How I used a useless year.
by Anton Wills-Eve
It seems almost incredible that it is twelve months since I began putting up posts here and on the writing consultancy site. Last October I was suddenly faced with three separate serious medical diagnoses which both frightened me and took away, at first, my will to share my thoughts and writing with others. One may say that being told one has has an untreatable illness for which there is no known cure, but is not by any means terminal, just painful and incredibly tiring, is not all that serious. But when I tell you that added to this the cancer from which I was already suffering suddenly got worse and a secondary tumour was suspected and investigated for several months, and then a follow up to four cerebral strokes, which involved a weird sequence of memory loss and confusion, and you can start to imagine what I was going through. It is a wonderful thing to have a caring wife and family, I would not have managed as well as I did without them and the large number of people on five continents who daily kept me in their prayers. Anyway, if you are wondering where I have been that about sums it up. But during a year such as this what does one do? Well this is what I did.
After four months of regular hospital appointments taking up most of my time I had to resume writing somehow. Having never earned a penny in my life doing anything else I started to amuse myself by writing what I wanted to write and not what breaking news or literary criticism dictated. First I found a wonderful site, FanStory, which I would recommend to anyone who is bored and has no other way of diverting themselves except by writing and chatting to other putative Nobel Literature Prize winners. This super site lets you post anything you like and gives you the chance constructively to review works posted by any other site members. There is also the option to chat to writers from all over the world who are often far more interesting in themselves than their writing. Add to this the daily prose and poetry competitions available to all and the site really can draw you back from the abyss of never believing in yourself again. While enjoying myself with this diversion I also wrote a series of poems , flash fiction and short stories that I found a lot of fun. On the advice of my family and friends I gathered a selection of these and they are being published under the title ‘ Day Dreams’ by Anton Wills-Eve at the end of next month. I like to think that either the paperback book or e-book edition would make an ideal stocking filler for Christmas for that friend or relative for whom you just can’t think of a small gift. The collection covers every genre of prose and verse there is from humour to tragedy, mystery to romance and several heartfelt works inspired by my own life.
By the middle of the summer my health was picking up, or at least getting no worse, the cancer for instance had NOT spread. This type of encouragement prompted me to write a novel and I must admit this was pure enjoyment. A romance between two neurotically crippled youngsters with quite different approaches to the raw deal life has dealt them, and the way they rescue their affection for each other, seemed a cheerful way to venture into fiction, although of course a lot of it is true! So I finally finished my first novel ‘James and Jacqueline’ which I hope will be available in all formats and on line by January.
One of the most extraordinary aspects of my health problems, certainly the most incomprehensible to me, has been the memory confusion. I have watched a whole series of excellent television dramas and comedies in the past year and enjoyed them as though I was watching them for the first time. The odd thing is that I had seen all of them before but had absolutely no recollection when viewing them again. This really was a blessing with detective mysteries because although they had been seen before they were quite new and the plots had to be followed and worked out all over again. It is indeed very strange how illnesses have their own compensation in so many cases in life. For instance, had I not broken my left wrist before a school rugby match when I was twelve I would never have taken up tennis for the next four months. I was quite good and have always thanked God for that injury. What a strange prayer I must have said!
But to return to the last year. Ever since I was forced to give up being a war correspondent in 1982 and switched to translating, lecturing and reviewing until retiring from full time work, I have always kept up with breaking news everywhere in the world. I am a third generation news journalist and even while at University in Paris I earned my (considerable) pocket money as a sports and war reporter for an American News Agency. I cannot imagine life without writing so I shall try to continue to post something, however brief or boring, every day for as long as I can. So until tomorrow’s offering, whatever it may turn out to be, I bid you all goodbye and for those of you who do not live in England think how lucky you are with the storms we have going on at the moment.
All of you take care of yourselves