Too often, in the grand scale of things, I’m obsessed with doing, creating, achieving, finishing. So much so that when otherwise idle, as I’ve felt over the past day or so, and when challenged to ‘read a book,’ I find myself explaining, ‘but that’s not really doing anything!” Err, apparently, wrong!
There are four books, novels, that I have on my bedside table, which I need to read. It’s hard to read, to receive the creative thoughts of another, when you’re in the throes of creating yourself. In the throes, yourself, of creating. Either interpretation is apt. So I’ve put off the reading experience until I get my finished trilogy to market. I think I’ve got everything sorted now, so the vast empty space of ‘what to do now?’ spreads out before me.
And so today I shall curl up, slouch down, sofa-surf and imbibe deeply of the first of the four target novels. To be fair, I’m half-way through and exclaiming: ‘This is what real novelists do, how they write, and how can I ever hope to achieve such heights?’ I always forget that I’m reading perhaps the last novel of a creative’s output, and I’m only just at the beginning of my own odyssey in the arts.
But by sitting quietly with the book, already I’ve had an idea for pursuing the historical angle of my next project, ‘Keep Me in Your Heart,’ that gladdens my own heart. Perhaps we can make an investigative journey, from the battlefields around Albert and back to Amiens, from whence my young protagonist and his lover-rescuer travel west towards Brittany. We could travel in our ancient motorhome, comfortably pushing into the setting sun, while we do the practical research that will underpin the historical fiction. I know now how long the gestation of a hundred or so thousand words can take, and I know that I can last the journey, creatively, as long as the physical side holds out. And what a profound feeling it could be, to travel in the fictional footsteps of my émigré hero. Almost as if we’re making the journey for him, or for the young couple embarking on their new life together.
So while I set these matters aside as it were, park them in a compartment where they’re only just accessible, my mind can be eagerly appreciating the writing odyssey of somebody else. Reading for pleasure, I can dive deep into a different story.
And still exhort myself that I’m actually ‘doing’ something. That has to be a very special kind of joy.