Tuesday, 31 March 2009

Killing Me Softly

It sounds like the most arrogant kind of ingratitude, but when my boss told me that I write beautifully, it really didn’t fill me with the delight that it should have. Please don’t think I wasn’t happy to hear that my work is appreciated – who doesn’t like hearing praise? It’s just that for fifteen years I’d nurtured the dream of being an author, but I’d just returned to work after the crushing post-NaNoWriMo realisation that I was even worse at creative writing than that small voice inside me had been droning for some time. I’d confronted the dashing to smithereens of my dream, no less shocking even though I knew it was built on the shaky foundations of a conspicuous lack of talent and drive. So, praise for reports produced for the Department of Meat Products, though gratifying in its way, was killing me softly: a dagger slid between my ribs during a friend’s embrace. I felt rather as I imagine a classical pianist who aspires to concert fame would, on being congratulated for the most technically correct scales the auditor had ever heard.

Worse, now my reputation for ‘beautiful reports’ on inspiring subjects such as the relative qualities of lard and suet has spread. Despite becoming somewhat of a joke among my peers, my commonplace ability to pen informative and concise reports with acceptable grammar and spelling has grown into exaggerated mythical proportions, and I tremble like an overgrown poppy on my too-slender stem, waiting for the humbling blow to fall. Will it be a noun-verb disagreement? Bad syntax? An unfortunate reference to Mr. Willy Dick’s delicious sausage?

As sensible as I am of my own inherent failings, I must be allowed to plead the oh-so-slightly mitigating circumstance of my compounded and extended case of baby-brain. Almost fifteen months after the birth of Neptune (baby number three), its effects on my powers of retention and recall have barely abated. My brain still feels horribly slow and stupid and foggy and completely unfit for applying to higher-order skills. Words elude me like butterflies flitting from my clumsy grasp, to the extent that attempting to draft a simple report on 'Worst Wurst' has driven me close to tears for want of a simile. Needless to say (though say it I will) my attempts at story writing are more painstaking yet noticeably poorer than they were five years ago. I even consulted my doctor about my distressing condition, and although I passed the dementia test with enough conviction to avoid being bundled off to the Alzheimer’s ward just yet, I wasn’t comforted by her assurance that my former brain function (such as it was) would probably begin to return in five years’ time or so.

The alarming thing is, a mot juste is no longer the dearest thing my motherhood-addled brain is costing me. Last week I was nearly cleaned up by a truck when I momentarily forgot who had the right-of-way at a four-way intersection. Perhaps my language centre is not the only part of my brain inhibited by post-natal hormones, because instead of being cautious during that time of uncertainty, I swung out on the road, confident in my erroneous judgement, and was lucky the truck driver was paying attention. I got away with an angry and well-deserved blast from the truck driver’s horn; cheap punishment indeed, considering my children were with me and could have been injured or maimed or killed. Of course I am now determined to drive like the most frustrating old granny if that’s what it takes to get where I’m going safely, but given that in some alternate universe Mr. Lonie’s entire family died due to his wife’s unreliable brain, taking disproportionately long to slave over a piece of unfulfilling writing doesn’t seem that important. Between killing me softly with words and killing me dead with a ten tonne truck, I'll take the pain of a, "Beautiful report, Lonie!" any day.


Lonie Polony said...

I promise that's the last moaning I'll do about writing. For now :)

Roy said...

even in these moanings about writing, you have not missed out on similies and metaphors!

Lonie Polony said...

Ah, Roy, I'll let you in on something. That humble blog post? It took me hours, over two sessions. That's the reality of my brain power these days. But don't tell anyone - it's a secret :)