My dad has a great word for how it feels when things just get out of hand, a little, and you lose control of where you’re at and what you’re doing and how you’re feeling. He calls it a ‘speed wobble’.
I had one of those at the weekend, which sort of bled into yesterday.
The end of last week started out well, with an amazing Friday, wherein I met a blogging-friend and his family who were passing through Dublin on a flying tour of Ireland. That was brilliant. It was great to get away from my home office and into the city (with my printed-out WiP in my natty wee backpack, of course), and to spend the morning working and the afternoon enjoying myself… but after that things went askew, a little. I wasn’t a fun place to be for the rest of the weekend.
I’m not sure I can explain it. I’m not sure it needs to be explained. It just was. It’s part of being human, maybe; a human who thinks and feels and who is prone to over-anxiety at the best of times. So, I had a couple of bad days. I feel better now. I’m ready to tackle a new week.
My agent is – as far as I know – beginning the work of copy-editing the book known to this blog as ‘Emmeline’ as we live and speak; perhaps that’s adding to my sense of Approaching Doom. It’s also the centenary of the outbreak of World War One at the moment (we watched a very emotional BBC broadcast from Westminster Abbey last night commemorating the declaration of war), and since even thinking about the Great War can set me off at the best of times, perhaps that’s part of it too. I just know that these ‘speed wobble’ moments, when you feel your hands slipping off the reins, are completely inconducive to general functionality. Sadly, they are part of existence. If you weren’t doing or being or trying anything, you would never feel yourself losing the plot a little, from time to time. I guess the speed wobbles remind you that you’re alive, and that you’re striving, and that you’re making progress.
Unfortunately it’s hard to keep working and producing and doing all the other vital and necessary and unavoidable things which are part and parcel of being a Responsible Adult when life starts feeling like a snowball rolling down a hill, and even more unfortunately we don’t get to have a choice about it. We’ve just got to keep going, no matter what. It’s a shame we don’t live in a world where we can call ‘time out’ on our lives when we don’t feel able to continue – just for a day or two, to let the speed wobble pass over us – but that’s the reality. Perhaps if we did live in a world which allowed us a little leeway when we started to feel overwhelmed we’d all start feeling less overwhelmed and it would be to the benefit of everyone. Who knows?
Anyway. On Friday, I managed to get almost halfway through my WiP, red pen in hand. I found one typo – I was aghast – where I’d written ‘of’ when I meant to write ‘if’, and I made three or four lengthy ‘notes to self’ along the lines of ‘But if that’s happening in chapter five, surely this should have to happen in chapter eight’ or ‘x, y or z on page eighty-seven just does not make sense, no matter what way I look at it,’ and – importantly, for me – I learned that, overall, the book is pretty decent. I’m the kind of person who, when they finish a piece of writing, feels really enthusiastic and full of beans – for about five minutes. After that time I slowly begin to convince myself that what I’ve written is a load of old pants, and I keep reminding myself of errors and shortcomings and possible plot-holes and things I’ve forgotten and clumsy phrasing and so on, until – in my memory – the work becomes a monster of horrifying proportions. This tendency has a couple of drawbacks: it leads to regular speed wobbles, for one, but it also makes it very hard to work up the courage to go back over my own work. I tend to have myself lathered into a frenzy by the time I get around to opening the document up again.
The only upside is that, sometimes, I find that things aren’t as dreadful as I remembered.
However, I have to tackle the book’s second half, now, which I know is less polished than the first half. I do realise I’m probably doing the whole ‘lathering into a frenzy’ thing again, but I also know my own work and its many shortcomings. I may give myself a day or two, just to be sure the speed wobble has done its worst, but knowing me I probably won’t.
Yeah. Let’s not kid ourselves. I’m just waiting for all you people to clear off out of here before I get started.
Have a wobble-free Tuesday, all.