It’s eight days since I last wrote something for the British Theatre Guide. The day after that I had an idea for a play which I’d started working on in 2018, but even that new inspiration stumbled to a halt after writing a (very) few speeches.
Writing and deleting
I’ve also been trying to write something factual and theatrical for North East Bylines but new ideas kept occurring and the piece changed direction so much that, although I have written a fair amount, I’ve not actually made any progress. In fact, I’ve deleted more than I’ve written.
You’d have thought that, as it now seems that we are emerging from the abyss of Covid-19 and the light at the end of the pandemic tunnel is perceptively brightening, and with the government aiming to loosen all restrictions on 21 June, my mind would be reacting with greater positivity, with a surge of energy, greater hope and optimism.
But no, not so. I seem to be either retreating into dreams (so many disturbed nights) or challenging all the good signs. For God’s sake, yesterday I found myself reading very positive messages on Facebook and reacting by picking holes in the writers’ grammar! How can we believe what they say if their grammar is suspect?
I have survived since 6 March 2020 – almost fifteen months now, months that feel endless – being effectively locked away from people and from the life that I love, but now that we are emerging from the darkness, I seem to be resisting, embracing the darkness, retreating back to feel its comfort around me: a weird kind of Stockholm Syndrome in which being locked away feels better than a freedom which seems to promise only fear.
For to me, with my COPD (Emphysema and Chronic Bronchitis) and Hypertension and getting frighteningly close to 80, the world outside these walls appears a threatening place, full of… Goodness knows what. Danger? Illness? Death?
Please lock me away
And don’t allow the day
Here inside, where I hide
I thought I was handling the pandemic well. Yes, the lack of external stimuli and severe restrictions on contact (or, at least, face to face contact) with other people did mean that my creativity took a knock but that was only to be expected and I knew that other writers were experiencing similar things. Now, though, it looks like (not for the first time, I suspect) I was kidding myself and that I wasn’t escaping scot-free.
I don’t really know myself very well at all.