A path through unsullied snow

I know, it’s been a long time since the last post. That’s because of a whole range of real life issues, one of which was cutting open my hand due to this annoying nerve problem. It is an example of one of the hiccups that have to be factored into Pain Management: prioritisation. ‘I-want-to-write-a-post’ becomes ‘I-really-need-to’ and doesn’t quite make it into the ‘I-must’ category as it is pushed out by stories, essays and commentaries I am actually writing whilst in added pain.

The cut is annoying because it’s right on the ulnar nerve fingers, so seems to exacerbate/over-sensitize the pain, making it seem the finger is about to fall off. It isn’t, of course – it just hurts as the cut was deep – but added pain is always an extra burden. I’ve had to be strict with relaxation/pacing/distraction, use more drugs and focus on what needs to be done: the Final Project for the MA.

I’ve also deliberately taken a few ‘outs’ and written for a couple of competitions and some SF shorts which might come out soon. The reason is simple: to give myself a sense of satisfaction over finishing something.  One of thr problems with the MA is that you are forever going back over the 15-18K words of work submitted and editting it, making it impossible to finish the story and develop a fully coherent picture of what is going on.  That brings on frustration which, in turn, brings on more pain.

So, to manage it, I need to give myself a greater sense of achievement than is achieved through completing another set of edits on another chapter of an unfinished book. Sure, editing needs to be done, and the comments are great, but it is a lot easier when you’re working on a whole work rather than revisiting an incomplete opus. It also goes against the ‘finish it before editing’ ethos we have been regularly advised to hold to the fore on this course. More frustration for breaking golden rules!

So, to lift my spirits I’ve started a series of SF shorts and have found I really quite like the principal protagonists: one is cocky, confident, brash and just plain lucky whilst his opponent is scheming, full of misdirection and great at just surviving. I picture the characters easily and can build their stories.

A good boost.

The other is writing two versions of the same story, in first- and second-person viewpoints. It’s a historical account inspired by the family history into which I added more – only to find that what I had made up, adjusted and added was closer to the truth than I realised. It’s fiction, of course, but writing from first- then second-person proved to be a fascinating challenge and great fun.  We’ll see if it gets anywhere, but if not I’ll put up both here for a comparison.

The fun and sense of achievement was what was needed in both cases. Don’t get me wrong: I enjoy writing and like improving work, but when I’m battling the pain something more is needed. Travelling new paths, through unsullied snow, was what was needed.

And finally, now the finger is healing, I can get a blog post out. I hope all those who read this had a great Christmas and have a wonderful 2016.

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