Tag Archives: dreams

Writer, Plain and Small

So, I’m reading a book at the moment – you know, in between sending out submissions, trying to write an actual book of my own, attempting to lay the foundations of a future business model and not (repeat: *not*) sliding down the helter-skelter of All The Crazy – and, as I came to the end of Chapter 5, something struck me like a haddock across the back of the head.

Just like this. *Exactly* like this, in fact. Image: s1263.photobucket.com

Just like this. *Exactly* like this, in fact.
Image: s1263.photobucket.com

I am a really boring person.

No – no, wait! Just hear me out on this one.

Okay, so the author of the book I’m reading is vastly younger than I am. Her author bio at the start of the book lists the year she was born – a year I remember well, because I spent most of it covered in glitter and scrunchies, singing along to Cyndi Lauper and falling out of trees. I had years of living under my belt by then, during which time I could’ve been doing stuff like starting research toward my first Nobel Prize or being a child prodigy at something besides jumping in cowpats or, even, stowing away on board a ship to see the world. Instead, I was reading everything I could get my hands on, exploring rockpools at every given opportunity and actively avoiding having my hair washed for as long as I could get away with.

Oh, the missed opportunities.

To make matters worse, this author person is an elected fellow of an Oxford college. Already. At her exceptionally young age.

But, the nadir of it all is that the book I’m reading is not her début, and she is – and I quote: ‘currently working on her doctorate alongside an adult novel.’

Right, so I did a doctorate. That’s not a secret. And, it therefore follows that I know how darn complicated it is to write one. I didn’t do mine at Oxford, either – doing anything at Oxford is bound to be fifty-squillion-kazillion times more difficult than it would be anywhere else, because Standards, don’tcha know.

And this person’s doing all that – as well as writing an adult novel and as well as publishing two children’s novels? Oh, and did I mention she grew up – in Africa?

Crying Girl, Roy Lichtenstein (1963) Image: en.wikipedia.org

Crying Girl, Roy Lichtenstein (1963)
Image: en.wikipedia.org

What have I been doing with my life?

I have always lived in one country, and it’s a rather small and squishy one, at that. I haven’t travelled much. I’ve experienced the whole gamut of human emotion, sure, but then you can say the same of anyone. Well, anyone who isn’t a sociopath, at least. I am an ordinary girl in an ordinary corner of the world.

But do you think a person can be too ordinary to be a writer?

Does it follow that a person who grew up in the savannahs of Africa, or the steppes of Mongolia, or the frozen wastes of Siberia, or in the hissing eternity of a desert is going to have a wider imaginative base to draw upon than a person who grew up in a tiny terraced house on a nineteenth-century street in a small Irish country town? A person with the self-confidence, talent and gumption to have published two books by their early- to mid-twenties, alongside doing a doctorate at Oxford, is going to be a more interesting person than one who worked in a succession of dead-end jobs before her health started to fail, and who then took a crazy chance on following a dream, surely. A person who has travelled is, don’t you agree, necessarily going to be better placed at writing imaginatively than a person whose only real engagement with the world has been through reading about far-flung places?

Maybe.

Then, I have felt the Adriatic breeze on my face from the walls of the old town of Dubrovnik; I have heard the Liberty Bell ring out across the city of Valletta. I have seen the sunlight sparkling on the river Leie as I walked through the beautiful city of Ghent. I have watched the Eiffel Tower lit up with spotlights from the smallest hotel room in Paris, and I’ve seen the Mona Lisa. I’ve done more than some, this is true.

But I still feel inadequate, or somehow unequal, in comparison to a person whose life experiences are so richly different from mine.

However, maybe it’s also important to remember that there’s no restriction on imagination. So, I’ve never lived in Africa, and I have never seen most of the places I dream about. I’ve never been to Scandinavia. I’ve never seen the Northern Lights. I’ve never been to Rome. But that doesn’t mean I can’t dream about all these things, and create them in my mind. Perhaps it’s not so much what you’ve done in the time you’ve had, but what sort of thinker you are – one who looks out towards the rest of creation and embraces it with an open heart, or one who locks themselves away in a fit of pique, refusing to open their eyes. One who is too involved with themselves to see the wonder of others.

I’d like to think I am definitely the former.

Image: saligiastock.deviantart.com

Image: saligiastock.deviantart.com

My small, plain life might not stack up against that of the author of my current book-crush. She has, it’s true, lived more in her years than I have in mine. But that doesn’t mean that my story is invalid just because she has chosen to tell hers; it doesn’t mean that my dreams have to take a back seat to anyone else’s. Our experiences shape our minds and the breadth of what we can imagine, but it’s what we choose to do with what we have that counts.

So, I choose to let this story inspire me – not only the book itself, but also the lesson I’ve learned from the life of its author – and I choose to respect the experiences I’ve had, be they ever so humble, because they are my unique gift to the world.

And the same goes for all of us.

The Coldness of the Mind

Last night, I had a dream in which the whole world was iced over. I looked out my front door and a creeping, crackling pattern, like grasping pale fingers, was coming right for me. It had spread its way across the green, where there were no children playing, and made me feel like an ant crawling across the face of an iceberg. I slammed the front door shut, but I knew it was only a matter of time before the grey-blue ice, hard as steel, wormed its way in around the hinges and through any gap it could find.

It wasn’t a pleasant dream.

I’ve been thinking about ice a lot lately (due, of course, to the setting of ‘Emmeline’), and that’s probably why my mind went to a cold, dark place when I was lost in dreams. It’s an unfortunate coincidence that ice – at least, the sort of ice we get here, the dark insidious kind, the kind which no footwear can outsmart – is one of my biggest fears. This winter, however, my little island has been battered by Atlantic storms instead of Arctic vortexes, which is equally dreadful; most of the south of Ireland is underwater at the moment.

Flooding on Wandesford Quay in Cork City. Photo by Darragh McSweeney. Image sourced: rte.ie

Flooding on Wandesford Quay in Cork City. Photo by Darragh McSweeney.
Image sourced: rte.ie

So many people have lost everything – businesses, homes, property – and so many of them can’t purchase insurance, due to where they live being prone to flooding. Sometimes I don’t understand the world. Surely people who live in places like that need more help, rather than less?

Am I the crazy one? Wait – don’t answer that.

I have been out of sorts this week. My head is distracted, my thoughts are ragged, my energy levels are through the floor. ‘Emmeline’ is sitting beside me, not-so-neatly printed and annotated, from last week’s editing sessions; I have three or four small changes to make before I’ll be ready to leave it to percolate for a while. Then, once I’ve checked it again post-percolation, it will be ready to send out into the world. I hope to get to those final edits today, and then it’ll be on to the next thing.

Oh, and I may not have mentioned this before, but – last week on Twitter I noticed an author excitedly promoting their newly published book which not only had the same title as one I had been planning, but took as its central plot motif something which I had come up with in the middle of last year, and which I was quite excited about. This, surely, has to be something nobody’s ever thought of before, I told myself at the time. This is interesting and unusual and could turn out to be something great! Little did I know that the other author was probably doing their final edits on their book at that stage. So, that was another of those bittersweet moments where you realise you’re having good ideas, but just not quickly enough. Of course I’ll be interested to read this other book when it’s published, and I wish its author well. However, I really hope this ‘idea duplication’ thing stops happening to me, one of these years.

Anyway. My mind feels gripped with a cold hand this week. I hope it relaxes its hold soon, because I have a lot of work to get to. I have another idea I want to flesh out, and I want to revisit ‘Eldritch’ and try to do a rewrite, and I need to start picking up with my submissions to competitions and magazines, because I’ve completely let that slide over the past few months.

I think I need a calendar, and an action plan, and someone to tell me to pace myself… Or maybe just a holiday.

Dragon boat racing in Hong Kong - rowing to the beat of a drum sounds like just the ticket! Image: dailymail.co.uk

Dragon boat racing in Hong Kong – rowing to the beat of a drum sounds like just the ticket!
Image: dailymail.co.uk

Have a good Thursday, one and all.

Regrets? I Could Do With Fewer…

If I could give my younger self any advice, it would go something like this:

Image: volunteerweekly.org

Image: volunteerweekly.org

“Dear Little SJ,

You know all those stories you want to write, and all those words you want to string together into pretty little necklaces of imagination? Yes? Well, I just want to ask one thing. What are you waiting for? Do you think the words are going to spontaneously arrange themselves onto the page, astounding passersby and setting off fireworks to announce their own fabulousness? No. They need you to bring them to life. So, go and do it.

Also, you know all those hours you spend standing in front of the bathroom mirror hating everything you see? Give that up, for a load of reasons, but mainly these: you are so much lovelier than you think you are, and you will meet a man, eventually, who thinks you’re so beautiful that he’ll tell you every day how much he loves you. Yes – every day.  Can you imagine it?

Learn how to take compliments.

Now, look around at all your friends. Do you see them, standing around the lockers at school, having a laugh? Treasure these people. Twenty years from now, they will still be in your life, and you will love them just as much as you do now, and they will be just as important to you. You will all have things to go through in life for which you’ll need one another’s support. There are things facing you that you won’t have a hope of getting through without these guys on your side. So, look after your friends.

Find a sport, and start doing it. Seriously. I know you think your P.E. teacher is a demon sent from hell to torment you, and you’d much rather be reading a book, but trust me. Your creaking joints and wobbly bits from the future are imploring you to do some exercise now, when you’re still young enough for it to become a habit and make a difference.

You don’t really need me to tell you to take care of your family, and to try to behave like less of a hormonal Hulkette at home – but I’ll do it anyway. ‘Take care of your family. Stop behaving like a hormonal Hulkette. They love you, you love them – end of story.’

Don’t feel weird for liking to read, enjoying the books and music you enjoy, or watching movies that nobody else watches. Later in your life, your tastes in books, movies and most especially music will help you to make friends, convince people you’re cool, and even (almost) allow you to impress a boy. But don’t hold your breath on that one.

Also, you are cool. Trust me.

Oh, and speaking of boys – that guy you like right now? Forget about it. And the one after him, the one after him, the one after him, and the one after him. After that, you’ll start getting it right. More or less. Here’s a shortcut: go for the boys who are kind, considerate, funny and sweet, and who are brave enough to show you that they like you. Don’t go for the hipster types who pepper their conversation with Neil Young lyrics and whose guitar cases have the Woodstock logo painted on in Tipp-Ex. I know why you keep falling into the same trap, but just trust me, and let me save you from years of heartache. All right?

Spend more time with your grandmother. In fact, go and pay her a visit right this minute. When she goes, the pain of it will be so huge that it will leave a crater in your life. Treasure her now, while you can.

Try to take it easy on yourself. Don’t spend years beating yourself up for mistakes you’re going to make; don’t allow yourself to be spoken to in ways you don’t like; don’t allow anyone to make little of you. Don’t allow yourself to feel like you deserve to be treated like this, because it’ll take years to get out of that mindset. Don’t worry when your life falls apart in the last semester of your last year at university – it’ll suck, but you’ll be fine.

Enjoy your PhD studies. Remind yourself every day that you’re doing a PhD, and how absurdly cool that is. Remind yourself how much of an achievement it is. Be proud of it. It will go by so fast that soon, it’ll feel like you didn’t do it at all. And that’ll be a shame.

There are people who’ll come, and people who’ll go, and it will hurt. But your life will carry on and things will work out better than you could have dreamed. Don’t get too attached to things and places; there are people, too, who you’d be better off not getting too emotionally dependent on. You will lose more friends than you will gain over the course of your life, and you will feel like it’s the end of the world every time someone walks out of your circle. It’s not. The ones who are important will always find their way back.

You are a slightly socially awkward person, and you have no balance, and you’re never sure what to say in any given moment. This isn’t going to change. Learn to embrace it. Eventually, people will start thinking it’s endearing instead of ridiculous.

And, overall? You’re okay, little S.J. You’re okay.

With all my love (because, did you realise, it’s not big-headed or weird to show yourself some love once in a while. Did you know that?)

Old S.J.”

Troubled Waters

I slept badly last night. Or, rather, I slept, but it was disturbed and not at all restful. This was because I spent the whole night having the same nightmare over and over, and eventually I woke myself up early because I couldn’t face going through it again. The dreams were so upsetting that when I woke up, and realised for sure that what I’d been dreaming about hadn’t happened, I almost wept with relief.

I often wonder what the point of nightmares is; why do our brains feel the need to pump our dreams full of terror? In this case, I think perhaps my brain was reinforcing my love for a particular person by making me dream about what life would be like without them. At least, that’s how I’m going to try to rationalise it! Perhaps it was a way of dealing with the grief and horror of losing someone close, without actually having to go through it for real. Still, though. Whatever the reason, I really hope my brain leaves me in peace tonight and lets me sleep undisturbed.

I wonder, too, if my troubled sleep last night had anything to do with the news bulletin I watched yesterday evening. I saw footage of people dying, elections being interfered with, people being savagely attacked as they tried to exercise their franchise in an attempt to bring some sort of peace to their country, children living in camps for Internally Displaced Persons, countries where whole generations of people have lived and died in war… is it any wonder I’d take all that to my sleeping world, and that it would disturb my rest as it disturbed my waking life? Add to that the trial of a man in Japan accused of murdering a young Irish woman who grew up not far from where I grew up, the gangland and sectarian crime still rife in parts of my country, and the parlous state of the economy, and you have the perfect nightmare brew.

Ireland's police force - An Garda SiochanaImage: en.wikipedia.org

Ireland’s police force – An Garda Siochana
Image: en.wikipedia.org

In Ireland, the police force is called ‘An Garda Síochana’, which means ‘The Guardians of the Peace’ in English. By and large Ireland is peaceful – certainly, I’m lucky to live in a place where the worst I have to contend with is noisy neighbours. But there are parts of Ireland, as there are parts of every country, where the Gardaí have a harder job. Peace was hard-won in this country, and I’d hate to see a return to the ‘bad old days’; desperation still drives a lot of people, though, and the causes that divided and hurt so many people in the past are still alive and well, albeit quieter. Sometimes, when I think about how thin the layer of civilisation is, and how it relies very much on everyone co-operating, I tend to get a bit light-headed.

The old saying – that ‘we’re always only three (or four, or nine) meals away from anarchy’ – has often played on my mind. When that’s coupled with my innate suspicion of getting too reliant on technology, and my natural tendency towards anxiety, I fear I’m only one step removed from the tinfoil hat brigade.

Image: bigrab.wordpress.com

Image: bigrab.wordpress.com

But I remind myself how well the world does work, despite everything, and how there are always more people who want to work together and strive for the same goal than there are people who want to tear it all down and dance amid the ruins. I’d like to see a society where every person is valued and cared for, and where compassion is the ruling force – ‘where love is Lord of all’, as the old song goes. But keeping my own home, my own mind as a haven of peace is probably as close as I’ll get to that.

As a weird little finishing note, I’ve just texted the person about whom I had all the disturbing dreams last night. Their reply read something like: ‘That’s so weird. I spent all last night having crazy dreams about you! Get out of my head!’

Is it time for this? After me: Doodeedoodoo, doodeedoodoo….

Image: katymunger.wordpress.com

Image: katymunger.wordpress.com

 

Another Draft Done

On Saturday, I had the chance to knuckle down and focus on finishing Draft 1 of ‘Eldritch’. I’m glad to say that I managed to see it through, and I’m largely happy with how it all worked out. The final word count ended up at just over 54,000 words which – after completing the beast that was ‘Tider’ – seems so short and slight as to barely count as a book at all. I feel that ‘Eldritch’ is a delicate story, ready to fly away at the slightest wind, but that doesn’t reflect the effort and planning that’s gone into it.

A little bit like this!

A little bit like this!

I hope this is just a side-effect of having coming straight from a mind-bendingly difficult and much longer project, and not a reflection on the quality or depth of the story. If nothing else, I’m so pleased to have finally brought two stories that have been living in my brain for years to the page (even if one of them hasn’t yet worked out quite how I’d like, but I’ll whip it into shape before too long). As well as that, it’s a huge buzz to know that the ideas I had for them, so long ago, were strong enough to stand as fully-written stories. It’s one thing having an idea, and something entirely different making it work as a story – as anyone who writes will know.

I’m not used to feeling like an ‘underwriter’ – by which I don’t mean, of course, someone who works with insurance, but instead a person who takes too few words to tell a story – because I’m so used to being an overly wordy writer instead. I’m pretty sure I’ll add some words in when I come to working through Draft 2. I think I was focusing on getting the story out of my brain at the expense of describing and creating a world, so there’s a bit of room there to fill in some of the gaps. It’s a nice feeling, though, to think you have room to expand on your idea rather than having to cut some of it away. I quite like it.

I’m taking a couple of days off and going to visit my parents for a little bit of ‘shore leave’, and then I’ll dive right into the second book in the trilogy I’ve planned for our ‘Eldritch’ heroes Jeff and Joe. Its working title is ‘Omphalos’, though – as with everything – that’s subject to change. I’m planning to title the final book ‘Necromancer’, but that’s so far down the road that I’m not completely sure about it yet. It’s hard to find titles (particularly single-word titles) that encompass what the book is about without giving too much away! I’m already trying to imagine book jackets for these volumes, and thinking how I’d like them to look, one day. I hope that doesn’t come across as arrogant or delusional! I just find it easier to focus on a dream if there’s something definite to attach it to in my head. Seeing the finished book, even if it’s only in my mind’s eye, will help me bring it to completion.

I’m planning to work a bit on ‘Omphalos’ before I start to go back and edit ‘Eldritch’ (though, even as I type those words, I realise my brain is screaming at me to fix ‘just this one little thing!’ at the end of ‘Eldritch’ – I may not last that long!) I think I’ll spend the second half of this week doing up a plan for ‘Omphalos’ and working out the story arc. I mean, I know where I want the story to go and I know where I want the characters to end up, but knowing how to structure that over twenty-something chapters is a different thing.

Anyway, I guess this post is just to say ‘farewell’ for a few days, and I hope you’ll all be here waiting for my return. Will someone please make sure to have the kettle on? I’ll be dying for a cup of tea after all my travels. Oh, and make sure to keep the fire stoked up – there’s nothing that helps the stories to spin like a good warm blaze in the hearth.

Image: coucoumelle.blogspot.com

Image: coucoumelle.blogspot.com

Questions, Questions…

One of my regular readers and commenters, Ania, wrote this blog post yesterday and asked me if I would answer some of her questions. I’m sorry to say I don’t have time to answer them all, but I’ll do my best to answer some of them in today’s post. I’m going to take a random sample of the questions and try to answer in as much detail as possible.

So, hold onto your hollyhocks, people. Get ready to find out what I keep in my handbag!

What is your zodiac sign? Do you match its description?

My zodiac sign is Scorpio, as I was born one long-ago November. It’s apparently a Sun sign, which is a strange thought considering I was born during the winter! Scorpios are, as far as I know, supposed to be secretive, passionate, jealous, possessive and (ahem) rather amorous in their outlook on life. I’m not sure about the amorous part, but I know I have exhibited most of the other traits at various points in my history on planet Earth so far.

It looks just like me!Image: compatible-astrology.com

It looks just like me!
Image: compatible-astrology.com

What song(s) would you choose as a soundtrack to your life?

Well, this is a tough question for me, because I love music so much. Choosing one song would be impossible, and even choosing a top 10 would be hard. But the first ones that come to mind are:

‘Immigrant Song’ – Led Zeppelin : This song makes me appreciate the Viking heritage which I’m sure I have. It’s a lot of fun, and it also has a killer beat. But then, I pretty much love all Led Zeppelin’s songs!

‘Unknown Legend’ – Neil Young: This song is one of many that reminds me of my dad, which is another reason to love it. But truly, I love every single Neil Young song I’ve ever heard, and he’s my all-time favourite artist.

‘Time Has Told Me’ – Nick Drake: This song kept me going during a very hard period in my life. I love it because it reminds me that things will get better and never to give up hope, but that’s just personal to me. The lyrics don’t really reflect that message! Again, I love all of Nick Drake’s tragically small output. He’s wonderful.

‘A Case of You’ – Joni Mitchell: I can’t explain the effect that ‘A Case of You’ has on me. Every note and every word of it makes my skin tingle. I love the song, and the entire album ‘Blue’, and most of what I’ve heard of Joni Mitchell. She’s a legend.

‘Who Knows Where the Time Goes’ – Sandy Denny: Sandy Denny was the best singer in the world. Ever. End of story. This song changed my life, and I adore every note of it.

‘May You Never’ – John Martyn: Just a gorgeous song from a wonderful singer/songwriter, sadly also gone from the world too soon.

If I answered this question every day, I’m sure I’d come up with entirely different songs, every day. Truly, I love so many thousands of songs that I’d never be finished answering this question!

Who are the most important people in your life?

Well, this one is easy. My husband, my parents, my brother, my parents-in-law, my brother-in-law, and my ‘sisters-in-law’. Then, I have about ten million aunts, uncles and cousins, as we’re a good Irish family. And then, of course, I have a huge helping of friends, none of whom I could live without. So, a lot of people are important to me, and I love them all. I’m a lucky girl.

What’s your favourite book/writer?

This is like the question about music. Every day, my top 5 favourite books changes! So, today’s favourites are:

Neverwhere – Neil Gaiman (or, anything by Neil Gaiman)

Lords and Ladies – Terry Pratchett (or, anything by Terry Pratchett. I’m seeing a pattern here.)

The Earthsea Quartet – Ursula K. Le Guin (okay, so technically four books, but you’ll have to allow me that indulgence. It’s Le Guin!)

The Once and Future King – T.H. White

The Passion – Jeanette Winterson (or, indeed, surprise surprise, anything by Jeanette Winterson.)

I’m also going to include The Canterbury Tales by my hero, Geoffrey Chaucer, even though it’s technically a poem, not a book. But I love it. Only in the original Middle English, of course.

What do you carry in your bag?

Well, it varies, but normally I carry a rucksack-type bag, as I’m not very girly. So, I usually have at least three paperback books, my purse, a hairbrush, a bus timetable, an assortment of tissues, lots of receipts, some hand-cream for my eczema, a pen (usually not working), a notebook, and a plastic bag to put everything into if (or, rather, when) it rains. The glamour of my life is just overwhelming, isn’t it? I should have my own style magazine.

What countries would you like to visit?

So many I can’t remember them all. I haven’t been to very many places so far! My dream destinations would include: Iceland, Scandinavia (anywhere – ideally all the Scandinavian countries), Belgium (to visit my friend Tine), Spain, Italy, Hungary (I’d love to see Budapest), Canada, and Antarctica. If Antarctica counts as a country.

If you compare yourself five years ago to yourself now, what has changed?

I’m not working as an English tutor any more, and I’ve had another job in that period too; I’m married now, but I hadn’t met my husband five years ago (though I was about to meet him, which is a happy thought); I’m following my dream in life now (i.e. I’m writing), whereas five years ago I wouldn’t have had the confidence or support network in place to help me to achieve this dream. So, a lot of positive changes have happened.

So, I hope that’s good enough for Ania, and that I haven’t bored the pants off the rest of you. I’ll try to be a little less self-absorbed in tomorrow’s blog post!

Image: thewritersadvice.com

Image: thewritersadvice.com

 

Dangerous Dreams

The world is frozen today. Everywhere I look, all I see is whiteness – the sky matches the ground, and there’s a quiet layer of frost over everything. I feel like the only living thing in a hundred miles.

Image: commons.wikimedia.org

Image: commons.wikimedia.org

Today I’m thinking about dreams – not so much the visions that dance behind your eyes when you’re asleep, but the hopes and plans you build for your future, which you work towards and focus on. They might be gentle, private dreams, ones that nobody else knows about, or they might be dreams you’ve chosen to share with your family and friends, or perhaps with the world at large. Whether everyone knows about your dream, or nobody does, the struggle to make it come true belongs to you, and you alone. Letting people into your dream means you have a wider support network to draw on (though you’ve bound to get some detractors, too.) Usually, people who love you will be behind you all the way, ready to help in whatever way they can. However, the thing with having a dream, one you’ve cherished and treasured all your life and hugged close to your heart, is that it becomes a part of you. No matter how many people stand around you cheering you on, working towards your dream can still seem like the most personal struggle you’ve ever faced.

I’ve posted before about how ready I am to face rejection and knockbacks. Of course, it’s one thing to have yourself steeled and prepared to go through rejection, and another thing altogether to actually go through it. I’ve never really gone through it because I’ve never allowed anyone to see anything I’ve written, with the exception of this blog. I can only hope I will manage to negotiate the difficult waters of rejection when it’s time for me to go through it for real. But over the last few days I’m realising how terrifying it can also be to meet with success, or at least the hint or possibility of success. Being longlisted for the competition I entered some time ago was wonderful, but also scary. It’s like having a crush on someone when you’re not completely ready to enter into a relationship with them, I suppose. Having feelings for someone which you keep to yourself, while treasuring the pain of your unrequited love, feels a lot like having a dream that you wish you could share with the world but which you’re afraid to even talk about with other people. If you do pluck up the courage to share your dream with the world, and you’re met with the merest hint of acceptance, it’s like the sweet horror that greets you when you tell your crush you love them – and they reciprocate.

I’ve been thinking about writing all my life, and I’ve been dreaming about writing for nearly as long. I’ve always wanted to do it professionally, but I never thought I actually would. I thought I’d keep it as ‘the great unattainable’, the tantalising thing just out of reach. I thought it would be a treasure just for me, and that I’d keep it safe inside my heart. And then life handed me the opportunity to give my dream a chance to set foot in the outside world, and I didn’t have any excuses any more. It was like someone telling my greatest crush exactly how I felt about them, spilling my secret love all over the place for everyone to see, and laugh at. But instead of my crush walking away from me, joining in the ridicule, he gazed at me and said, with a smile, ‘let’s give this thing a try’. And so, I’m starting to feel the terror now. The terror that maybe it might all work, it might all happen. Will I be good enough? Will I have what it takes to make it? Will my writing – my secret love – meet with approval?

Image: tradebit.com

Image: tradebit.com

I know that being longlisted for a competition isn’t the same thing as meeting with success. Things might still come to nothing, and I may yet have to pack my dream back up into my heart-coffer, and keep it for another day. But it’s a hint, a ray of hopeful light, a suggestion of what it might be like to make it, and I’m surprised to find that I’m scared by it.

It’s normal to be nervous of the new. Isn’t it?