I occasionally daydream about being bedridden, a period of enforced convalescence, where I have a view of a garden, a matronly attendant and some hospital food. In this fantasy there is always soft, dappled light and I have a sketchpad/notepad in my hand. My thoughts drift without effort or intensity yet they are vibrant and alive to possibility. Projects reveal themselves fully formed through breathe alone.*
What I now realise has been absent in this fantasy – which has become apparent 8 long days into a particularly bad sinus infection – is pain. If I am convalescing, there has obviously been some illness. But the nature of the illness, and its friend pain, has never figured in my fantasy. On reflection this is a fatal flaw in my imagined scenario since when you have a blocked nose, throbbing jaw, painful teeth, and erratic temperature its difficult enough simply breathing. In this state nothing reveals itself to me, there are no acts of effortless creativity, just suffering plain and simple.
* I think this is a variation on easily distracted writers imagining that prison might be a good for a stretch – you know, meals taken care of, a small desk, them and the page. Some, like Lord Jeffrey Archer, lived that dream.