Ever since I was little, I’ve envisaged living in a cottage in the countryside. Surrounded by hills, views of the clouds from my windows, sounds of birds and little else. A room dedicated to books – a haven of literature and creativity. With a big oak table and a green reading lamp where I’ll write novels, work whatever hours I’m inspired, perhaps spend the other half of my time running a book shop. It’s romantic. It’s a bit absurd. But it is possible – I know of people who have done this.
Nevertheless, it is still a dream. I’m a little closer – I now do have a beautiful house in the countryside. My steep back garden opens up onto the moors – walk up the bank that keeps the garden nestled in privacy, and you can see the valleys open up. Next door’s chickens periodically hop the dry-stone wall and scratch away at our steps, occasionally finding their way into the dining room if we leave the backdoor open. I don’t have a reading room, but I do have a gorgeous reading corner I’ve created next to the imposing art deco fireplace in the living room. One day, when we’ve grown up a bit more, got married, had children and converted the loft, I’ll turn the smallest bedroom into my library (not that Simon knows this yet).
But I’m still missing something. That book to write. The desire hasn’t gone, it’s buried deep under practicality, joint bank accounts, a new mortgage, wedding plans, the reality of our move and needing a secure income. Yet it’s still there and every now and then it anxiously pokes its head up to see if I’m ready.
When I’m bored, I write. When I’m sad, I write. When I’m happy, excited, nervous. When I need to get all my thoughts out of my head to stop going any madder than I already am. I’ve written for as long as I can remember, and I have a whole folder of one-page short stories I concocted with my dad, half-written plots, fifty page attempts. I have stories in my head that swirl around, disappear for months only to burst back into consciousness when I hear a song or smell a scent.
And yet I haven’t actually finished a book aside from the 20-pager that earned me a Writing Badge at Brownies. When the concept of moving was still very much a pipe dream, I began to write about someone who made the move, and all the wonderful things that started to happen. I lived vicariously through my heroine, giving her the house we’d seen online and the romanticised life I’d pictured since I was small. Right until the book ground to a halt when we actually made the move a reality. I want to get back to her story, carry on exploring her life – which is now quite different to the one I’m living – and let her play out her path. Because it’s the path that I’m still hoping to have one day.
How to start again. It’s been 10 months since I’ve written a word of her story – about 6 since I last read it again myself (out loud to Simon… who claims he enjoyed it). It’s not that great, but it’s got bones at least. I don’t know where it’s going – I’m not the kind of person who has long and detailed plot plans. I’ve tried that before and just felt disheartened and more chaotic.
What I need, is time and space to just type. One day I’ll sit down again and let the words find their way back to the surface. And who knows what might emerge.