There is something strange, eerie about having started a book. I have begun a story and Suva and Kytö are right in the middle of things, but I’ve left them in their worlds, frozen. I wonder if they continue without me or if they’re waiting. I imagine they’re waiting because it was me who created them after all and it is only me who can actually know for certain where they should be going. Or do I? Do characters have a life of their own, do they write themselves?
You hear of so many authors proclaim unabashedly that their characters just led them by the hand and created their own destinies. I wonder if Suva and Kytö are doing the same. Are they secretly hatching plans while I get on with my own life?
That’s the other thing, I have this whole other real life too, where the dishes need doing and buses need catching at ridiculous times in the morning and work needs to be attended and meals need to be cooked and children need to be put to bed and laundry needs to be done etc etc and by the time I have time to write, I’d rather not. I feel a mild guilt but total justification in leaving my two protagonists to get on with things (or not) in my absence. They’ll still be there when I get back to them after all. My eyelids just feel too droopy and I start yawning, like I’m doing now and the last thing I want to do, is write something that’s just doomed to the scrapheap of forgotten manuscripts.
You see since coming back to the UK, I’m back to teaching. So much has changed in education in the three and half years that I have been away and yet it’s all comfortingly familiar. One of the more familiar feelings is the all-encompassing mind-set that comes with teaching. It’s all I think about, when I’m not thinking about household bits and bobs. Before I left, that’s all I ever was, ‘a teacher’. I may have been a mother and a wife but when I found myself in India without a job, with an opportunity to be anything at all, I felt I was lost. I kept grasping at thin air, coming away with handfuls of nothing until I stumbled upon writing. But I WAS a teacher and when I wasn’t teaching, I became zero. Not worthless, but simply back at a starting point.
That feeling of a loss of identity was terrifying for a while and I promised myself that I would never allow myself to again become what I do, not in that sense, anyway. I no longer want to be identified by my job, although what I will eventually be identified as or by may not be entirely up to me.
In the meantime, as a family, we’ve just come back from watching The BFG. Once again, I was inspired. I had tears in my eyes from the laughter and poignancy of a children’s book, of the genius of Roald Dahl and I know that I’ll never be able to do that, but I must try.
So back to now: I have six weeks to finish my first draft (summer holidays only last that long). I have to do it otherwise I’m doomed and Kytö and Suva will just fade away and that’s not fair, because they never really asked to be born in the first place.
As a writer (although, I’m not sure that I am), as their creator I have a responsibility towards them that I must not shirk. That reminder on my phone telling me to write 1000 words a day has actually been pretty useless except in making sure that I do feel a little guilty every time I press ‘ignore’.
So off I go now, to write and stuff. No more excuses! Suva, Kytö, I’m comiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiing!