on my car key ring and my car in the garage for servicing - so that no-one can come in unless we decide to admit them.

It has gone very quiet without my husband and the carers, and what with the pandemic restrictions as well, we can go for days without seeing anyone else. My career as a database manager also, by coincidence, came to an end in October and I can mostly plan my own time from now on. This has worked reasonably well for as long as I have a writing project to do, because I know from experience that I write more in the mornings than at any other time. Will I even be able to get out of bed in the mornings now that I don't have a project in hand? 

As an eternal optimist I am trusting that this blankness is only a temporary state of affairs. I've already reminded myself to look for the notebook where I record my writing plans, and I know that the last time I glanced at it, there were quite a few projects I hadn't had time to make any progress with and should really re-visit. And if all else fails I can dig out my typescript novel of the English Civil War, discovered on a shelf in the kitchen during one of my failed de-cluttering projects, and see if it is worth salvaging. Perhaps 2021 will not turn out to be as blank as the new-fallen snow afrer all.

Best wishes for the New Year to anyone reading this.


Sandra Horn said…
May the new year bring you peace and joy, Cecilia - and creativity too, when you have had time to assimilate and get to grips with all the changes and the grief.
Umberto Tosi said…
I know the experiences and feeling that you describe so movingly, although you've had more than your share of loss in this past year. I've always felt a mix of elation and melancholy at completing a major work. As writers, we come to know and even love our fictional characters as real, and miss them, although not in the same way as we do our flesh-and-blood loved ones whom we lose. I hope you find solace and meaning in your new projects and great success with those you now launch. Happy New Year.
Peter Leyland said…
Sorry to read about the loss of your husband Cecilia and the other downturns in your life. Writing and reading can often bring succour at times of loss, although I can vividly remember being unable to read or write anything except poetry. Also humour helps - your account of the carers gave a lighter look through the gloom you were experiencing.

That said the English Civil War idea sounds fascinating for the future. I always loved that period of history and remember so well my schoolboy drawing of a cavalier and a roundhead in full attire. Do have another look at it.

Take care and I hope a new project appears
Thanks for the comments, everyone!
I found it helped to make a new writing plan for this year, although I always overturn my own plans sooner or later.
Eden Baylee said…
Hi Cecilia,

My condolences on the passing of your mother in law and your husband. As if 2020 wasn't difficult enough. :(

I hope the space you currently have, both physically and metaphorically, are filled with creative projects that make you happy. You can breathe easier, I hope. Sending hugs,


Reb MacRath said…
Sorry for the two brutal losses you suffered last year, Cecilia. But I confident that the blank canvas you face, temporarily, will evolve into a rich tapestry you see with your inner eye soon. Take care.
misha said…
So sorry for your loss. Grief has strange ways of working, so maybe you need a time to be still and reflect before beginning a new project.

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