The Good Ship Well-Being

On the East Sussex Coast, beautiful boats with white sails were gliding over the waves, but it was this little craft with a name it can surely never have deserved, that caught my eye.

Posted on 24/06/2021

Writing sometimes makes me ill. There are many days when I feel just like this pitiful boat – battered and stuffed with rubbish and marooned on wasteland far from the sea.

Sitting at a desk day in and day out is not conducive to good health. It’s not only writers who sit at desks for long periods of time, but writers do it in a particularly desperate and intent way that leads to hunched backs and tension between the eyes and a horrible, life sapping, liverishness. Whether the prose is flowing free (seldom) or whether it is stuck somewhere deep down in your miserable gut (most of the time) the effect is the same – tormented minds and twisted limbs and an over reliance on Haribo.

Take breaks! I hear you cry. Go out and stare at shrubbery! Use your never before opened app that promotes mindfulness! Descend to the kitchen and whip yourself up something tasty with a tin of chick peas! All good, sensible, excellent advice, which I am utterly unable to take. If the writing is going well, i.e. more than ten minutes have passed without me staring frantically out of the window or looking at Twitter to see who is doing better than me (everyone), then abandoning my desk feels foolhardy- it might be the very last time the tail of inspiration lies in my sweaty fist. When it’s going badly, then leaving my lonely vigil feels too much like failure to bear, and what if….what if…when I’m mashing chickpeas with a fork or wandering across a meadow of buttercups, I feel that tail flick past me and I know that if I had only held fast, if I had only continued to sit hunched and miserable at my post, the words would have come pouring out of me.

The thing I live for (apart that is from never, ever, again having a review on Amazon that simply states, in lower case, as if using capitals would involve too much effort, the dreaded¬†‘dnf’)¬†is the moment when finally and improbably, the first draft has been squeezed out. There is more pain to come, or course, much, much more pain, but just for a few days, maybe even a week, I can emerge creaking and blinking from my study and feel the sun on my body and hold a buttercup under my chin.