10 January 2010

A Bit Gloomy

is how I am feeling, reader. I have begun work on my new set of final revisions, and while even I can tell that they're improving what I have, there is very little sense of pleasure in thinking about them or about the project generally, or in figuring out where to put my additions - I get pleasure only while I am writing, from figuring out how to say what I want to say, and from the occasional really interesting idea I get.

The truth is, I hate this project. The process of reconfiguring what I'm writing seemingly endlessly, always missing anything I think gives the manuscript real interest or value, always adding bits that, while no doubt true and perhaps enriching to thought about Byron, don't particularly interest me or make me feel proud of myself, has sucked me and my enthusiasm empty. I feel exactly like W.B. Yeats in "The Fascination of What's Difficult" (oh, that feeling! of course), when he says, "The fascination of what's difficult / Has dried the sap out of my veins." Only when he said that, it proved that it hadn't - the constructed poem is itself a demonstration that the fascination of what's difficult hasn't dried any sap out of him at all. But it's dried the sap out of me. Like a shirt that has been worn and washed too often, this manuscript that has been re-read and rewritten uncountable times is now for me empty of colour: it's just washed out, and trying to care about it is sheer drudgery. I know "it is a job," but I never imagined that the end result of writing an academic book could be to make you hate the subject of it, and hate the idea of academic writing. I now fantasise that when I finish this I'll never write anything again.

But that's okay, of course. What makes me gloomy is the fact that I have no relief. I was saying to my friend S.M. last night that I feel like the Little Engine that Could: I think I can, I think can, and that's fine, but there's no else here to tell me that they think I can, too. And there's no one to give my life at the moment anything to look forward to beyond this drudgery: everyone who is back is working themselves; term hasn't started; and distance and sickness have decimated the ranks of those I would be really excited to see. At lunch or dinner I sit around and talk to people, but because of the way scheduling works out those are people I don't know very well yet, so conversation is stilted and somewhat hard going itself. It would be nice EITHER to have someone really close to me, whose "I know you can do this" would therefore have some weight (not possible in this country), OR to have someone or something stimulating enough to take my mind off this wretched wretched project for even half an hour.

Of course, it's not just that. I was also slightly and weirdly under the weather, and that seems to have stuck around somehow: I'm by no means sick, but I don't feel quite right. And I wanted to make cookies but then found out I had no baking soda, and for me there's almost nothing worse than being all geared up to do something and then at the last second being thwarted. And I've been getting a lot of messages on match.com, which should be nice, except none of them are suitable, and they're pretty much all unsuitable in obvious ways (why would someone whose favourite author is Dan Brown even contact me? I don't get that). So I have the sense of dwindling prospects and grim necessity again. And when I was home the lovely Jennifer said something to me about meeting David Tennant or something, and I said to her, "I think we have to accept that at this stage I am not going to marry David Tennant or any celebrity," and it's true: I'm too grown up to be unrealistic anymore. And that's even leaving aside the disheartening meeting I had with my HoD when I was in the States, even more disheartening job prospects here, and downright depressing and scary e-mail I received from my HoD regarding what might happen if I don't return to my home institution next year.

It's just a lot of stuff all piling up at once. You know how it is: it happens to everyone. And of course it will pass, but at the moment I'm having one of those periods where it's all just too much. And will be too much for a while, since the horrible horrible book can't be done for at least another two weeks.

And now I've ripped a hole in the inside seam of my jeans! Not single spies but in battalions, my friends, not single spies but in battalions.


Rosasharn said...

Saw this post after we spoke today. I just want to say: I am not your oldest friend or your best friend, but I am an old enough friend to know: You can do it. And I don't just mean the book. I mean all of it. You rock without a hint of sucking. It's been a while since I told you that, I think.

Vespertina Quies said...

How wonderful of you to remember that! And thank you so much for saying it. I'm pushing all rocks up all hills; I am determined.