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Inner Life

You’re a working-class writer: an oxymoron personified. Marx’s alienation made flesh. The year of the virus cast you further adrift when you jacked in your job with over three years left to run. It was a rash decision, but the right one in the circumstances. The sense of freedom was empowering, enriching. You were no longer dancing to anyone’s tune.

By 2020 you’d already written four books, though none of them were selling. It’s a remarkable achievement, spanning four productive years, but no one will ever use those words to describe that period in your life, so you might as well do it yourself. The gatekeepers continue to shun your work, simply because you’re the wrong class. In spite of the crushing weight of rejection, you keep on writing, keep churning it out. It’s an act of rebellion. In this world you’re not finished until they turn your body to ash at the crematorium.

The virus has had no impact on you, mentally speaking. In fact you’re stronger in that department. Physically you’ve suffered from a bout of sciatica and lost a molar. None of this actually matters. That rotten tooth was destined for the scrap heap. Like a limestone outcrop, eaten away by running water, it finally disintegrated. As the remaining fragments loosened, you ended up having to pluck them out one by one. Your eyesight has deteriorated as well, but you can still see enough to read. Milton went blind in old age, so his daughters read to him. In the grand scheme of things, it’s of no consequence whatsoever.

You’re essentially impervious to the depredations of time. You can’t sink much lower in the scale of being. If you could you’d be Lear’s unaccommodated man, lower even than the working poor. Only the rough sleeper is beneath you. Disassociated from the gatekeepers since birth, you exist in a sort of hinterland. Confined to your liminal space, you’re a jackal scavenging for scraps. In any case, to be able to write authentically you need the goad of privation and misery. And you have those in abundance. No readership, no income to speak of, no status in the eyes of men. With everything in the negative you could be antimatter itself.

Nothing goes to waste in your fertile imagination. Inner life provides you with an inexhaustible supply of material. Hardship and enforced captivity are insignificant. Who needs to travel when you’re free to explore the space inside your own skull? It’s vaster than the entire visible universe.

Instead of becoming downhearted by your predicament, you convert the repudiation of the gatekeepers into an abundant source of fuel. The overwhelming regolith of rejection is your uranium dioxide, and every fibre of your being is animated by the output of that fierce nuclear furnace within you, that beating heart at the very core of your existence. It feeds your anger; it animates your creativity. You could manufacture weapons’ grade plutonium from your hate.