Unable to sleep the other night, I started listening to a wireless programme about Evelyn Waugh and the writing of his first novel – “Decline and Fall.” He was a strange cove to be sure – and, of course, married someone who was also called Evelyn. It must have made the arrangement of Secret Santa presents a complete nightmare.
Anyway, one of the experts said that Waugh had the habit of putting people he didn’t like into his books and then ridiculing them. Apparently he did this with the Dean of his college at Oxford, who appeared in book after book. The poor chap eventually had a complete breakdown and ended his life in a mental institution; the implication was that Waugh’s writing was no small factor in this.
I wonder if Waugh ever had a moment’s anxiety about the effect his writing might have when it was read by people who knew him; indeed by people who featured in it? Or did he just feel impelled to write using the material to hand, whatever the consequences? An analogy with the Charlie cartoonists springs to mind but I’m not confident enough to pursue it.
Perhaps, in order to do their job, proper writers need to distance themselves from worrying about the effect of their words on those around them. And the fact that I’ve got myself into a tizz about worrying or upsetting people, to extent of actually missing a week’s blog, proves – if proof were needed – that I’ll never make a proper writer.
If I were brave enough, I’d be writing about the fact that it’s been rather a struggle since I came off anti-depressants a couple of months ago.
If I weren’t worried about upsetting people, I’d particularly discuss the anomaly whereby it’s easy to talk about taking meds which stop my tremor by replacing the dopamine that my body isn’t making because I have Parkinson’s. But it’s really, really hard to talk about the fact that the same Parkinson’s has affected my serotonin levels – serotonin being the chemical that regulates mood – and that I need help with this too. The lack of one chemical feels like sheer bad luck; the lack of the other feels like I should be trying harder and counting my blessings. It also feels like I’m letting down those I care for, and who care for me.
I know, I know. But that’s how it feels.
So I’m not brave enough to write about this, which is a shame because, if I were, I could also thank the Parkinson’s nurse from the Royal Free who is helping me to get it sorted. And sorted it will be.
In the meantime, I need to find something less difficult about which I can write.
What about The Archers then? I loved Nancy Banks-Smith’s article in The Guardian last month, where she said:
“Look, I will close my eyes till Christmas and, when I open them, I expect you to have put EVERYTHING BACK THE WAY IT WAS. And we will say no more about it.”
It’s now past Christmas and we’re still waiting…