At the start of this year, I had a great plan. I was going to write a novel.
It would be a great novel.
It would almost certainly win the Booker prize.
There seemed to be no reason at all why I couldn’t put this plan into action. The littlest had started nursery two days a week, so I had two whole days to myself. Six blissful child-free hours, between 9.30am and 3.15pm, in which I could sit down and – hey, why not? – write my novel.
And so I sat down to write.
The blank page loomed at me.
And I discovered I had forgotten all the words.
Two solid years of doing nothing but child-rearing had wiped all of the complicated words from my brain. Straightforward concepts I could still deal in:
“Do you want a sandwich?”
“That person is feeling sad.”
But words with any nuance in them had disappeared. All the grey words had fled. And taken with them my grasp of syntax, any writerly turns of phrase, and – the real kicker – any belief in my own ability as a writer.
Turns out, it’s quite hard to write a novel if your vocabulary has been reduced to that of a seven year old.
I spent less time sitting down to write the novel as the weeks went on, and more time avoiding writing the novel.
I started to hate the damn novel.
Any time I opened my laptop, it seemed to mock me. “Write a novel…” it would wink. “Go on, I dare you! Try and remember all those words you’ve forgotten…”
I decided that perhaps writing the greatest novel of all time, after doing sweet FA with my brain for two years, was a slightly big ask. Perhaps I needed to start smaller. I realised that writing, like all skills, needs to be practiced, and I remembered this neglected old blog of mine with renewed interest.
And so, though I am pretty sure nobody reads, or even writes blogs anymore, I am returning to mine in 2019, as a place to re-learn what once came naturally to me, and a place, once again, to record those little bits of life that would otherwise be lost forever in the mind fog that comes of spending so much time with small people.
I’m not planning on changing the format in any significant way, if there does happen to be anyone here reading who remembers me from all that time ago. There will be posts on plants and gardening, books I am reading, London events, snapshots of an eternally partly renovated house and – because I haven’t really changed that much – definitely much waffle.
Thank you if there is anyone still out there, patiently wondering what happened to me. And hello! if you have stumbled on me freshly. I’ll be back with more, soon.
(Photo of me at the top from a recent trip to Paris, taken by my excellent friend Kelly Macnamara. This is the topic for a whole other post, but I have also been thinking a lot recently about being visible, especially as a woman over 40, and how important it is to stand in front of the lens sometimes, as well as hide behind it. So I thought I would start as I mean to go on…)