As a novelist, says Anna Burns, her job is “to show up and be present and attend. It’s a waiting process.” She “just had to wait for my characters to tell me their stories.”
(Interview by Alison Flood in The Guardian, 16 Oct ’18)
This obviously worked for Anna Burns as she has just bagged the Booker Prize with her novel Milkman.
I, however, have spent a lifetime waiting for characters to turn up and write themselves into a book but they haven’t done so yet and I’m rather starting to fear they never will. I go to bed having put out my finest stationery but masterpieces come there none. Not so much as a shopping list; not so much as a tweet. Perhaps the characters have used up all their best ideas writing other people’s books. They have no more twists.
On which basis, I’m afraid I’ve made a start without them. I’ve been working my way through my old blogs: saving and printing and reading and somehow I’m going to turn these into a book. Not just a random collection of blogs – a proper book, with a beginning, a middle, an end and a bookmark. As yet, I haven’t quite worked out how but I will. You’ll see.
It’s been an experience in itself, reading through these old blogs. My first – you’ll remember – was on 29th October 2012 so that’s six whole years of blather. The early ones were almost all about Parkinson’s; since my diagnosis in May 2012, I’d been on quite a steep learning curve and it was rather playing on my mind at the time.
Rereading these blogs, I seemed at one stage to be moving towards an understanding of what having Parkinson’s entails. But that was the confidence of the novice: nowadays, I’m much more aware of the diversity of the condition.
I’ve got the tremor-dominant sort of Parkinson’s; there are people who don’t have tremor but do have rigidity, say, or freezing, or balance issues or a hybrid. Our experiences, it was explained at a research update meeting, differ as much as those of people with different sorts of cancer – a key consideration for those brilliant researchers who are working towards a cure, in order to get the right treatment for the right sort of Parkinson’s.
Digressing for a moment, if you’re interested in delving into the science of Parkinson’s, there’s an excellent blog called, um, The Science of Parkinson’s. The blog is the work of Dr Simon Stott, who works for the Cure Parkinson’s Trust and posts “regular updates on what is happening in the world of Parkinson’s research, explaining the science behind the new discoveries, keeping you up to date with clinical trial results, and introducing you to some of the people doing the research.” The blog is well-written with welcome humour and bags of scientific detail. It’s also very regularly updated.
Pardon? Unlike some blogs you can mention?
Well, that’s a bit of a sore subject. I rather resent you bringing it up, actually. Churlish, I call it. I’ve changed my mind, now, about reminding you of the cornucopia of delights contained in my non-Parkie blogs; a positive paradise of pleasure. You’ll just have to wait for the book. Should be along soon.
Shall we have a sing while we wait?