Something happened to me last year. I don’t even know if I can describe what it was. A kind of existential crisis maybe? The heavy knowledge that my best years were behind me? The sense of my own impending death racing towards me far faster than I had previously thought? Yeah some of those things. Happens to all of us – eventually you realize you’re not going to last forever.
But more than that: you realize that from now on, there will probably be more pain than pleasure. This is when people start dying in earnest. This is when I’ll have to cope with the loss of my father again, only times ten. First my grandparents will go and then probably my Mum and my Auntie and statistically speaking my husband. If I don’t go before all of them.
And I know this is reality. I accept it, and understand my misery when I think of this. What I didn’t expect is for it to have such a strange impact on my writing. When I first started to feel this way, I lost the will to write. It just went away as though it was never there. I didn’t care.
Writing is difficult, and I didn’t want to spend the few happy moments I have left doing it. Or at least I think that’s what happened. There might be some feeling of failure or fear of it in there. Maybe I was worried that no one would like the next book I did. One thing no one tells you is that after you get lucky enough to be published and gain a following, most of your thoughts are then occupied by letting those people down.
Instead of feeling free to write whatever I wanted as I had in the beginning – instead of thinking my life was all ahead of me and full of possibilities – I felt as though the ending had been written. This was it for me. I could only do one certain thing in one certain way and that was all.
And then I started to write Intrusion.
I thought I would find it hard, writing this book. It’s the first of a trilogy for an important publisher with a new editor. The editor approached me – I didn’t sell these books to her. I’m pretty sure the pressure should have killed my ability to write stone dead. And yet the strangest thing happened as I worked on it. I found myself thinking of it all the time. My thoughts were consumed by it, just like in the early days of my writing career.
I have no idea why. Maybe it’s because this is the first time in two years that I’m writing way in advance of a deadline instead of right down to the wire. It could be that the idea is still fresh to me: it hit like a lightning bolt when the editor asked me for a brief outline of what I was going to be doing for her. Perhaps I was just ready to be new again. And of course there’s the fact that it’s inspired by Silence of the Lambs and Hannibal and Red Dragon and Will Graham – all things that have rich roots in the soil of my soul.
I don’t know. But whatever it is: this book has saved me. I wish I could say it in a less melodramatic way, but I can’t because it’s just true. This book reminded me of why I should keep going, despite my despair. It’s given me back some hope again – not that I’ll be successful and no one will die and everything will be ok.
Just that I will be ok if that isn’t the case.
My imagination will still be with me – the thing that has been my constant friend, my constant love, my greatest weapon and strongest ally. Tomorrow I might feel bad. I might hurt again. I could spend the day laid down with thoughts of everyone eventually withering away in my head. But Bertha will still be there when I’m done.
I promise you, she will still be there.
P.S. My book Beyond Repair comes out tomorrow at EC (Amazon etc to follow) so I thought I’d say a tiny summat about it here. It’s got a movie star hero! It has lots of angst and secrets! It’s my first real NA book since Sheltered! Get it here: