I hate waiting.
Anyone who’s sent a manuscript off to an agent/publisher/editor knows how hard it is to get on with life while waiting for a response. I’m always most convinced that the work is dreadful, dreadful, DREADFUL while waiting. And the conviction grows and grows, until it morphs into a kind of epic self-loathing and I start to wonder why I ever thought the book was a good idea anyway. I can see the work clearly for the first time, and it’s lifeless, unsalvageable and lazy.
Why are some books so much harder to write than others? Or is it like childbirth, and we just forget how awful the last one was?
There’s plenty I could be doing in the meantime. Van Gogh at the Royal Academy, Chris Ofili at the Tate, Michelangelo at the Courtauld. The house is its usual mess, my office hasn’t been cleared in weeks. I could try to find the floor in my daughter’s bedroom (no, that’s too hard). Or weed the garden. Or read some of the books that have been piling up in the past few months. Or sew on buttons. But no. The best I can do is tramp like a lunatic on Hampstead Heath with the dogs, and hang around with lovely Moss, who always makes me feel better. So much better, that happiness turns immediately to guilt.
Am I not suffering enough? Thinking hard enough? Is the writing becoming mechanical? Has it ceased to come from the heart? Do I not get out enough? Or am I spending too much time thinking about dressage? Was the last book my last book?
I guess someone will get back to me with a verdict in a week or so. Until then, you’ll probably find me on the Heath.