I am sitting by the sea as I write this. The sun is high overhead. It’s low tide so there’s a sandy expanse for people to walk and play on. It’s two in the afternoon when most are in work, school or otherwise locked indoors. The wonder of being an author means I can work anywhere. Yes, I’m not rich with films in the works but I do what I love and getting to sit gazing out at the ocean is definitely one of the perks.
My pathway has had some pretty steep hills and has been rough at times. There’s a lot more hard work to go before I might be able to take the steps needed to actually sit and feel the sand for myself. I can’t climb over rocks and my chair isn’t built for on-road let alone off-road.
One sight I see a lot is people pulling into the disabled space beside me. They get out, let their dog out and stride off down to the beach. (There’s a big car park about twenty yards away.) Surfers pull in and do the same. It’s amazing how little everyone wants to walk. It’s only when something is taken away that you truly appreciate the joy of standing on your own two feet…
Because you can.
I see it as a blessing. If I’d never suffered, I’d never understand that. I’d never have stopped to look around me and be. I wouldn’t know what it is to really smile from the inside out either. It brought me to writing which introduced me to wonderful friends, mentors and gave me a direction I could never have hoped for before. I couldn’t have asked for a better occupation.
A lot of people talk about struggling when they write and how much torture a book is for them. I can’t imagine how difficult and taxing that must be. To know it’s inside you and needs to be shared but it’s so hard to express the story in your heart. Still, no matter how hard, how tormenting it is, I hope they keep in mind that they can write.
I don’t go to watch tennis or rugby live anymore because of the colossal effort it takes just to get there. Being shoved up in corner somewhere or navigating through the chaos of crowds took the joy out of it. One day I am hoping that will change. I’d really love to go watch my hero Amélie play in one of her soiree events, Sam Stosur (another hero!) on the red clay of Roland Garros or catch Leigh Halfpenny while he’s in Toulon. There’s something special about experiencing things. One day it’ll be an I can again.
Simple isn’t it?
They change the way you see everything. It doesn’t mean ignoring the obvious. I can’t run the London Marathon. (I’m not quite sure I would want to either, 26.2… well… that’s just a long way…) It would be crazy for me to try. However, I can wheel myself though doorways that I swear are made for elves. I can pull off the superhuman feat of extracting a wheelchair from a boot, attach the wheels and pretend like I’m in the army snapping together a sniper rifle. (All about the mean look.)
I can also write books.
Most importantly, I can do it with a big smile on my face. Why, because there’s nothing like pretending to rugby tackle someone who is walking towards you to make them dodge out of your way. There’s nothing like grinning a mega-smile at someone who looks a bit down and they spend two minutes figuring out if you’re smiling at them. It’s even better when they do and smile back. Spreading a little light, some laughter and fun is what it’s all about, right?
Why do I smile? Simple.
When just leaving the house is like scaling Snowdon, it changes your view of the day. By the time you see me, I’ve scaled a lot of peaks and I’m grinning because each battle is a victory. None of that was the point of my blog today but it’s connecting up now. I was updating you because Aeron got another nod this week. The Empath is a finalist for the Goldie Awards in the debut author category.
So, I’ve found myself amongst the other Goldie finalists such as Gerri Hill and Sarah Waters… Rita Mae Brown is receiving a Goldie this year too.
Two Welsh authors amongst the rest. Me… and Sarah Waters. (Just repeating that because I blinked several times.) Thankfully she’s not in the debut author category! With all the talented authors listed in the finals, there is a strand, a story that ties us together no matter how big or small, new or experienced we are…
At some point we all said I can write a book. We picked up our pens, typewriters, word processors, laptops, scraps of tissue… and we did just that. We wrote. Everyone had to learn their craft too. I hope I’ll always keep on learning. I love it. Spending hours pouring over edits, critiques, sitting in workshops, reading books and blogs and trying to put into practice everything I was taking in. It’s still one of my favourite bits.
Then we had to make the dash across no man’s land and submit our work. We took that leap of faith and, if they were anything like me, got shot down an awful lot! Rejection sucks but it doesn’t half give you fire. Then there’s the waiting… and waiting… and waiting some more. Check emails, check messages… wait some more. Repeat after me, ‘patience is a virtue, it is, it really is…’ That’s when you had to keep believing ‘I can.’
All those people on the finalist lists then found someone who believed enough to say, ‘Yes, we think you can too.’ Family and friends, mentors, fellow authors, the editors and agents and publishers, they believed in that each author could but most of all it was important that the authors themselves did.
When I see the cover of The Empath it reminds me of that. It spills out into every other part of my life.
Two keynote speakers from WW York Festivals have stuck out in my mind. Their words stayed in my heart. The first was Andrew McBride and his,
‘I do, I do, I can.’
It was my first year at the festival and his address gave me such inspiration. The other was SJ. Bolton’s from the year before last. I hope it gives you the same fuel of excitement that it gave me.
‘The mightiest oak in the forest was just a little nut that stood its ground.’
So, if you’re in the literary field; submitting, writing, publishing, releasing, dreaming or… waiting… I would like to give you a smile. Guess what, you can. Never forget it. Stand your ground, write awesome stories and prove it.
If you’re not, if your path is steep at the moment, if your heart is feeling heavy and the weight is hard to carry. You can do it.
This little nut, (in more ways than one,) is growing into a slightly crooked, eccentric looking tree. Nevertheless I will wave my branches because if I can…