I just spent a couple of hours sorting out my ‘goddess room’, which is the room where I keep my writing and which houses my desk. The desk, as usual, had disappeared into the morass of papers, books, journals, pens and general detritus that seems to accumulate and then act as the prime prevention when I really want to sit down and just write. I’ve had this desk a few years now – it’s a 1920s schoolteacher desk, with a lovely surface and plenty of space for my reconditioned 19th century writing slope and my laptop with separate keyboard and mouse. It also has space to spread out papers as I am working, as often my writing involves a significant amount of research. So, here I am, sitting in my newly tidied room, ready to write.
This is the point when I realise that no matter how tidy the room, until my mind is as tidy, I won’t get anything done. I have a number of pressing projects to deal with. First, there is an academic article for a peer-reviewed journal, which needs a major rewrite for publication. Then there is the chapter for a book I have been promising to finish for months, but which now needs to be done by about two weeks ago. Then there is another article for another journal that should only take a couple of hours, if I can just find the inspiration that motivated me to contact the editor in the first place.
And then . . . the novel I am working on, which begs to be typed up to the current point of work, so I can organise my thoughts and catch up with some plot threads I think I might have dropped, like stitches in knitting, along the way. And there is the midwifery memoir which I am writing (and blogging) which requires some serious attention. And then there is the new research project I have just started on, which needs significant attention before I even begin analysing the data. Oh, and let’s not forget one piece of freelance work I have outstanding which needs to be finished so I can finally give up doing freelance and concentrate on my creative and academic work.
So, I am sitting comfortably, but where to begin?
I think this must be a feature of the life of a writer who lives as many lives as I do, all at once. I have at times been accused of fabricating my own past, as people cannot believe that I have been to the places and done the things that I talk about. Certainly, it does feel sometimes as if I have already lived several lifetimes. I have been, variously, a clerical assistant for a government agency, a chef, a nurse, a barmaid and waitress, a midwife, a fundraiser, a freelance writer, a teacher in an FE college, a University lecturer. I have lived through tragedy, been married to a gay man, had a civil partnership the first day they became legal, been divorced twice, am now married/CP’d for the third and final time (as I have finally met my match). I have experienced social abuse, familial estrangement, social isolation, extreme poverty and periods of time when money flowed through my fingers as fast as I could earn it, strangely leaving nothing to show for it. I am a mother, and I have always been a writer. Since the age of seven, the one constant love in my life has been writing. It is only now that I feel that I can realise my goals fully, that I can call myself a writer and be the writer I always wanted to, with the pending publication of my first novel. Although, it’s not my first novel, not the first one I have ever written. I have attempted many over the years. But this was the one that stuck. The story, and every part of writing it, changed me forever.
So as I begin on my quest to prioritise these competing tasks and make some progress, I think, how can I begin, when really, this all began years ago? Each of these discrete acts of creation were born in the seeds of experience or ideas, brought to life by imagination, by conversation, by chance meetings and social connections, and by my own drive to make my voice heard. Through my voice, I can also give life and longevity to others’ stories, to their realities.
Am I ready? I was born ready. It has already begun.
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