For a few weeks now, I’ve been itching to have the flat to myself. I was tired of getting up, going to work, coming home and going to bed. I felt like I was on a treadmill. I wanted to watch a film from beginning to end. I’m utterly unable to do that with my wife in the house, and because she lost her job, she’s in the house more often than not.
I don’t mean to sound uncharitable. I love my wife, I love the time we spend together. I also know that my wife now doesn’t see or speak to many people now, so if I have a day off, she will adjust her timetable to spend it with me. So, if she was planning to visit her family, she will simply go on another day.
When we’re watching the telly together, we tend to watch the programmes she likes. Which means soap operas, Loose Women and Judge Rymner, programmes which drive me up the wall. I would much rather watch a film, perhaps even one we both like. God, I’d rather sit through Dirty Dancing than Coronation Street. I love horror films, which I know she’s not wild about. I don’t want to issue a diktat. I don’t want her to feel, just because she’s not working, she has no say in what we watch. And I know she fights depression on a daily basis. But I have felt so frustrated, with the dvds all staring at me, having to see them in 15-minute instalments just before bedtime.
My wife attends a course on Wednesday mornings, but I never seem to get Wednesdays off. So I made a plan. I booked myself a day’s leave last Wednesday without telling her. On the morning, when she woke up, I told her that I’d rung in sick. She volunteered to miss a class to look after me, but I told her that I’d be fine.
As soon as she was out the door, I put on the first Christopher Lee Dracula. A quarter of the way in, I dozed off and missed the rest of it.
I know why I’ve become so obsessive, lately, about watching films. I’ve become particularly desperate to write fiction. I’ve been itching to write a horror radio play for at least a year, now, and lately I’ve also had the hankering to write a contemporary novel, too. But I haven’t had the right idea for either project.
I’ve done everything that I know inspired me in the past. I’ve written Morning Pages (see Julia Cameron’s The Artist’s Way), and I’ve done Writing Practice (see Natalie Goldberg’s Writing Down The Bones). I’ve listened to radio drama, I’ve started reading an Ann Tyler novel. I’ve read horror fiction and I’ve watched horror films. I’ve cut out stories from tabloids and I’ve researched facts. None of it has helped.
At the weekend, I fished out The Artist’s Way and Natalie Goldberg’s Wild Mind (I couldn’t find my copy of Writing Down The Bones), and I began rereading them. And I came to a decision: that I would not attempt to write fiction until I got the right idea. A specific story idea, one which excited me and one which I felt confident in writing. I am not going to force it. I’ll wait however long it takes for my muse to present it to me.