The doldrums


Becalmed, by Thomas Jacques Somerscales

And into the maelstrom comes… silence.

There are only two states of being: having too much to do and having not enough. I have firmly landed in the second camp: after three weeks’ intense proofreading, form-filling and question-answering I now find myself with nothing to do.

This is, of course, a lie. I have plenty on my plate. I have two novels to edit. I have a new one to write (and I remember those days, I really do). I have a couple of short-stories that I’d like to tinker with. I have business to attend to and then there’s the unremitting grim fastness of Christmas to engage with.

But none of these things have deadlines. None brings the immediate prospect of prosperity. There is no urgent sense of peril or panic. Without them I am adrift. I am unfocussed, drifting in the doldrums without even the wispiest whisper of wind.

It’s in times like this that you should really start something new. Make your own momentum, hoist the sails yourself and set to the tiller. But I’m not ready. All ideas are too unfocussed; I lack a starting-point and a compass-bearing. To set off from harbour without even a rough destination is madness.

So I pull out my old novels and pick at them. This is worth doing, but also somehow wrong. I have been subverted, inverted, by a sudden rush of excitement, a great swell of activity that was at once overwhelming and thrilling, like being caught on a tidal wave that you must ride or drown.

I rode it. Now it’s petered out, and I am becalmed.

Someone give me a push?

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