Friday, 13 August
When I pushed ‘Publish’ two weeks ago, it was with a limp finger. I was not completely satisfied with the blog I’d just written and not happy with myself either.
Quiet, Please, seemed unfinished, missing a descriptive detail here, a clarifying thought there, but I pushed publish anyway to make the deadline for the Mailchimp subscribers (and without which I might still be fiddling with my first entry).
I also felt like a wimp. In the blog I complained about the renovations, chez nous in the Perche and next door in Paris. The racket and the presence of people were preventing me, I wrote, from thinking clearly and writing well. But wasn’t that just an excuse? Consumed by the creative fever, shouldn't I remain oblivious to hammers, saws, drills and radios, the odd bit of shouting? Wasn’t the problem essentially me, more a question of my flawed mind and weak will, than outside circumstances? Would August really change anything?
Especially since on the fiction front, matters were even worse. I had been hammering away at a novel project for months with zero progress. Though I was still getting up every morning before dawn, I'd trudge upstairs, make my coffee and settle on the sofa in David's office, then struggle during this usually preciously productive time to muster even a mild interest in my characters and story. Once back at it after the dog walk, the workers having arrived, my efforts proved even more futile. It was hard for me to believe I'd written a short story, much less three novels (the third is with my agent now).
But when the artisans in the Perche did finally leave on holiday, lo and behold, the din in my head stopped. The missing pieces of the blog landed in my brain, and I went about inserting them.
I also talked to a friend who has recently shifted from writing screenplays and directing films to writing novels. He phones from time to time for technical and procedural advice. I know not why; his first novel, the one he started last year, will be coming out at la rentrée littéraire 2022, I learned. I mentioned my block to him, then mentioned it again later when relating the conversation to David, something I hadn't yet done because most of the time work remains in the confines of my head.
But David does know the basics of the story I am trying to tell, and in talking it through with him, I saw the way forward.
Since then, the dull dread that filled my being each morning has abated. I approach the day's work with renewed energy and hope. During the walk with Tasha, my mind simmers with ideas. I get back to it happily after breakfast in the continued quiet, with the additional satisfaction of feeling vindicated in my complaint.
We'll see how long the restored focus lasts, come September and the return of the workers. In the meantime, I hope the rest of you have found some inner summer calm too.
If you like these photos, there are lots more on my Instagram account, @flemingm6