Dear Pain in the You-Know-What:
I have not emailed you in a while, but there are I think good reasons. Here I am, about 2/3rds finished with the draft to my 3rd massive historical romantic extravaganza – so I think I am on target for Christmas – and I am exhausted. But it is not the book that is exhausting me, it is other stuff.
First, my mother-in-law, now just turned 90, had a serious fall in early May. She was in hospital for 2 days after shattering a wrist and breaking a finger and bashing her forehead on the ground on the sidewalk near her London house. She has been with us, about 30 miles north, since two weeks after and we have been taking her to the doctor and hospital appointments. She has made an excellent and unexpected recovery and is going back to her own house next week.
She started with us barely able to walk. I had to help her up and down our stairs. Fortunately, we have been able to be at home one of us nearly all of the time as we felt we could not leave her alone really. The effort required to care for someone 24 hours a day potentially is largely unappreciated by most people. I was close to doing so with my mom in 2015 just before she died. And this with her was totally unexpected, but we have gotten through it.
However, to try to write a novel while she is in the lounge next door or in her bedroom upstairs across from my office as she is blasting the television with Wimbledon and rooting out loud – “Good shot! Brilliant! Robert, who is this girl with the Romanian name? Is she English? She’s marvellous.” – or she has her iPad on with game shows on while shouting out answers as if the recorded program can hear her – “Neil Kinnock! Kinnock! It was Neil Kinnock! How stupid are you!” – is not entirely helpful to my authoring concentration or to my creativity.
She also wants to chat during the day and we do understand why. She is very social. But she at times is also evidently baffled that we can’t just sit around with her for 2 hour stretches uninterrupted – that we do have important things to do, including, you know, uh, work (even if fortunately from home).
Second, there was this beaut. My wife went into her office in north London ONE F-CKING DAY the last week in June and on a Sunday evening days after gets an emergency email from the boss. COVID possible exposure through others from a colleague who has it! Fortunately she was not directly exposed to that sick colleague, and we are all double-jabbed, thank God. But she still needed to take a test, so we got a package of the home one. As she felt she could not do it to herself, I administered the test to her twice. I am a husband not a f-cking scientist! Thank God, NEGATIVE. Twice. F-ck Covid.
Somehow, through the likes of all that, the novel is still getting written. When it is finished you will see I have, again, lost my mind. Still, I had a moment over the weekend where I sat back and decided to entirely alter a secondary and important new character because the subplot with her did not “sit right” with me. There is no shame in that, of course. Far better to get it correct now than lament it after publication – when you CANNOT redo it.
Some other writer I follow is hoping to get one of her books made into a film or TV or streamed. Best of luck, I think. But, eh, you never know. They have so much streaming space to fill now, they could film just about anything. Yet I don’t want that unless it is done to a good standard. I think I have got quite a potential film or miniseries here perhaps someday, but nothing would be worse to me, in some ways, than an awful adaptation of these or any of my books. Yes, you get some money, sure, but a lousy screen adaptation would still feel, well, lousy.
I also blogged the other day about subscribing to another author’s newsletter. So I won’t go into that, (The post is here.) I blogged about it… because the newsletter really is just blogging by another name, so I don’t see the point to one for myself. Now that I know what they are, I do NOT want to see anyone else lecture me that I NEED a newsletter! Arrgh!
Lastly, I am also getting “cranky” about the book in progress. I notice this happens about this time whenever I am writing a book. I look at it all and see what I have done… and I hate it all. That is then made worse when I see happy happy happy authors on Instagram posting about how “blessed” they feel about everything from walking in the garden to a coffee to sunshine, and I want to throw my PC out of my window. I find I cannot help but think: What planet are you on? Or are you doing mari-jah-wah-na?
Maybe I should partake of some of what a great aunt called “the mari-jah-wah-na” that I was such a square I would never try when I was young and actually sensible? Would that relax me? You know of my uncle who eventually did heroin after starting with pot at around age 13, and his life was mostly a drugged mess until he died at 48 in 1994, so pot was kinda a turn off to me growing up and I never thought Cheech and Chong were funny at all. Oh, but booze is worse? Look, we know what booze is and what it does if it is abused because it has been in our civilization basically forever; it was long part of it even by the time of the Last Supper
for, uh, Heaven’s sakes. Compared to alcohol, we – well, some few – have been smoking pot for all of 15 minutes so any health issues are still largely unresearched over the long-term. But given how it is commonly injested frankly the mari-jah-wah-na is probably more accurately compared with tobacco; it’s a plant that is usually smoked. Yet we are apparently to believe the mari-jah-wah-na is a healthy and happy solution to just about everything – including I’m guessing climate change – and the only smoke we can suck into our lungs that does NOT cause cancer or some other deadly illness like heart failure. Uh, okay, riiiiiiiiiiight. Get back to me in 2120 or so after a few generations of widespread mari-jah-wah-na use among US adults and medical studies not funded by soon-to-be Big Mari-jah-wah-na companies and we’ll talk then again about it being “harmless.” (If Philip Morris is not shifting into the mari-jah-wah-na business from the demon cigs, what the hell are they doing?) Until then, ya wanna get mellow, fine – but just don’t drive or operate heavy equipment. It’s all about freedom, of course.
Meanwhile the communist Chinese goosestepping police state gulag-operating thugs are crushing democracy in Hong Kong, putting tens of millions in “re-education” camps, constructing militarized artificial islands, building a massive navy and air force, and even a space program – all largely funded courtesy of us (we are idiots) since the early 1990s. (And to say nothing of their culpability for a pandemic.) So pardon me if I pause to question if we should have hoped our big American accomplishment marker for this early-middle 21st century was maybe not pot shops. But, eh, whatever, ’cause we’re, like, uh, progressives, dude.
Anyway, to another about once in a century happening: England’s men won last night, so they have qualified for a major soccer final for the first time since 1066… sorry, sorry, 1966. (Following England at times makes it feel like being a New York Jets fan is to follow a winner.) The wife is ecstatic… and bl-ody so am I, because when England loses she gets a bit annoyed… and we don’t have any of the mari-jah-wah-na in the house! LOL!
Anyway, that is more than enough for this, uh, post. Or call it today’s authoring newsletter if you want. I know you over in Bernie-ville, Vermont probably want to go have a smoke of some of your mari-jah-wah-na, so have at it, toker. Happy belated 4th of July!
Best to you and yours,