For the last ten weeks, I’ve got up early to write my book. It’s been an experience that I won’t forget. It’s been hard. Very hard. For one, I don’t like getting up. But I have to. Because I know that if I don’t write first thing my mind will start filling up with trash. Even stuck out here in the middle of France my mind is a magnet for distraction. Left unused for a minute too long it starts taking idle thoughts too seriously and mincing them up into long strands of doubt and despair for me to ponder all day long. Poisonous.
For this reason, as soon as my alarm sounds at 7.45, I’m in a mad dash to get started before the clutter in my brain starts gathering like snow on the edge of a Christmas window.
‘Quick quick, Oggers,’ I cry to myself as I fumble my way down the ancient wooden staircase, half falling over, half dreaming about the pond and the ever-increasing water level that has been fascinating me for the past week – more on that later.
I untwist my Bialetti Moka coffee pot (it has to be Bialetti) and spoon feed it Super U Espresso (it has to be Super U) and whack it on the stove. ‘Full power and let’s go,’ I cry and do a dance in the hallway to warm myself up. Normally a moonwalk if you’re asking.
I quickly slice two pieces of bread and as I’m finishing lashing it with thick Elderberry jam (of the boiled dry sherry fame I mentioned last time), my coffee pot starts making its throaty warbling sound to indicate it’s ready. As a rule I want to be at my desk by 8.10. And that’s possible if I don’t get distracted by The Pond.
There’s a photo on my last entry showing me standing in The Pond playing my guitar. It was bone dry then and has been for much of the autumn. But last week the heavens opened and the pond starting to fill up like a slow poured pint of bitter.
It’s fed by a small stream that until last Tuesday never had more than a urinal’s worth of water in it. Now it’s flowing like it’s being fed from the toilets of a Wetherspoon. There is a real urgency about the way the water wants to make up for lost time and get into The Pond. As though showing me gratitude for enlarging it and clearing the leaves out of it over the summer. The Pond is now half full and still going.
I’ve written a lot of short pieces over the years but never a big body of writing. It’s been like building a tower from the odds and ends of wood I might have found in my dad’s cellar. The beginning was easy. Enough firm pieces of oak to lay the foundations on. Even a couple of feet up there was enough bits of sawn off pine to keep the book together. But as I climbed higher into the unknown, the good wood started to run low and I panicked. I had the ideas, they were pouring in like the water in the stream, but I was scared to put them down. I was standing on shaky ground and I knew that each new one had the devastating potential to bring the whole damn lot down. And I didn’t want that. Ten weeks of hard work crashing down in front of my sore aching eyes.
But I’ve learned that I’ve got to keep going. Get the story down. Soak it with ideas. Drench the blasted thing with every ounce of my imagination. Don’t let my old friend fear hold me back.
And that’s all I have to say. A simple bulletin on how things are going. As for The Pond, I’ll keep you posted. It’s fascinating. All our technology. All our fanciful ideas. Yet nothing can keep me from watching a twelve-inch wide stream flow into a two foot pond. It has kept me enthralled for hours I tell you. And a welcome situation indeed to look out of the window and see the lashing rain bring a deep rosy smile to my face. To think of The Pond filling up.