Wednesday, 8 December 2010

A year ago today...

A year ago today, at about this time, I had just got home from the A&E department with a broken wrist. I had been x-rayed, examined, and strapped up in a Fortuna splint, and I had an appointment at the Fracture Clinic for the next morning. I trailed in, somehow got out of my coat, and then struggled round the kitchen, making myself a cup of tea and some toast, I rang my boss, then my mother, and then I sat down and felt sorry for myself.

It’s amazing, looking back on the last twelve months, to think I have accomplished anything at all this year. There were times when I felt I would never get through the near-eight weeks I was in plaster. Then there were times, after the plaster came off, when I feared I’d never get the use of my hand back. There were times when I felt I’d never again have a scrap of spare energy. Any kind of shock or anything remotely out of the ordinary could reduce me to tears. I slept badly for months and toiled through life bribing myself onward with meals out, trips to the ballet, chocolate and alcohol.

I am very, very grateful that that time is over. I am very grateful to the NHS for all the treatment and support, and to everyone who bore with me while I was so slow, so clumsy and so tired all the time. I’m very grateful too for having had the grit to stick at my exercises. I didn’t feel very gritty, but something reminded me, each time I wanted to fold up and cry, that there really was no other option. I’m grateful to the still small voice within, that shouted at me and kept me going.

And, above all, I am very grateful that nothing worse has happened to me. When I think of some of the horrors that people bear, the illnesses and accidents, the devastating effects of natural disasters and wars... my blood runs cold at the thought. A simple broken wrist gave me such a bitter endurance test, even here in a wealthy, civilised country like this. My prayers and thoughts go to everyone who is struggling with circumstances far worse than mine were; may their gods be with them, may their life not fail them.

I’d had all sorts of plans for what I meant to do in 2010; and despite the first six months of the year having been almost entirely focussed on getting back the use of my right hand and arm, I have still made some progress on them. Given the circumstances, this pleases me inordinately.

In particular, I’ve finally started on trying to get an agent for my writing. Agent No 1 turned “GY” down; the first three chapters are now with Agent No 2. If she also says no too, then I move on to Agent No 3, and so on down the list. It may take some time to get anywhere - I may never get anywhere at all - but I have overcome that huge, smothering fear about showing my work, and that means a good deal to me.

I’ve also begun on my “Working through the back burner items” project, and it’s proving really worthwhile. I’m trying to draft a synopsis and make a few notes about where an idea came from and what I see as the theme of a story, and the results are fascinating. Doing this really clarifies how ready (or not) a story is. It brings all the glitches and weaknesses to the fore, but it also fires up my creativity, thinking of the things I want to do.

Another odd discovery I’m making as a result of this exercise is the quantity of common threads between the stories. Some of these were expected – for example, I am a whole-hearted romantic, and I love Science Fiction and the fantastic, and it shows. But so far, if I had to pick an overarching theme of the stories I want to tell, it would have to be “redemption”, and I would not have anticipated that.

The “back burner” project also gives me something relatively simple to do of an evening, if I’m tired and feeling uncreative. Each synopsis is done-with in a few pages at most; I don’t need to follow through with the details, just explain the basics. It doesn’t stretch me, but at the end of each one I do I still feel I’ve achieved something.

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