The Sharpness of Spring
April is the cruellest month, or so TS Eliot says. This year, in the cruellest of times, there is some truth in that observation. From blossom, to snow showers in the same week, my magnolia has been subjected to the cruellest of weathers. Whether it will survive or not is yet to be seen, but the joy of seeing the first white pristine flowers open up to the sun has been replaced by the sadness of seeing those same flowers becoming brown and wasted.
It’s a fairly good metaphor for our lockdown regimes of the past year. From the joy of being able to see family and friends again in the summer we went to lockdown one, when in our tier it was forbidden to travel out of the area, to the much more stringent lockdown from January onwards when we were more or less prisoners in our own homes and the only communication was via FaceTime or Zoom. Interspersed with that were the moments of happiness and anticipation that caught so many of us out, like the pronouncement that we would have a five day moratorium over Christmas when we could mix freely. As infection rates rose five days became one, and then all the advice was that we shouldn’t see anyone indoors at all. Because we celebrate on Christmas Eve, our Christmas was cancelled, so once again we went from joy to despondency in the space of twenty-four hours.
It struck me as I opened a new file on the computer that this is exactly like embarking on a new novel. There is the exhilaration of the new, the idea that grips you and will not let go, that demands to be written. At this stage the story flows onto the page, there is little shape or form but you are so entranced that you cannot stop. The wheel is nearing the zenith. At the end of every day, you are energised, excited, can’t wait until the next morning to start the process again.
Then comes the downward trajectory. The story loses is lustre. Writing becomes turgid. You begin to lose faith not only in the concept but in your ability to write.
Ploughing through the slough of despond is hard, but eventually you get through. Your characters come to life. The story takes shape and once again writing is something that you both love and must do.
I don’t expect that for me the ups and downs of the process will ever change. What I do hope is that at some point soon the rest of my life will run more smoothly and that once again I’ll be able to make plans that have some hope of coming to fruition.