It is somehow the first of May, and a third of the year has gone, much of it swallowed up by coronavirus.  I am not as far ahead on my novel as I would like to be, and have only had paid work for one month out of four, which is proportionately similar to 2019 (three months out of twelve).

I woke up early and tried hard to get up, but I didn’t manage it and actually ended up getting up slightly later than intended.  I tell myself I am a work in progress, but it isn’t always easy to believe.  Or at least, it isn’t always easy to see where I am progressing to.

I did nearly an hour and a half of work on my novel, writing more than 1,000 words.  I still feel that it’s going slowly.  Paradoxically, I am writing too fast, by which I mean that scenes that I feel in an ordinary novel would go on for several pages only take up one or two pages.  I am not sure why I can’t write at enough length, but some of it I suspect is the difficulty I have writing descriptive passages (which lots of people just skip anyway…) and sticking very strictly to stuff absolutely necessary to push the plot on and not show character detail or mood.  I hope to rectify some of this in the redrafting, but it’s a slow process.

I also spent fifteen minutes going over a Mishnah and taking notes for it so I can give a two minute talk on it over Zoom for my father’s friends on my grandfather’s yortzeit (death anniversary) next week.  This is to compensate for Dad not being able to say kaddish as would normally be the case if there were minyanim (services with prayer quora).  I feel uncomfortable doing stuff for the dead, and I do not feel I understand the Mishnah well enough to explain it properly, but I feel I should go through with it for the sake of my Dad and (I suppose, in some sense) my grandfather.

I Skyped E. for a quarter of an hour.  I was glad I did, as she was upset by things and needed to vent to me, but I guess the conversation reminded me just how much I’m betting on building my career as a novelist to support myself and a family, which seems pretty reckless at a time when no one is interested in publishing my writing (except apparently people who want me to write about things I know nothing about) and precious few interested in reading it.  If I don’t seem worried about this most of the time, it’s really because I’ve become resigned to being a failure on multiple levels, too messed up (insert more profane synonyms for “messed up”) to hold down a decent job or move my relationship on and doomed to be dependent on the beneficence of others for the foreseeable future (my parents, the state).  If all I needed to be a successful writer was determination and practise, I would be happier, but I also need skill, self-esteem, confidence and luck/divine intervention.

Every so often it occurs to me that some of my school teachers must have been younger than I am now, which freaks me out a little.  I never thought of them as young, yet they were holding down full-time jobs dealing with crazy teenage kids (admittedly my school was mostly well-behaved and not a jungle like some inner city state schools), presumably with private lives and families too.  And they seemed mature, even old, and authoritative.  Mind you, there are plenty of people my age with partners and careers and houses and, well, everything.  I try not to be jealous.  Actually, I’m not jealous, I just worry that I’ll never get myself sorted out.  Like I said, I tell myself I am a work in progress, but it isn’t always easy to believe.

2 thoughts on “First of the Month and No Returns

  1. The virus has put much of our progress(forward motion) on hold; it’s like a monstrous detour that we’re stuck on for a while. You and E were supposed to meet up, right? I had to cancel a trip to New York (for my grandchild’s birth) and a cruise to Alaska. We are figuratively “spinning our wheels” and going no where. Right now isn’t a time to be as critical of ourselves as we think we deserve.


  2. E. was supposed to be coming to the UK “at some point” this year for work and obviously we would have met while she was here. This may still happen, but probably not until the third quarter of the year at the earliest.

    I’m sorry about your missing your grandchild’s birth, and Alaska (Alaska sounds wonderful to visit, but probably not to live in).


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