Please Direct All Vexatious Legal Threats to My Oncologist

I’ve just finished writing a scene in a new novel in progress I’m working on. It’s very early on, first draft energy, and…it’s disgusting. It’s probably the most revolting imagery I’ve ever put down on the page, and I’m loving every minute of it. This was just after submitting the novel about climate change, biodiversity shenanigans, the Irish Civil War, murder and political intrigue, I’ve been working on for three years to a publisher. And Channel, a literary magazine with an environmental bent, have just accepted a submission of mine based on a reworking of that novel’s final scene. It comes out in May.

I’ve been receiving treatment for a (curable) cancer diagnosis I received in January. I remember that day being told “We’ll sort this for you” by a sympathetic consultant, and then heading out into the city centre to collect my contributor’s copy of the Cork City Libraries Words 3 anthology which features my story “The Defamation Suit”. I think it would be fair to say I was a little stunned back then!

Now things have settled down, surgery done and dusted, I’m out of the office for a while, and I seem to have wandered into an extended flow state writing-wise. I discovered London Writers Salon and the novel I have just started is the one I will work on for the duration of chemotherapy. My treatment involves receiving a drug named the Red Devil which is based on the mustard gas they used in the trenches in WWI, so that ties in nicely with my previous work and I’m co-opting a bit of it for the current WIP too. There’s a lot of metaphorical and existential playing about I can do while navigating this disease. Also some decisions to be made about what subject matters are compatible with mandated fortnightly poisoning. I made a decision early on to avoid food or romance, and was surprised that rather than being a Horrific Experience, chemo appears to be largely bumbling along at 75 percent capacity and all that entails.

I’m going with “venom in, venom out” and I’m astonishing myself with what I’m putting down on the page. It’s so freeing. I’m working on part 2 of the crime series I started with the previous novel, now on submission, and it’s pure therapy. I thought my last fuck had flown out the window a while back, but cancer revealed a couple more lurking around and I set them free like radiant turquoise butterflies in the sun.

I always looked for the fair wind, but never found it. Now I feel the wind is at my back a little, and if the notorious Mr C is responsible for that, then I’m not ungrateful.

And a gentle reminder that I’m still having a fire sale of White Feathers paperback if you should be so moved to check it out. Mwah to all of you đŸ™‚


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