I have one more week before I hand in my manuscript to publisher Random House. Given I have been working on the book for about four years it is a time of....I wouldn’t say tension exactly. It is something closer to fatalism, as each day is ticked off. I have one week to comb through 33 essays. Some are a page or so long. (I love those ones.) Others are so many pages I decided to grant independance and make an independant state of an essay.
I have never read them all through and will do that this coming week. I am not exactly looking forward to this. I am one of those writers who winces almost before I open the first page. Something in me is pre-set to criticism and an underwhelming response. I suppose this is the other side of an inordinate self belief, which any writer needs to survive (especially today when so many things seem to be moving against careful writing.)
It is only the lovely monastic repetition of habit - of sitting down at my desk, of looking at the computer - that carries me through all these indecisions, fatalistic moods and other indifferences.
Well, I should also add in the passion for my subject. It has pretty much carried me through the four years with only the occasional tiff between me and ‘William’ (Colenso).
I am very aware that the book will be my own individual take on him. But it is written specifically in my voice, so there’s no mistaking this.
Maybe I hope my eccentricity is an avenue into his undoubted individuality.
Do I know his secrets?
I don’t think so.
I do know a lot about him, or rather I know a lot about some small areas of his life. It’s like I’ve lived inside a freckle, or pore, or hair. It’s that small. But hopefully the sample will be more universal in its application.
And oh yes, I have a terrible cold. Somehow this ‘gift’ arrived at the worst of all possible times. I am usually a very enthusiastic hypochrondriac and I regard it as one of the beauties of being ‘self employed’ (that lovely vague term) that I can take to my bed in demi-tragic circumstances and announce I am just an inch away from death.
Alas, under the lash of Mr Colenso I have to stagger on...