Fighting Viruses and the Void

I’ve spent the morning in bed, drinking chili infusion with honey and lemon in the hope that this will clear up my airways and unclog my mind. My sinuses are plugged, my throat is raw, I have blisters in my mouth, and my eyes are burning. This weekend we hiked up Arthur’s Seat (the mountain in the middle of Edinburgh) with a new friend, a microbiologist who studies viruses. While we climbed up high above Edinburgh, we talked about her work and she explained to me the genius of viruses in their perpetual attack on living cells. I think I got infected just from listening to her. I had never thought of life as being under constant assault from alternative, non-life forms of existence that are trying to destroy us by penetrating our cells and sabotaging our DNA… but here it is, happening right in my nose and my throat!

Anyway, I have decided that a virus attack should not stop me from writing. I’ve made a new resolution: I am going to write a new blog entry every week. I need discipline and a routine to regain my inspiration to write. When I wrote two weeks ago about my panic at facing excess leisure time, I was, of course, actually describing writer’s block: the dread that crops up when you finally have time to write and, facing the blank computer screen and empty calendar, suddenly nothing seems to matter anymore. To be honest, in the two years since I completed my MFA, I haven’t had time to do much serious creative writing and now that I officially have time – I’ve quit my job and announced to everyone that I will be writing – I am terrified that I have nothing to say.

My most inspiring ideas are usually the ones at the periphery of my mind, the ones I put aside for later because I’m too busy. Once I turn my full attention to them, they tend to melt away and seem trivial and meaningless.

It’s an ongoing struggle to keep convincing yourself that what you’re doing is relevant, especially if there’s no external confirmation that anyone else actually cares. I don’t think it’s just writing: almost every human activity will seem questionable when you look at it too closely.  My theory is that the threat of that empty page or empty time is always there and that the only way to battle it is to just keep going and not let it catch up with you. Because when you turn around and look at your life too closely, you’ll find that there’s nothing there.

So, more chilli-lemon infusion now, and, tomorrow, more writing! I will bravely hold out against the forces of destruction, both physical and spiritual!