Given I had my first positive Covid test on Saturday (and am guessing I picked up the virus the previous Wednesday) I was a bit disappointed when I took a test this evening and got a positive result (albeit one with a much fainter line). I guess the minor symptoms of the occasional cough and mildly sore throat when I get stressed are still there. But I feel pretty much normal overall and got loads of writing work done today - I knocked out about 3000 words in all, taking my new book to over 10,000 words. Just 70,000 to go now. I think I might not quite hit the deadline on this one.
Once again this blog has proven invaluable when writing autobiography. I don’t think I would remember 90% of what happened last year unless I’d documented it at the time. For the early part of the book I don’t have quite as much blog stuff, as I don’t tend to write about the more personal stuff, generally trying to find the funny rather than let you know about my deep, deep emotions. Luckily some funny stuff happened in my early appointments that I couldn’t resist writing about and that initial scan where I had to prove my identity several times (as if loads of men were trying to get into the hospital to get their balls scanned - it’s not impossible to believe) and then had to delicately hide my penis while the scanning technician went to town on my bollocks. I didn’t though write about the fact that they unexpectedly found something in there after the GP had said he was pretty much certain that they wouldn’t or how that made me feel - I was in a daze and slightly in denial about it all and can’t remember anything about my immediate reaction, apart from the fact I scraped my car on the way out of the car park, as I was a little distracted. I also didn’t write about the phone call from the GP where he confirmed that there was something unusual going on and I could hear his voice shaking and it suddenly hit me that this whole thing was real. That’s when I had my only major wobble and as a result pretty much all of that part is pretty clear in my memory, though it’s very hard to put all the feelings I had in that few minutes into words or into the right order.
But after I’d gone public on what was happening, my blog becomes a lot more useful not just about what was going on in my scrotum, but the more banal things that were happening in life as I waited for some clarity on all of this (remember it wasn’t until they’d taken the ball out and looked at it under a microscope that they could actually confirm it was cancer).
What I am saying is, if you’re a writer, or want to be one (or even if you just have an unreliable memory or are a tired new parent and want to be able to look back on your life at a later date), write a daily diary. You don’t have to put it online - that kind of thing is very 2002 and you’d have to be a bit weird to still be doing it twenty years later. But making the time to write a 1000 word chunk about your day- EVERY DAY (because if you don’t make it a habit then you’ll miss a day and then a week and then a year - I found a notebook where I started to record my personal thoughts about becoming a dad the other day, and it was lovely and interesting and would be a beautiful gift to my daughter when she’s older, but I only managed about three longish entries and then one more about a month later and then nothing. I know there’s stuff in here about all that, but again, not quite as emotionally honest and I regret not keeping that other diary going- though fully understand that I was much too knackered and busy to do it) - will be really rewarding and I think, useful to understanding yourself.
I don’t think I could really write about this experience properly without the blog to remind me of events (and having something there helps prompt memories of the bits I didn’t write about). This exercise began as a way to get me writing and to maybe draw people to my website, but it’s turned out to be so much more. I don’t think I’d have returned to stand up without it (or at least, I wouldn’t have realised that so many things could become stand up routines), I couldn’t have written my autobiographical books without it and I wouldn’t be being studied by future historians as a wise commentator on early 21st Century life without it (hi guys - how’s life underwater? Sorry about leaving so many lights on).
In book terms the blog is something that I find very hard to do with writing - it’s a vomit draft. The first version you write where you just get everything down without trying to make it pretty or concise, which you then revise and revise and revise. It does mean that I can be a fortnight from my deadline and still think there’s a possibility of hitting it, because with a fair wind behind me I can get 10,000 words a day done (I think I managed about 25,000 words of How Not To Grow Up in three days - after months of stasis, most of that book got written in the last week).
I think the new book will be a bit too complex to finish in a fortnight and my editor has already indicated that I can have more time, but I want to get the story down first, find out how many words that takes and then work out what other elements of testicles this work is going to include.
Importantly I worked pretty efficiently today and more importantly I really enjoyed it. Writing books is the hardest of the writing jobs, but today I ended up thinking this is how I should spend my days. Let’s see how I feel tomorrow.