Castles in the Sky. Feet in the…

Well hello everyone. I have been working hard at my blog all week but scheduled stuff all primed and ready to go automatically. I realise I haven’t actually said anything to anyone for ages. So here’s the thing: Few Are Chosen is now Perma Free! Oh yes, and although I’ve done very little about it, a couple of sites seem to have picked it up. Some people have even read it, and bought the second book. Booyacka! Thank you my lovelies!

So that’s the good news. Let’s celebrate with a joke from McMini.

“Mummy, tell me a knock knock joke.”
“OK. Knock knock.”
“I’m not in.”

Which got a guffaw from his Dad… which is more than my jokes ever do.

So why the meh?

Well, I know I’ve been dangerously detached for a while – worry about my folks – but suppose it came to a head last night. I forgot to cook supper. No laughing at the back! Yes, I am that out of it, that disengaged with real life. Seriously, though, how the fuck does a 45 year old adult forget to cook sodding tea? I’m so disconnected from the world around me that I am, frankly, a little bit scared to drive a car. It’s as if time’s stretched out and slowed down. I pull off a roundabout, there’s nothing next to me but by the time I’ve indicated and started to pull into the inside lane there is. I take too long looking in one direction at a junction and when I look back the other I’m riding my bike into the path of an oncoming car, with my boy on the back. My thoughts move slowly, as if they’re struggling through cotton wool. That is… not normal.

Then there’s my writing. K’Barthan 3 and 4 came back from the editor the other day. Like the curate’s egg it was good in parts. He also drew my attention to how dark it was, seriously hideously dark, dystopian misery lit dark. And it occurred to me, as I read it back, that I am not very happy, and lack the stamina to be continually worried long term without… repercussions.This whole disengagement with life would bear that out, of course.

Looking at the text, I could easily spot the bits I wrote in the months after my Brother in Law’s death, or when my Dad was extra sick, even without knowing which ones they were, because those are the bits where my characters really suffer.

In life there is always ambient background worry. I imagine it as a glass – apparently this is the psychologist’s favourite metaphor, I didn’t know that but there we go. Perhaps they use it because it works for most people. So the amount of liquid shit in the glass determines how much extra liquid shit you can take. Unfortunately, with my Dad’s trip to hospital, the ambient worry situation seems to have intensified and the shit is spewing out of the glass and turning the area around it into something more like the Somerset levels… or Datchett.

And while my subconscious is busy going arooogah and calling an all stations alert to pump the brown stinky back into the glass it switches itself off. That’s useful for avoiding any more crappy negative bollocks from spewing into the brain but does effect some essential functions…. like, making supper, remembering to pick up McMini from school, or going to pick him up when someone else is. Yes, believe me, I have phone alerts for everything. They beep when I have to do stuff and when they beep, I do it, before I forget… which takes about 3 seconds.

So there it is. I’ve sort of worked out what’s going on.

I’m a bit down. And I want a holiday from myself.

You may well be wondering why. I have the most lovely McOther and McMini I could hope for, a lovely extended family, top mates… a lot to be happy about. And I do. Let me try and explain.

My Maternal Grandfather, knew exactly when he was going to die, to the point when he said a very final farewell to me on the last occasion we met. Nothing was really said. He took my hand in both of his, looked straight into my face and said, “goodbye darling.” I knew, at once, that he was trying to tell me that this was the last time we would meet. I also knew that he realised I’d understood. Indeed, I’d say it’s the only time in my entire life I’ve ever picked up something subtle like a message without words. He didn’t say goodbye to the others like that but then, he saw them again, which, presumably, is why he said such a final goodbye to me.

My Mum was 80 a few months ago. She told me, gently, that her father didn’t survive to see 81 and I had a horrible feeling that she was telling me she thinks she mightn’t be around for long. And I think this is the root of it all. That my parents are knocking on, and soon they won’t be here. And I want their last years to be happy, and for life to be kind to them, and while I think they are happy, I know they are struggling.

So I suppose I’m just scared. Scared that Mum has the same prescience as my Grandfather had, and missing her in some stupidly weird and bizarre way; mourning her while she’s still here. It’s probably quite common and it seems to be a perfectly logical coping mechanism, if a trifle inconvenient right now. Or maybe I’m just sad. Sad that a lot of the person I knew as my Dad has gone, sad at how hard that must be for Mum, sad that I can’t help.

I suppose Dad’s recent trip to hospital brought that into sharper focus. Along with the fact that I’m in my 40s and it seems that every time I catch up with someone I’ve not seen for a while, they tell me they have cancer. The Grim Reaper seems to be terribly busy in my life right now which gives everything, even the happy bits, a rather crepuscular tone. Not my cup of tea. I’m fed up with squinting through the murk.

In some ways it’s a good thing. It makes me constantly evaluate what I have and appreciate it. But it also makes me aware at how easily it could all go wrong. It’s a bit like standing at the entrance to a long dark tunnel and being too frightened to go in, even though you know you’ll come out the other side. Or maybe it’s like being in the middle of a field waiting for a thunderstorm in which I will run a high chance of being struck by lightening. I don’t want to live this bit. I want to fast forward to the other side when I’ve finished the books and whatever will be has… well… been. But that’s not an option on the path of life. I have always believed in living the moment, but I’m doing so with a ferocity that’s slightly worrying. And for the first time in some years, I don’t want to look forwards. I don’t want to see it. I just want to keep my head down, or occasionally glance sideways, and put one foot in front of an other, creep slowly onwards until it’s done.

Having always believed that, if you pay too much attention to the pebbles on the path of life you’ve only yourself to blame if you end up walking into a tree, I’m beginning to understand how people end up obsessed with the pebbles. Because sometimes, looking at the big stuff is a bit much. So they bite off little pebble sized chunks, and then when things calm down again, they are stuck in the habit.

And what does this have to do with writing? Well, nothing much really, other than that as somebody who has all this other stuff going on, I find I write at the speed glaciers move. And like life, when the future gets scary, I just plod on putting one word next to another, day after day, until it gets easier again.

There is something else I’ve discovered, too, about jokes. I don’t actually work the jokes in. My technique with comedy has always been to be myself and when people laugh, pretend it was deliberate. I’ve no idea what makes people laugh or not, just that they do. Except that now I seem to be exorcising the darkness in my writing, keeping the glass of shit half full and draining my crap flooded mind by spewing it onto the page. And it’s changed.

It’s not so hard to go back and lighten it, in fact, if it weren’t for the fact that it’s yet another delay, it would be very diverting entertainment. It’s interesting that suddenly, I need to, though. I hope this new Poe style me doesn’t last too long, but if it does, I have a project I can spew it into… I think… although I won’t be able to call it Space Dustmen.

So there we go. K’Barthan 3 and 4 will not be out in April the way I said, more like June or July… and if there’s any more grief it may be some years.

If you want to read something to cheer you up after that terrible bout of moaning, Few Are Chosen, K’Barthan Trilogy: Part 1 is  a lot funnier than this post. AND it’s now absolutely free, everywhere. Here’s where you can go get it.

Where to Download the ebook of Few Are Chosen:

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Few Are Chosen - M T McGuire
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30 Comments

Filed under General Wittering

30 responses to “Castles in the Sky. Feet in the…

  1. Hope things improve. I’ve been wondering about how the emotions we feel come into our writing whether we want them to or not. I hit depressions and get stressed, which comes into my writing as characters snapping at each other out of nowhere. It seems it gets harder for an author to find that zen neutrality of emotion as they get older.

  2. That knock know got a guffaw from me too. Sorry your life is not at a happy happy point now – I really hope you start to see some light. I went through a fat fear funk a couple of years back too, and it’s horrible. It’s easy to tell someone that no matter how much they fear the worst that can happen, that fear won’t effect the outcome, so I won’t say that. It’s really hard to accept the what is with a smile all the time. HUGS xxxxxx

    • This is true. As The Pan tells himself all the way through the K’Barthan trilogy, there’s no point in being frightened, it won’t help, but it’s so easy to say and so hard to do!

      Cheers

      MTM

      • That’s the worst thing about it. When I was having regular panic attack meltdowns I was terrified of everything and everyone had a trick to fix them, but at the end of it all I had to sort it myself. Although just getting tips from buddies made me feel a bit loved and that helped. You have every right to feel sad though. I always OD on Vit C when I’m down and it helps. And there I said I wouldn’t give any tips!

      • Don’t worry. I am basically, very happy and I am OK with it, really, most of the time. We have just sorted out some more care for my Mum and Dad so they have a bit more support but you know how it is, when you love someone but you have commitments pulling you in two directions at once… Do I look after McMini and let them fall or do I catch them and be a dodgy Mum to McMini: Sophie’s choice. Every time.

        It’ll be OK, it always is. I think we could call this a wobble.

        Cheers

        MTM

  3. Jemima Pett

    You sound perfectly normal to me. Brain not in gear because it’s reeling from the losses and fears of losses. My brain did much the same sort of thing in response to bereavements and career changes. Yes, you do need a holiday from you – lighten up on yourself and allow yourself to let go a bit. Who set the target for K’Barthan 3 & 4 anyway? I still hope I get my humour mojo back sometime… although I did laugh the other day, so things are on the way up. I remember stuff better and I can do Countdown again, too. Hey!

    Hugs from me and smooches from my guinea pigs 🙂

    Jemima
    over-committing myself with the A to Z Challenge again!

    • Thanks, that does help. Mind you, apparently women who endure stress between the ages of 36 and 50 are 20% more likely to suffer from Alzheimer’s. Bollocks. That’s me stuffed then.

      Cheers

      MTM

      Oh and PS, thanks for the hug and owick owick to the guinea pigs.

  4. MT, I’ve been missing your blog posts and wondering about you and your parents.
    It’s a lot that you’re going through right now. Thanks for your openness about it. So first rule is, Kiddo: Be kind to yourself.
    And having read this post, I also hope you won’t throw away the parts of your book that are too grim – they’ll come in handy at another time!
    As for the Alzheimer’s stat: that must be an argument against having teenagers/young adult children. Because isn’t that the age when most parents are stressed out by their teenagers?
    OK, I’m turning foolish now (must be the Alzheimer’s), so will sign off. But I’m sending you a big hug from Toronto where people are hugging each other like crazy, just to stay warm…..

    • To be honest, I am amazed at how much of an impact it’s having. It’s ambient stress, they’re knocking on and have been for some time. They have accepted some more care, too. I’m popping down to see them tomorrow. I know I’ll be a lot more reassured after that. Part of the guilt I feel right now is that McOther was working late – really late – coming home at 9 or 10pm most nights and 12pm on the last one, so I was rather tied up with McMini and felt I left my brother to sort it out this time. Which he did. Which was brilliant. But usually, if they have a spot of bother, I can get there too.

      Cheers

      MTM

  5. What can I tell you? Hang on in there. It gets better. Honest. So if books 3 and 4 are a bit dark, no worries! Your writing will carry the story, whether you get a HAE or not.

    Chin up! x

  6. So sorry to hear things have been tough. I truly hope they get better for you soon.

  7. texasdruids

    MT, I’ve gone through blue periods several times. The best way I have found to pull myself back into the light is to work on something creative, whether writing, painting, crafting, gardening, you name it. That takes my mind off the sad stuff and helps me focus on good stuff again.

    Another thought: You might try talking to your doctor about those disconnected feelings and sadness. Four years ago I told my neurologist (I see him for my neuromuscular disorder) that I had been feeling down for quite a while, not wanting to do anything. He put me on a low dose antidepressant and it made a world of difference. I began writing again and coincidentally (or maybe not) I worked up the courage to publish my first book a few months later.

    • Thanks Lynn. Writing helps a lot and a couple of years ago I did have a chat to the Doc and I was referred for cognitive behavioural therapy which really worked for me. There are quite a few online resources for that and I may dig out my notes and work through them again. I do get periods like this when I’m worrying about things and usually everything slides back into focus after a couple of weeks. I’m keeping an eye on it. Doubtless anyone with elderly parents a long way away worries the way I do and knowing others get blue helps.

      I think a certain amount of blueness every now and again is part of being creative.

      Thanks chuck.

      MTM

  8. Just seen this post and wanted to say HUG. Also, I completely understand about life seeping into the writing. I think I could go back through the daily novel I wrote last year and track all my ups and downs in Claire’s story (she was ill when I was ill and depressed when I was low). I think that’s what lends variety to our writing and, as you say, the beauty of life over writing is we can go back and change it. I can’t write humour or conflict first off (which just leaves bland meh writing) and have to consciously try and add both later.
    Hope you find somewhere to surreptiously empty your glass of shit when no-one’s watching….

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