Tuesday, 10 January 2012

how soon is now

Burrowing my way out from the beginning of the year, trying to break through the surface into space. I have been scrabbling; the soft dirt keeps capsizing on my face. All the work I thought was finished has been returned—post haste!—to edit again.

Unspace the em-dashes! Chicago-style citations! Thuses and therefores, suchlikes and neverthelesses. I swear, I would be happy if I never read the words “this writer thinks” again.

I am choking on this work, I am knackered, I feel not fit for this world. Everything crumbles like chalk that can’t handle the foundations, like Victorian plasterwork trying to stand up to the drill. I’ve been drinking too much the moment the laptop lid finally closes and I’ve been tamping peppermint and ginger on the nauseous mornings. Veering from delirium to dejection at another 10,000 words to go.

However, there is also the knowledge that this is not forever. I am taking a break now. I am thinking of metaphors. The characters I have tucked in the desk drawer have been mewling, scrubbling, yowling for attention. “Hush hush,” I’ve been saying. “I’ll be there soon.”

Well, an etymological aside: the word soon was the Anglo-Saxon word for now, it’s just that years of people saying “I’ll do it soon” and taking a while left it meaning something else. Same with moment, the smallest conceivable amount of time; same with anon, Old English for instantly. Soon, soon will mean in the future, then some day we’ll wake up and it’ll be never.

I fucking love etymology, but I’m tired of contributing to the creep.

Time to stem this, reclaim the soon as now. Time to get back to the things that keep me whole: hot oven loaves, over-stretched metaphors, handwritten postcards, outdoor swimming, gruyere.

I’m off to the countryside to dig flowerbeds and conjure words from the air.

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