I’ve been wondering recently what’s making me do this. What’s making me take my little red-coated tablet up to the fading sofa in my room, where the sun warms my shoulders, and let the words drip from my fingertips?
Is it just a genetical certainty? My maternal grandfather concocted stories about Ray and Jay, private detectives, solving unsolvable crimes. They were written for my sister (her initials making Ray) and myself (Jay), and although I only have vague memories of these stories I can still see his beautiful, big, scrawling handwriting in my mind. My Dad, who doesn’t wear the same genes as my grandfather did, has also always had a pen to hand, writing letters to the newspaper, childhood diaries, weekly journals. He stopped recently, saying he doesn’t think it’s of interest anymore. Come on Dad, get those two fingers back to work! We want to hear from you. Then of course there is my daughter, E. Her writing is exceptional, fine, skilled, beautifully turned. She wants to make her living from her gift. She’s well on the way to fulfilling that dream. So was I just the missing link, the broken rung on this family’s ladder of word lovers?
Or is it all the books I have read? I would love to count them. A miniscule amount covers my bedside table, built up like blocks of high-rise flats. Most of them have been eaten up already, others are waiting to be devoured. The latest, The Space between Us, by Thrity Umrigar, whose words floated off the page, swirled before my eyes, before planting themselves in my heart, making me long to do the same with my own words.
But I have no story to tell, no believable characters to describe, no imagination, no patience to write a book. I only have excerpts, chunks, crumbs of life to hand over. For a long time I thought that was not enough.
Until I met an extraordinarily talented, creative, beautiful young woman who opened up the door to her own world of writing and let me take a peek inside. I almost had a toddler tantrum-style fit, screaming ‘I want one of those, I want to do that, I want one nooooow!’ Another talented, creative, beautiful young woman, my very own L, made it possible. Thank you both.
So now that the sadness of the last few weeks is lifting I’d like to get back to the role of rounding up all the words which are running wildly around my head, herding them through the gate and setting them free on the pasture that is this page.
Along with living and laughing, eating and sleeping, working and unwinding, writing is what I love to do. I have turned off the little voice which used to say this is a load of old garbage that no-one would ever want to read. I can hear a new voice – kinder, warmer, but still pretty damned authoritative. It keeps repeating itself, day in, day out. It says:
Write here, write now – right here, right now.