It happened as I woke up one morning in early December a few years ago. I stretched across the bed, and as I opened my eyes I knew something was different. It was subtle, not something I could explain or locate, but it changed everything. ‘Is this it?’ I asked myself. Not ‘Is this it?’ in horror, but ‘is this what people are talking about?’. A second later the rest of my brain caught up, and I realised I was in love.
It was a bit of a shock.
I had that feeling again, that dislocating moment of recognition, only last week. At the start of March I quit my job and came to Bali for a couple of months to write, and it’s been wonderful. Wonderful, but scary. I’ve wrestled with writing for years, desperate to be a writer but not really believing I could, and to give up my life and job security could have been a really bad move.
It hasn’t been easy. I’ve spent days resisting writing as hard as I could, feeling useless because I can’t (or rather, won’t) just start writing, crippled by procrastination and fear. But leaving my normal life and committing to writing fully has made a huge difference, and those wonderful days when I lose myself in the story happen just as often as the bad days. All I can think when I come out of the zone is, ‘isn’t this brilliant?’.
Then that question slipped into my head again. ‘Is this it? Is this what people are talking about?’, and just like that I fell in love with writing all over again.
I’ve always wanted to be a writer but it’s been one of those things that niggles at the back of your head an unrealistic dream. I always envied people who knew what they wanted to do when they grew up. I felt anchorless and, if we’re honest, a bit pointless. After all, I never finish anything and I was terrified I might hate writing, not actually be cut out for the life at all. But it turns out that actually writing was my first love. I’ve always known what I want to do, I just didn’t think it was possible. But it’s clear now that it’s what I want to do with my life.
Along the journey I seem to have found my way into a brilliant community of people. Running the writing retreats and seeing other people get that same rush I get when I’m actually writing, people doing something about their dreams, that’s pretty cool. I seem to have gone from seeing no way of making my dreams happen to living in a tropical paradise, writing every day and doing a job I made up myself made up for myself, even if it’s part-time and possibly temporary.
The 3 months I took out to write in Bali is coming to an end. I have less than 3 weeks of it left. It’s far, far too short a time in this gorgeous place, far too short a time to be holed up writing, but the novel is 70,000 words long and I know I can finish it.