I’m in my early 50s (best to be honest about it) and lately, menopause has hit me like a blow to the solar-plexus, followed by a punch on the nose and a kick in the shins. I lie wide awake at stupid o’clock drenched in rivers of perspiration; my nights are spent whipping the duvet off, then on, then off, then on again – windows open, windows closed. Throughout the day, in a dumb stupor through lack of sleep, I flush at inopportune moments, heartbeat galloping out of my chest. I’ve acquired itchy-scratchy, eye-watering allergies for the first time in my life.
My waistline has exploded outwards and I’ve waved a fond farewell to my once cuddly hourglass. My chins (two at the last count) have blown up like helium balloons, much like my ankles on a warm day, and I boast a cup size which is heading towards the middle of the alphabet (well maybe that’s not such a bad thing).
Befuddled on a tiny fraction of what I used to be able to drink, blotchy-necked and sweating from every pore, I spend nights out with the girls exchanging tips on the ins and outs of HRT and the best eye cream to ward off crows-feet.
Worst of all, my head is full of cotton-wool; I forget names and faces and I can’t locate words that I’ve known for ever; my fingers find all the right keys, but all in the wrong order. If I don’t write it down, it’s gone for good.
But for all this mid-life fun-and-games there’s an upside, and it’s this – a conviction that now is my time. And as the cliché goes, if not now, then when? So I’m fighting mental meltdown, myriad distractions and my sticky, blurry eyes to give free rein to the would-be novelist inside me – just to see if I can.
So far I have 45,000 words laid down and a clear outline for the 45,000 or so more needed to complete the first draft by Easter 2012. Beyond that point, there’s everything to play for.