fear of desire/fear of completion:

i was 8 or 9 when i learnt my dad was going to die: that he had parkinson’s disease, which wz incurable, and that he wz unlikely to live more than another ten years. i don’t actually remember being told, which is possibly telling in itself: it feels like something i just somehow knew. my guess is: i sat quietly, absorbing or not absorbing the news, and processed it as someone small is likely to, by putting it all inside on some emtoional-mental shelf, and not thinking about it, or rather, not thinking about what it meant. as a family, we coped: well, i think. we became expert at living in the moment, enjoying today, putting off the deadly future until it arrived – don’t live in dread; something will come up! and of course what i learnt at 8 or 9 wz wrong, at least in the specifics. my dad is going to die and so am i and so are you, but it’s now very nearly 40 years since he was diagnosed, and he’s going strong. something DID come up – l-dopa was synthesised in 1968.

as a tactic, denial paid off. as a strategy, it comes with a cost. already aged 10-11-12, i wz shy abt declaring myself: part of the lesson i think i absorbed was, no WANTING. to announce your interests and needs and aims and dreams is to banish them, to trash them: if we were keeping dad alive by just taking his presence for granted, then by logic WHAT YOU ASK FOR YOU WILL NEVER GET. And the other part, increasingly, and by my mid-30s i think nearly pathologically, was an inability to finish things: to finish things i wz reading or writing; to finish pots of jam or cartons of milk; to dot the final i and cross the final t: the way i wrote and the way i lived had become a blizzard of ways to begin the next thing before the last wz over. including a whole raft (at least in my writing) of mini-tactics of faux completion: using deadlines – the demands of others- as an excuse for triage, i have never handed in anything which didn’t contain at least one paragraph, one idea, one strand or aspect which i secretly knew i’d just abandoned in mid-flow, not worked through, not completed, not tidied up into coherence or non-contradiction. sometimes it wd be cut; sometimes left. komikal exercise for my longer-term readers: track down and identify this section, in anything and everything i’ve ever had published!

i planned to post this the moment i saw that ‘fear’ was blog seven’s theme, several weeks back: but of course i’ve left it till the final morning, and spent this last month not thinking abt what i wd write. i can actually (sort of) do it at all bcz the spell is broken – my first book is pubished next week, and my mother, very dangerously ill two months ago, is out of hospital and off the danger list. intellectually i know that – while she is still an invalid; while there’s still the possibility of dangerous relapse – this is NOT going to have been caused by my arrival at the point i first imagined setting out for the moment i wz aware that i loved reading more than anyone round me: the point, in other words, of “becoming a writer”. completing a book did NOT bring about her hospitalisation, and, come what may, whatever health dangers face her are NOT going to have been caused by finishing this paragraph and publishing this post [insert full stop here]