The routine is killing my sense of adventure. There are vast plains and forests out there and yet the walled garden is holding my attention. And it isn’t the beauty of the roses, but the endless weeding that is holding me. I tell myself that today I must repair this and maintain that, that I must do right by this person or that. I look into the still pond and see my reflection against a black background. In that image is tiredness and lost hope. In the eyes, a cloud of blindness creeping in. Why isn’t the gate in the wall open? Why can’t I just step through it into the open space again?
The writing took everything. The MA was a huge investment of love and care and self-worth, and when it stopped, the process had been externalized – ever fibre had been refocused on pleasing others, eventually one person. She chose to extract the last drops, and then more. She wanted it to be more than I wanted to give. The stories became overworked, massaged to pulp. The ownership transferred and suddenly it was over, before I could regain them. It. Is that how the public takes the artist’s life away? Is that what the publisher or gallery owner can do? I think she would say that it was a learning exercise, and that she was only doing right by me to push and squeeze to the last. But in the cyclicity which I operate, this is the largest orbit I have taken. The parabola had, at its outermost curve – what’s that called? – a huge slingshot (to quote The Martian) – a multiple of the G forces of most adventures, and the landing has been harder than I can remember. I suppose it’s like many adventures: they end and there is a vacuum in their wake.