I’ve joined the NaNoWriMo competition this month and thought I’d share an excerpt from my writing, since this passage in particular has a lot to do with what I usually write about here.
For those who don’t know much about it, it’s basically a bit of a competition to see who can write 50 000 words of a novel in the month of November. There are communities all over the world taking part and it is the challenge I’ve set for myself this month. So far I’m actually a little bit behind but I’m not worried yet. Of course 50 000 words doesn’t make a novel, but the aim is to see whether you can maintain the momentum and just get the words down. If you can, then it seems like a pretty good sign that you’d be able to go the distance and write a full novel, or the first draft at least.
This is my first attempt at fiction and I’m posting a piece here just to keep you informed of what I’m up to and hopefully to give you something to think about in the passage below. If all goes well I might be encouraging you to buy a copy some time soon! The working title is Meaning(lessness) and hence the title of today’s post.
By the way, Lilla is a GP and Emma is a patient.
Well, here goes:
Emma also wanted to hear what Lilla might think about why she was going to see Mr Georgiou. She hadn’t told anyone yet that she was going to go and see a therapist or how she had been feeling. Coming here today was supposed to help her make it all real. She decided she would give Lilla a little more information and see how far this went.
“Jonathon Georgiou deals with existential problems and provides guidance for those who are vividly aware of the existential problems they face.”
Emma could see that this information had not enlightened Lilla any further and that in fact she was not familiar with anything Emma was saying. Lilla had twisted slightly towards her computer monitor, almost like a reflex, indicating her need to google everything that Emma had just said. But Emma continued.
“I’ve been feeling inexplicably down for months, and even years now. Nothing significant has happened. There’s been no death, no traumatic experiences, no loss of any kind. In fact, it is because life hasn’t changed that much at all that I find myself feeling this way. I’m depressed and I know it. It’s not a crippling depression in the usual sense, and most people who don’t know me probably haven’t even noticed. But I know that I’m functioning on some substandard level.”
Emma couldn’t believe she was explaining it, that the words were coming out of her mouth and were making so much sense. She’d rehearsed this to herself so many times, feeling the need to convince herself that what she was going through was legitimate and that it was ok to seek help. Even so, she hadn’t really expected that she’d be able to articulate herself so clearly, so matter-of-factly, here and now.
Lilla had turned back towards Emma unconsciously and was leaning forwards now, as if to make sure she didn’t miss one word of what Emma was saying. It seemed as though Emma had reached into the gurgling pit in Lilla’s own stomach and found a way to explain what was going on there. Lilla felt paralysed to the spot and at the same time wanted to press rewind and then replay everything Emma had just shared.
“At first I thought I was just tired and needed a break. Or maybe I just needed to change things up in my life. Then I started doing some reading and I realised that essentially what had happened was that I had lost any sense of hope. I used to feel life was going somewhere and now I know that really it goes nowhere. I suppose I used to believe that life was some sort of quest, and in childhood at least, it certainly seems that way. We have so many obstacles to jump, so many tests to pass; all in the belief that we are going places. It’s as if when you reach adulthood you suddenly feel stranded, like you’ve been kicked off the movie set that you thought was real life.”
Emma paused to make sure what she was saying was striking at the heart of the matter. Lilla was now sitting back in her chair with her arms perched on the arm rests, as if ready to spring up out of the chair at any moment. Lilla suddenly felt very uncomfortable and restless. She could if she wanted to, cut this appointment short and just write the damned referral. And yet, she couldn’t stop listening.
“I guess what I’m saying is, now I know for sure that life is meaningless. There is no quest, no journey, no meaning, no purpose. We’re all here by accident, that’s all. For me, this knowledge is a burden of huge proportions. It’s like I’ve been given this boulder to carry and for the life of me I can’t figure out what to do next. I’m just sitting here in the shade of this enormous boulder like I’m within its gravitational pull or something. I know logically that I can walk away, but I don’t know how.”
Emma looked at Lilla and found it odd the way she was sort of peering at her, as if suspicious and yet intrigued all at the same time. Emma had been expecting some sort of “Hmm, that’s really interesting”, but it seemed that Lilla was unable to talk.
“So anyway, apparently what I’m struggling with is how to get over this existential angst that I’m feeling. Existential ideas are supposed to be liberating yet I just feel imprisoned. I should be delighted with the freedom of choice I have available and the knowledge that life is what you make it. Instead I feel burdened. I’m paralysed. I can’t do it.”
If you have something constructive or kind you’d like to say then I’d love to hear from you