I can hardly believe how many months have passed since I last posted. Post-Brexit, post political disaster cum standing joke, and post chaos of teaching. Yes, it’s been an eventful few months. I have been too busy writing to write, it seems.
There is an elusive state I have been chasing for some time, that point in my life when I am free. Free to write, free to think, to imagine, to dream. Free to sit in the garden and dream, breathing in the summer air. Free to rise in the morning and follow my mind’s path through the day, unfettered by the constraints of the home or the demands of work. Free to simply be.
It’s not that I don’t enjoy my day job. I love it. I love the buzz of busy times, the energy of teaching, the feedback from students. I love the challenge of the workload, the planning, the juggling of priorities. I love taxing my brain with new challenges, such as managing a programme, fostering the development of students, supporting colleagues, and writing academic work. This spring and summer I have completed another five chapters for edited collections, and have continued publishing in The Practising Midwife. I have been studying complementary therapies, an amazing course for midwives, and discovering how difficult it is being a student again.
But I have been waiting and wondering when that elusive day will come, the day that I am free to write. Book number two has been hovering in the background for far too long, a weighty, waiting pressure that builds the more time passes. A recent editorial meeting did not help with that pressure, as I realised just how much work was needed to turn the story into a book. More writing, more editing, that skilled crafting of plot and character, building pace and depth. There never seems enough time to do it all.
When I am free, I keep thinking, I will do this. When I am free, I will do that. But the fact is, the day will never come when I am more free than I am today.
Let me describe my current situation. My garden is overgrown, although a couple of days of blessed sunshine at least has allowed me to mow the lawns. My beautiful flat is a mess, and if these walls could talk, the would be begging for some cleaning spray and a jay cloth. Spiders have taken over almost every possible corner. Something unnameable is growing on the bathroom rug. Clothes, which until a few days ago were simply piled on every surface in the bedroom, have been hung up unironed. My desk is piled with the detritus of end of course thank you gifts, notebooks, magazines and bits and bobs from the garden as it is the first surface available when I walk through the garden door. My bed is unmade. The floors need sweeping and vacuuming. I can’t remember the last time I dusted.
But in front of me is a folder, with some yellow pads inside, and a printout of the novel. The last two days I have been writing. Reading, yes, watching the odd film, washing up and cooking, but, most importantly, writing. I hit the wall, initially. I was looking at a load of notes and panicking. Then it came to me. Every day starts with a decision. We decide what to do first, and what to do next. And that means, regardless of the other demands on my time, it is okay, sometimes, to just write.
Everything starts with the first step.
And then another, and then another.
I’m going to need a new yellow pad soon, I’ve managed to write so much, and yes, there is more to do, but I can see my way over the wall now. It’s all about priorities, about making writing as important as everything else in life.
I know where I am going and there is no one to see or care if I am surrounded by mess, or if I haven’t done the dishes, or polished the cat. It will all get sorted eventually.
When I am free.