Sunday, 1 January 2017

Been a long time but I'm back in town

Reading: She's Come Undone by Wally Lamb
Listening to: "You and I" by Lady Gaga
Outside: Rain on the window

This morning I greeted 2017 with a kind of fervent hope. 

The birth of something new - the release (or at least the processing) of the pain of the past.

As I watched the Countdown on TV last night, and the oily darkness of the River Thames, and how the London Eye was wide open as usual, alert and eager, all I could think of was Robbie Williams and his personal demons, how he was battling them even during his outstanding run-up-to-midnight performance on that intimate stage. The stage of his life, made fluorescent and public and with background dancers rolling robotic hips.  His seamless songs, his battle with depression and drug addiction and alcoholism, and his perfectly tailored outfit, so charismatic, so magic, and I thought, wow, he hasn't had a cigarette in ten days. That takes real courage.

And I thought about the sensitivity of all of us: we are each ornate and delicate as blown glass ornaments. We teeter on the edge of a high shelf and hope for sunny skies.

And perhaps that is the best thing.

The year 2016 was certainly rough. My Facebook newsfeed was a constant stream of shootings, bloodstained children in Aleppo, the peaks and troughs of the pursuit of gay rights and equality in the United States, Brexit and the election of a new US president, uncertain futures. So many actors, artists, and activists have departed this mortal coil, and we refresh our love for them by listening to their lyrics again and reading their books, really feeling their best scenes in their best films. We are grateful that these people did what they loved and loved what they did. They believed.

And other things harshed my mellow. I went home for the first time in two years to say hello to my friends and family, and to say goodbye to my family home, which was sold earlier this year. I spent my last two weeks ever in my old house, watched my daughter sleep in my old bed. I braced myself against What Was Happening and watched the water of Geist Lake from Lena's point of view, kneeling in the sand, inhaling the final aroma of autumn, smiling in the sun of the last warm day of the year in Indiana. It hurt too much to think about. The enormity of it (the capturing and bottling of my school bus rides, lightning bugs, Rice Krispies Treats fresh from the kitchen, Halloween parties, the way the crows, flapping and raucous, congregated in the woods, their numbers so thick the trees' canopy turned black one day every fall). I wanted fold up Bucklandville - as well as my family and my dear friends - into a neat, tidy one-inch square and fit it in my pocket and take it home to England. But I couldn't; it wasn't mine to keep. One big lesson learned in 2016. Letting go.

And 2016 was also my triumph. In June, following Lena's achievement of official dual citizenship (yay!), I caught the attention of the best literary agent in New York City for me, like eyes connecting across a room. I will never forget the excitement of those two electric days from Jen's full manuscript request to her offer of rep, and the tailspin of congrats, champagne and emotions that followed.

Other great things: The vastness of the Gulf of Mexico, the pure white sand of Panama City Beach, Florida. Lena squealing in the sea. The sun-sparkles a backdrop to her silhouette, touching her toes in the tide. Her daddy holding her on my mom's porch, marveling at the Alabama rain. Taking her to meet her teachers for the first time, and she, fearless, walking into the room ahead of me. No thigh-clutcher, this one. And this morning, Lena helping me prepare a new, well-cured manuscript for edits (she's a hole-punch specialist).

More great things: Collecting pictures of my life, and entries on my Bucket List that grows by the day. The joy of reading a book to a child. Drinks and shenanigans with friends.

As I bend to further notes for my debut novel, I also tap away at a brand new story. It feels like a long time, this year in which my creativity lay somewhat fallow, but I'm back in town. I'm once again in the dooryard of New Book (and, well, Life): all the fragility of that first page, the first draft, the first day of the year. The giddiness, the fear, the work, the love.

Here's to making it happen.

Happy 2017! I wish you the best year yet.


  1. You can do it girl. xxxxx

    1. Thank you, Mumsie! Your encouragement is pure gold. *Muah!*