Repetitive Strain Injury

I cannot write. It is strange; during October I wrote more than I have in a long time, but now I find myself speechless. Indeed, October was a month when the words flew out of me and every day I looked forward to the evening when I would be able to write again. I slept for four hours a night, woke up hungover, went to work, barely able to keep my eyes open and then, in the evening, I was awoken by the opportunity to sit down and write once more. The exhaustion, the hangovers, the situation were all worth it, just waiting those twenty-one hours before I could write again. During moments of the day I would dream of it, would jot things down as they occurred to me – stimuli distilled from the waking hours – and returned to them in the evening, feeling that, no matter how boring they might appear to be, I may perhaps be able to make something of them.
    Since it turned November, I have found writing to be nigh on impossible. If I should pass by a mirror and catch my reflection, he who stares back at me is unrecognisable to a month ago. Saturday night I spent four hours adding three lines to a poem I had written two weeks ago in the duration of one song. During the tenth month the poem had bust out of me, but in the eleventh it faltered. I read the poem over & over, trying to determine what was wrong; I read aloud to the double-glazing in front of me and the brown circles, I read it aloud to the viscous dew, the scuttling night, I read it over & over until I wept from sorrow and could take it no more; then, defeated, I determined that it was finished and no longer wanted anything to do with it. Sunday I was still defeated. Monday I dreamed of settling down in the evening, when all was quiet, and writing; however, when the time came, would you believe it but not a single word formed in my head. I sat there – here! right here! – and waited, fingered the keys, listened to music, drank wine, I read through my hundreds of notes, I read literature; nothing worked. My fingers floating an inch above the keys, I choked.
    If twenty-twenty has taught me anything, it is that bad times always follow good – and not in equal measure!

There is very little for me to write about. Many years ago, I offered to my doubtful colleagues that if a writer were good enough, they could turn a trip down the off-licence into a most beautiful slab of prose. What can I possibly turn anything into right now! It is true that there is so little going on – existing as I am, rather than living – yet still, I believe, there must be something for me to write about! But no, I sit here with my fingers floating above the keys, my mind blank, and so little to offer the reader.
    There are pains shooting down my wrist because of work. I had a review with them on Monday. It had been postponed twice and I expected it to be postponed again but, to my surprise, it went ahead; so I quickly jotted down some issues, chain-smoked in the back garden, geared myself up for it and went into the video call with the three partners (I cannot say for certain but I have not seen or heard of any other colleague having to withstand all three of them in an appraisal). It was all quite expected, and because they came in peace, so did I. I came in peace until I could no longer come in peace. The managing director talked about me stepping up, I could not help myself—‘I ain’t about to get into a conflict with you on this, Ian, but why the hell would I want to step up when I see the stress my seniors – my colleagues! – go through? I don’t want that, it looks shit! Why the hell would anyone in this company want to step up, to take a management role or take charge of a team? It ain’t appealing in the slightest!’ I could feel my fists clenching. I rocked in my chair. I stared into the camera. It was no use, I thought. What was the point? It ended and nothing had changed, nor would it. Still, the pain shoots down my wrist. I push my fingers out and in. I make stars. Repetitive strain injury, they call it. Tomorrow I speak to my therapist. I look forward to it. It has been two months since I cried. The reason is still there, the need, the impulse, it is just that I have suppressed it. Folk are still letting off fireworks. The stars are visible; all of them.