The Bends


It’s three weeks since I returned from America; one week since I returned to work. A lot has happened. Not very much has happened. I’m slowly beginning to realise that I’ve managed to make the most almighty hash of re-entering the real world. I tried too come back too quickly. I expected too much. I feel like I’ve got the bends and all I want to do is hibernate.

People keep asking me if it’s nice being back at work. It is not nice. It feels like the best and longest school summer holiday I ever experienced ended overnight, leaving me one minute basking on a lazy, sun-drenched beach and the very next, in the bleak mid winter, working every hour God sends and, every time I venture outside, getting drenched in that enormous puddle outside Maysfield Leisure Centre which Translink drivers seem so drawn to, (the first part here is slight exaggeration, the last part, based entirely upon a true story). Of course, it’s nice to see everyone at work. I share the world’s greatest building with a collection of the world’s greatest people and three months without seeing any of them, or indeed partaking of the curly fries in the staff canteen, has been something of a stretch.

However, in the last ten days I haven’t managed to write a single sentence of any worth. (Duty management reports aside). I have fantastic ideas which keep me up at night, insomniac and scribbling notes in the inside cover of whatever paperback I’m currently reading. But each time I sit down at my keyboard the sleep catches up with me and I wake twenty five minutes later, defeated and ill-inclined to make yet another stab at finishing chapter fourteen. I feel like a fraudulent writer every time I tell people the new novel is nearly finished. Yes, it is nearly finished but let’s just say it’s no nearer being finished than it was six weeks ago. The end is in sight but it’s not making much effort to meet me halfway and I’m developing the horrible suspicion that, (despite everything my mortgage has ever told me), full time work and serious novel writing might be too strong a combination for me. I’m a little bit afraid of where this is going.

I have done many, many things to reassure myself that I am not wasting precious writing time. I’ve sorted out my accounts, given a lecture about my forthcoming, (rather slowly) novel, scoured my wardrobe for missing buttons and sewed them all back on, written a Belfast-based musical in my head, watched far too much ITV3 and tonight, as the ultimate in not-writing-distractions, ripped all the wallpaper off my bedroom. I’m hoping the block lifts soon. I don’t feel like myself when I can’t write. Constipated is probably the best word for this feeling. If the sentences don’t come back soon I might actually consider writing that Belfast-based musical in the real world and this probably wouldn’t be the best news for anyone. Patience please. Re-entry seems to be taking longer than I’d scheduled.


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