I am waiting for a hospital appointment. I have now been waiting for nearly three weeks and have heard nothing. It is a good thing that I am not expecting them to find what they are looking for, or I might well be beyond help before they found it. In fact, the longer the waiting goes on, the more likely they are to say they couldn’t actually find a brain at all, just a quivering lump of jelly, flolloping around in an empty skull and looking for a way out.
Because I do not fancy the thought of an hour stuffed down a wormhole with a pneumatic drill.
A wormhole is, of necessity, just big enough for the worm, with no room for manoeuvre. That’s bad enough. Knowing you will be strapped down and immobilised before they shove you in the thing, making any attempt at a hurried escape utterly impossible, is just adding insult to injury.
If you are lucky, they give you a mirror so you can watch your toes turn blue as you try not to shiver in the overly-air-conditioned room.
Even so, you breathe deep, start to meditate, you are fine… and then the pneumatic drill starts clattering and crashing around your head.
I hate MRI scans. And I’ve never had to have one likely to take quite this long before. And I am really not looking forward to it.
Personally, I blame Alan Garner.
His book, ‘The Weirdstone of Brisingamen’, was a favourite when I was young. But there is a passage in the book where Colin and Susan are lost in the old mine workings beneath Alderley Edge… a passage where their terrifying progress through the narrow tunnels is so graphically described that I had nightmares about it. Still, occasionally, have nightmares about it.
There are all kinds of dream interpretations out there, from the sublime to the ridiculous, from the basic ‘new beginning’ angle to memories of being born. In this case, though, I know exactly where they started… deep in the tunnels beneath Alderley Edge.
Which just goes to show how influential books can be, especially children’s books. Granted, my current predicament may not be the best example of why we should read to, and write for, children… Much as I loved the Weirdstone, I won’t be buying it for my granddaughters for a good few years yet.
But when someone asked me the other day whether or not it was really worth them finishing their story and adding yet another book to the millions already out there, I thought of Garner and said an emphatic ‘yes’.
You can never know…unless someone is kind enough to leave a review or get in touch with the author… how deeply a book can change a life. You may sell one or two copies… you may sell thousands… but, chances are, you will never know how they affected their readers.
And the effects stories have are not usually so uncomfortable…. Decades after the books were first read to me, wardrobes are still magical places…especially old ones that smell of mothballs… and, because of the stories I read as a child, I still walk the earth in wonder, watching for trolls under bridges and eyes in the trees.
So, to any budding author out there who doubts whether or not it is ‘worth’ writing their story … just think back to the books you have read and how they have shaped the way you walk through the world… and remember that what the reader takes away from any story will be theirs alone. All stories will speak to someone… and you may never know how much your words could change a reader’s life.
Hopefully, though, not by giving them nightmares…