Hazel McHaffie


No experience wasted

Earlier this year I had a run of unexpected distractions; disappointments, bad news, sad news, demands … you know the kind of things that can sneak into the weeks and make a mockery of diary dates and deadlines. Of the end-of-life-as-we-know-it variety. Too troubling to write about at the time, hence the time-delay. Result? Not much space for creative thinking; frustration and tension set in; vicious circle takes over.

At the time it prompted me to do a thorough stock-take of commitments and lifestyle and make a few resolutions – intended to be more enduring that the New Year sub-species.
• De-clutter the diary
• Give up some commitments permanently (hmmmm)
• Prioritise more astutely
• Learn to say no (been there often, not done that)
• Set conscience button to off
• Act my age (phew! certain persons of my intimate acquaintance will look decidedly sceptical by this point)

OK; sound in principle. But paradoxically, far from freeing me up, the exercise left me feeling substandard. Surely I ought to be able to juggle more demands than this. Cue further self-analysis. Where had I gone wrong? Where had my get-up-and-go got up and gone? More hairshirt and self-flagellation. All more lowering than therapeutic.

But hey! I’ve discovered there’s a rainbow on the obverse side of this unwelcome coin. Because for a writer, any experience no matter how dismal has potential. And … well, I’m already putting this particular spell of navel-gazing to good use; getting further inside the head of one or two of my characters who are going through a tough time. Which is why I mention it now when the writing is flowing. I’ve had a brilliant week because of it.

But in the immortal words of Henry Kissinger: There can’t be a crisis next week. My schedule is already full.

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