I have not been well recently. The last few days have passed in something of a blur. Eating, coughing, sleeping, waking. Repeat, but not necessarily in that order. Stir vigorously and return to the oven for a further 20 minutes until done.
My thoughts have not always seemed my own. I did, for example, find myself with a pen in hand writing out a poem at some strange hour, early on Thursday morning. I hadn’t slept a wink and this poem had burrowed itself into my head. Ignore it, I thought, for it is an ill-formed and incomplete thing. But it was also an insistent thing. It wrote itself out, patiently, while I attempted to pretend that it wasn’t there. Eventually, complete and shiny in its newness, it tapped me on the shoulder and asked if I wouldn’t mind perhaps jotting it down somewhere before it became lost and adrift and, once again, insubstantial. So I did. And then, because I was up and incapable of sleep, I watched the Match of the Day that I had missed at the weekend. Such was my time spent that night.
What strikes me as curious about this incident (and yes, it was indeed in the nighttime) was that I penned a poem. Or, at least, I allowed it to be written down; who knows who wrote it. For poetry is something that I am completely and perfectly unequipped and unqualified for. I do not know the first thing about poetry – although I do know how to pronounce Slough, which put me at an advantage over my GCSE English teacher, an American, who didn’t; “please turn in your books to the poem sloff” caused no end of confusion and, eventually, much merriment, an emotion that I am not sure Betjeman was aiming for. Poetry is a foreign country; one where I can admire the bright colours and fantastic spicy smells, all the while having not a clue as to what is actually going on.
But there you go. In my illness-addled state, I wrote something that, at half past midnight, kind of looked a little bit like it might be a poem. If you squinted and didn’t think about it too much.
I have submitted it to the poetry corner of the short story writing group of which I am an occasional contributor (and about which I wrote a bit more here). I have not yet had their feedback, but I shall be interested to know what they think. Have I, in my illness, created something beautiful and moving, the like of which has never been seen before? Or have I, in my pitiful state, created such terrible drudgery, the like of which has never been seen before? We shall see.
On the topic of awaiting feedback, I have recently submitted my first short story for consideration for publication. I have only recently managed to organise myself sufficiently to the point where I have an appropriate story in place by the appropriate deadline, meaning that I have actually been able to send it off, to sit in the pile on the magazine editor’s desk. Or whatever virtual approximation of an in-tray sits on the editor’s virtual desk. I await their feedback also.
And my organisational skills do not stop there. I have picked out several more possible publications that might just like what I do. Or, at the least, might be willing to let my stories into their in-tray, if not their magazines. One of these is asking for an Alice in Wonderland-inspired tale (I know that’s not the title – go with me, I’m ill) and this poses a problem, or an opportunity. For I have not read Alice and, if I am to be inspired, then probably I should. I think it is time that I jumped down the rabbit hole.
Although, perhaps I should give it a day or two. I am two Lemsip to the good and I fear for my dreams…