I’m sitting in a hotel room in New York at 3 a.m. (don’t you just love jet lag?) and gazing raptly at this photo of Carcassonne. It’s the view from the window of the apartment that will be all mine for three months later this year. It’s the view which will be my inspiration/distraction as I finally put fingertips to keyboard to write my long-desired novel. I’ve no doubt it’s the view that will tempt me to flee a recalcitrant character or a crippling infestation of writer’s block. I’m sure it will be the view that lures me out to hunt down baguettes, a fruity fromage or a lip-smacking local bouteille de vin rouge. It is the view of dreaming and – I have the anticipatory temerity to say – fulfilment.
At the risk of being extremely boring, and of causing stifled yawns of cliched contempt, I’m going to have to tell you that I’ve wanted to write a book for a long time. A very long time. Since I was about 5 years old in fact. Over a varied career which has spanned journalism, politics and humanitarian advocacy (amongst other things including flamenco dancing and featuring as the Scarlett Fairy at children’s parties) I’ve done lots and lots of writing but most of it has had nothing to do with creativity.
Leaving aside sundry juvenile writing endeavours, I have occasionally taken this writing thing seriously. On two separate occasions I have stepped boldly out of the workaday world and had a good hard go at bashing out a book. In my mid-30s I was inspired to pen a young adult novel. Thanks to a generous inheritance from my grandmother I spent six delightful months squeezing out about 20,000 words, but most of the time I was desperately not writing and rather more eagerly embracing the pursuit of knowledge. I conceded defeat and went to uni to do a Masters instead.
About eight years later, after a punishing two year work secondment in New York, I took a month off to rest and recover and decided to give myself a little stimulation by taking on NaNoWriMo – a fiendish challenge where the foolish writers who sign up are required to spit out 50,000 words in 30 days. I did it! For a month I was inspired, my fingers flew across the keyboard, my characters took on a life of their own, I was in the flow – I experienced all of the symptoms of successful, burgeoning, unstoppable creativity described by writers in ‘how to’ workshops around the world. On day 30 I wrote the 50,000th word, returned to work and I haven’t touched the manuscript since.
So what’s going to be different this time? Well, I guess turning 50 sort of focuses the mind a little. One tends to ponder sinister questions like “what will you regret when you are on your death bed?” and “what don’t you want written on your gravestone?”. In my case, the answer to both of these is “I/she didn’t write my/her book.” I simply just have to give it a go. I am compelled by every fibre of my being to do this thing. It feels a bit like now or never.
More pragmatically, I confess that my most powerful procrastination technique is telling myself that I can’t write and work at the same time (you will note that both previous attempts have involved escaping the coal face). Well, thanks to the wonders of Australian workplace law I am eligible for three months “long-service leave”, the delightful reward that Aussies get for sticking it out with one employer for 10 consecutive years. Yes, I am going to be paid for my three month writing sabbatical – Carcassonne here I come!
So why this blog? I’m reliably informed that when I become a hugely successful best-selling author it will be de rigeur for me to have a blog presence. Frankly, whether I get published or not is pretty incidental to this journey, but hey, one may as well be prepared 🙂
Also, I think it will be kind of fun to track this journey of mine using this blog as a sort of personal electronic journal. I’ve already got three guaranteed followers (thanks Mum, Martin and Rachel!) and maybe they will be the only ones who ever dip into this jotting space. That would be fine with me, but in this crazy world who knows? Maybe others may be amused or entertained enough to want to see whether my authorial dreams come true. Anyhoo, I’m off and running. Let’s see what happens!