Friday, 4 December 2009
Well the latest draft of the WW2 book I started writing in May is done, and I've just looked at my email, twitter, facebook etc for the first time in a month. With the kids home 24/7 it was the only way to get the new draft done - handwriting the edit while they were occupied (and the computer was taken up with really important things like Club Penguin and Moshi Monsters), then copy typing while they were asleep - and a marathon forty-eight hours when the pilot gallantly took them to Suffolk. Half way through my weekend of copying up 10,000 words a day (when my fingers went into spasm :), I took a break and watched 'The Pianist'. The pilot finds the films I watch to 'relax' endlessly amusing, but it's one of those films about the fragility of life and the strength of the human spirit that puts everything into perspective. If you haven't seen it, do. I also had a breakthrough watching it with my main male character - Thomas Kretschmann's performance as the German officer with a heart was intensely moving, and made me think in a new direction about my man.
So, now the latest draft is done, it's time to catch up on the backlog of everything else (cleaning, this morning - the glamour). There are some compensations to being up at first light - as I sipped the first of many coffees this morning, the village was silent, there was a hard frost on the ground and the most beautiful full moon in a rose sky. The pilot was off at 2.30am, I'm sleeping badly (again), and the four year old now has his sister's flu so rather than tossing and turning it made sense to get up and get ahead of the day.
They've just felled some huge old trees in the closed off part of our garden, and if the trees were still there I wouldn't have seen the moon. This cottage is the C14 gardener's cottage of the manor house up the road (where our landlady was born - tugs forelock). When she inherited this place and we moved in they cut off half an acre of garden at the back hoping to sell the plot to a housebuilder - yes, England is that crowded. This 'secret' garden is amazing - full of wild roses, shrubs - all the things the gardener planted over the years. And no one can enjoy its beauty.
Two things struck me this morning - that old saying 'can't see the wood for the trees', and how gardening is a lot like writing. You plant something, nurture it, and wait - maybe for years. But it's worth it because hopefully there will be something beautiful that brings joy to other people for years. When I was working in London I'd spend most lunchbreaks from the gallery at the Chelsea Gardener - the last garden I had of my own was full of jasmine, roses, lavender, an amazing old mallow tree that was a screen of cerise in the summer.
The only survivor of that garden is the little olive tree I've talked about before - its travelled with us in a pot for ten years, and the day I dig it into the ground is the day we've finally come home, literally put down roots. I thought it had died this year (which says a lot about this year) - the leaves dropped off, the hound dug it up and ate half the roots. I almost gave up on it. But, I cut it right back, repotted it ... and it's stronger (if smaller) than ever, with fresh green shoots.
It's rather how I feel looking back on this year. All the things that have happened - bereavement, betrayal, banks (and a few other things beginning with b) ... they cut you down to size, but you can come back stronger. At least, that's what I hope.
TODAY'S PROMPT: As those of you who've been reading WKDN for some time will know by now, I'm a romantic. I believe in the things I've been writing about, I believe in following your heart, sacrifice for love, redemption, forgiveness - all the things that have a neat, escapist, beginning, middle and end in fiction and can be so painful and messy in real life. The wonderful thing about writing is that nothing is wasted - there's enough raw emotional material in the last twelve months alone to write a book a year for the rest of my life. Someone asked me the other day what's my dream - beyond getting the day to day on an even keel, that's it. I want to write bestselling books. Right now its the only thing I know for sure. So, that's your prompt for today - what do you believe in? what's your dream? what do you know for sure?