[field of gold in Pollok Country Park*]
But, while output diminishes, input increases dramatically. I've discovered that serious illness teaches you an enormous amount. I can't begin to enumerate the things I have learned about life and death, living and dying, myself and others, in the last few months. It's been an intense time, and nothing increases awareness and observation like intensity.
I was exhausted anyway, or épuisée as the French say - a word I have always liked for its several levels of meaning. It means worn out, spent, depleted and, appropriately, 'out of print' which describes just how I was feeling after seven years of writing a lot of books. The well had run dry (I would assume the verb épuiser has a link to un puits which means 'a well'?). Strangely, almost presciently, I had been reducing my publishing commitments over the previous twelve months so that I would be free by November last year. (Despite my best efforts to create space, though, I'm still not quite liberated, although I can just about see the time when I'll be able to move onto new projects.) So I knew I was more than ready for some filling-up, an intake of ideas, books, films, art, travel, conversations, time with friends, in order to refuel my brain. I hadn't quite expected all the life lessons as well, but it seems they elucidate and clarify everything else. They help you to understand what's important and what's not, what to care about and what not to give a damn about, what to fight for and what to discard and ignore. In other words, they make you see your priorities clearly and although this time may be tough and upsetting, it's worth paying attention and learning.
[Glasgow University tower with a thought bubble cloud]
So, I've been working away at material which doesn't require hours, days, months, years of making. I've travelled a great deal; whereas before I'd have had to have lots of warning before setting off, the breaking-up of normal routine with unplanned journeys has made it much easier to slot in last-minute arrangements. In other words (again), I've been seizing the day because, well, you should while you can.
*Travelling up the west side of England by train from London to Glasgow at the end of last week, I have never seen so many buttercups in my life. In fact, I didn't even know that there were whole fields and landscapes that turn, gloriously, to gold at this time of year.
Added: it seems this is an unusual year for buttercups. I hate to use a Daily Mail link but here is the story.