Wearing my plastic clogs, I walk down our concrete path, unlock the summer house door with the brass-buckle key ring, and sit on the new camping chair.
The morning’s sun dazzles and I to position my head so the sun’s hidden behind the door’s wooden lock panels. The windows need cleaning. Both inside and outside cobwebs are growing. My intention to brush down walls, floor and ceiling hasn’t materialised.
Natalie Goldberg asks this question in one of her books about writing. What has my journey been like? By choosing to write, what have I missed out of? Writing has become an obsession, a compulsion. The desire to see, feel and think more deeply is a challenge.
How did I get here?
My birth as a writer arose from my being demoted as a senior probation officer, my challenging that judgement, being re-instated and then choosing to resign. The job, and I, had lost its sparkle.
Luckily, I was put in touch with Margaret Purrett, a careers’ advisor and I started to learn to write. Once again, a whole new venture. It was slow, is slow. That I took the decision to write only after careful thought and the support of my husband, keeps me going. Am I a writer? Yes. Am I good enough? Yes/No. I’ve learned I don’t pay attention, don’t listen for much of the time. I depend on emotions, which are unreliable and fluctuate. I’ve moved from writing evidence based reports and assessments, to stories and images which have a different kind of truth. The approach can be more oblique. I’m learning to sit, write what I see, feel, touch, and trust a poem, a story, a novel will develop. It’s a long process.
Where I started from isn’t where others start from. That was so with probation and teaching. That’s exciting and daunting. The initial courses were attended by people similarly in their fifties or older. I was 60 before I began an MA at Bath Spa University. Habitual ways of thinking, of conditioning are regularly challenged and that creates uncertainty – no bad thing for a writer, though it can also be paralysing. That said, there are few regrets. I’ve made new friends, read much more widely and discovered poetry.
The sun lights the page. The pointed shadow of my pen moves steadily across the white page. I hear the birds singing, and the ticking of the clock. My jaw is clenched. I love this life. This chance to do nothing while becoming a writer.