I considered and lamented the uselessness and the wretchedness of my existence, how fruitless my life now was, both to myself and to others; how of old I had been of some service to the clerics whom I had now abandoned for the sake of these monks, so that I was no longer able to be of use to either; how incapable I had proved myself in everything I had undertaken or attempted, so that above all others I deserved the reproach, “This man began to build, and was not able to finish” (Luke xiv. 30).

(P. Abelard, Historia Calamitatum, tr.  H.A. Bellows)

i’m now averaging about 1000 words a day on the rewrite of my novel. Given i began the beast nearly 8 years ago one might reasonably, if not justly, accuse me of wasting my time. Several people who haven’t spent years writing novels have told me i should just accept that my novel is crap and leave it alone; i’ve been confidently told that i should “move on” as if i have anything to move on to. Alas i am not a le Carré-like novelist, able to turn out a novel every two years. i either have something to write about or i don’t. At present i have nothing else to write about, so i am not robbing some hypothetical second novel of the chance to be born, by rewriting the first.

In any case, 11,000 words into the task it is working – what i have written is good; i don’t care if other people disagree – their opinions are merely their opinions, of no value to me. It is not written for other people, or even for myself, but for itself. i feel that in some sense it already exists, and i am merely midwifing the transition from imaginative to physical reality. It is important to remain undistracted by notions of what will appeal to “the public”, or even to my friends – or to myself. And when (if) i can create it aright, fulfil that obligation to the shape i can feel in my mind, it will then please others; but that is in a sense incidental. Luckily, i know it will be unpublishable, since i am not a footballer or celebrity chef or Page 3 model, so i have no reason to consider the opinions of others.

i am mindful that i will only get about half way through before i run out of time, unless i can speed up to 2000 words a day. i can’t see myself writing the second half as one of K___’s tramps, since the laptop only has about 90 minutes of battery time and i doubt i’d survive long enough on the streets (my asthma would probably finish me off, now i have no medication – a friend posted me some but it never turned up).

i’ve been thinking of Leto, mother of Artemis and Apollo. Hounded by the malevolent Hera  she wanders the earth looking for a place to give birth to Zeus’ children. Everywhere she goes she meets opposition, till finally she comes to Delos, and there she gives birth to the divine twins. Would it be infanticide if she had committed suicide instead? i suppose so but on the other hand if there was no place for her on the earth, if in a sense she did not belong in the world, then suicide would simply be the fulfilling of her destiny.

That is to say, suicide is the loosing of the Gordian knot.