Well, after Thursday’s dramatic line in the sand, reality turns out to be not so heroic.
After a few days (nights) of reduced sleep, I struggled on Friday morning. The weather forecast was unexpectedly nasty. I had to replan the multiple layers of my wardrobe for the day, and in the end I didn’t get any writing done at all.
But I did get up. I thought about piking out and sleeping in, but I didn’t.
It makes me wonder: how much of what I do is because that’s part of the narrative I have determined I will live? How much is that helping, and how much hindering?
Surely, I can’t be the only person who weaves narratives around themselves to ameliorate the mundanity of their life?
Anyone? Anyone at all?
Having cast myself as the dedicated but struggling writer, I can’t very well turn round and sleep in past seven. It ruins the story. And living the story helps me keep going.
Of course, this can turn against you (no, I mustn’t have the heater on! the starving garret-writer wouldn’t have that!) but for the most part, it helps.
Being true to the rôle is more fun than following the schedule or the regulations. It’s more creative. It’s more like play.
So, now that I’ve put my internal child quivering in the spotlight for playing make-believe at the age when other people are doing Serious Adult Things like having mortgages and career aspirations – who wants to join me?
We can be prisoners of war, plotting escape (thank you, Professor Tolkien); knights under siege (merci, Monsieur Buhet); or a misunderstood girl on a heroic quest (thank you Terry Jones).
Sometimes it even helps to pretend things are worse than they are. Sara Crewe may have pretended to be a princess to escape the drudgeries of domestic servitude, but how many people since have pretended to be Sara Crewe?
I don’t mean to suggest that I spend my days thinking I’m someone else – I have grown up a bit, after all. But when I find myself in adverse or tiresome circumstances, it can be enlivening to think: what characters (fictional or otherwise) have been this way before me? What would they do? What did they do? What if -? (And incidentally, would it not be very cool if I was a superhero?)
I can be efficiently domestic with Lucy Eyelesbarrow (this is more productive when at home), persist to the bitter end with Cazaril, or be quietly indomitable with Jane Eyre.
So what narrative eases the flow of your days? “Stories etch grooves deep enough for people to follow.” Or do you do it the hard way, scratching the beginnings of a new groove with each succeeding day?
Is it just me?