Sundays are days for the positive and the present.
As I can’t currently think of anything in Bink’s story that is both positive and present (she rang on Friday – good in itself – but when I asked how are you she said, not good but I didn’t ring to talk about that) I am going to tell you about something positive and present in my own life.
Which I heard about in Lent so I couldn’t open the bubbly there and then...
During my aching, arid, twenty-year writing drought I frequently begged my cousin Fleur, who teaches creative writing, to mentor me.
Please, Fleur, I said. I need help. I am desperately stuck.
You’re a published, professional writer. I teach amateurs who want to enjoy themselves. I can’t teach you anything.
This went on for years, until Fleur relinquished her university teaching post. I asked her again, and at last she capitulated. Wouldn’t let me pay her which was what I wanted. But she agreed to set me exercises which was what I needed.
As with a daily blog – as I hinted in reply to Daisy’s comment yesterday – almost more important than the quality of what you do, when you get in a rut, is simply that you do. So I churned the words out. Day after day.
Sometimes must have been about Bink.
It was with some surprise therefore, some weeks in, that I read Fleur’s comment. In my writing classes, she said, my students vie with each other who can be the first to make me cry. Today you achieved that accolade.
Really?? It wasn’t a particularly emotional piece.
Are you sure?
It was: The best evening of my life, or somesuch.
I had described the premier of my imaginary first play. Not the West End or Broadway or anything seriously ambitious. No Olivier or Tony award. Just seaside rep. North Norfolk. Where we all, as a family – including Fleur and her actor-now-barrister husband, my cousin – go on holiday every summer. Where I cut my teeth on weekly rep as an actor myself.
I simply wrote about the champers we shared after the first night of my first play.
After decades of telling me that it didn’t matter that I couldn’t write because I was caring for my children which is so much more important, suddenly Fleur saw.
It isn’t more important to me.
What I wanted was to write.
That is what God put me on this earth for.
I know this: He seems to forget sometimes.
And this realisation, understanding what I felt in being unable to do what I was created to do, brought tears to Fleur’s eyes. More than any account of Bink’s sufferings. Or Alex’s. Or any of ours.
Well, I realised: I’d better write that seaside play. In that case.
The Christmas before last, I was introduced to someone who runs a competition for new drama. I’ll have to apply, I thought. Can’t meet this year’s New Year deadline, because it’s only a few weeks off.
Long story short, year and a bit later, you’ve been travelling with me for a lot of that year, I hadn’t had time. New Year’s Eve deadline again. There I was, thirty-first of December, frantically scribbling my play in my father’s kitchen upstairs because we’d let our house out for the celebrations.
So while everyone else was out drinking in the NY (or in drinking it very noisily in our house downstairs) I was emailing the organisers of the competition saying my entry will be with you, soon, by midnight.
(So I might as well have written in the previous year, when I had fortnight over Christmas? That’s not quite how it works: I’d had a year of thinking about it at 3 am by now.)
It was selected.
It is showing.
I can’t imagine anything more enjoyable than meeting the readers of my first blog in the audience of my first play.
Sharing champers after the first night.
Because, you see, unlike Fleur, I am not a dedicated mother or wonderful selfless person or meaningful and spiritual human being, satisfied spending my life for others and pouring myself out on one mad daughter.
I’m just a writer.
Wanting to write...