'Life shrinks or expands in proportion to one's courage.'
Anaïs Nin, Diary, 1969
This is a shorter post than usual because I'm on the move, or at least I'm about to be. Good news is that my publisher has lifted the geographical restrictions from my new novel, Flight, so if you are outside of Australia or New Zealand, you can now buy the ebook through Amazon. Unfortunately these restrictions haven't yet been lifted on my earlier novel, Gathering Storm, so that might still be difficult to obtain.
Over the past week or two I've begun packing my study into boxes, sorting my books and notes into three categories: those I no longer need, those I want but can be parted with for a few years, and those that I will need with me in Wales. This last category will take three months to reach me, and as I pack them away I feel more and more bereft, cut off from the knowledge within their pages and afraid that there isn't enough knowledge within me to draw on in their place. I've become reliant on the knowledge of others, subsumed into the academic way of thinking that demands arguments are supported by the weight of history not personal experience. Now, or at least for a few months, I will need to draw on my own reserves. Perhaps this will be good for me. But nevertheless I feel a surge of trepidation as I tape up the last of the boxes and wait for the removal company to collect them.
I look around my empty writing room. I have written novels here, completed my PhD, written numerous blog posts and essays. . . This space and I have got along together, understood each others needs and over time become an effective writing team. But now the comfortable writing space that I have constructed over a number of years is gone. The atmosphere has changed beyond recognition. Noises bounce around the bare walls; it feels colder, less friendly, a room that awaits a new occupant, a new stage in its history. Perhaps I will come back to it one day, perhaps not. Either way, for the next few months I will be writing in strange places: motel rooms, airports, planes, trains, the homes of friends and relatives, a caravan . . . Until I find a new home, I will have to make do, be less precious about shutting the door to the rest of the world, less precious about my writing rituals, and instead carry my creativity with me, drawing on it as and when I get the opportunity. I think back to all the excuses I've used in the past for not writing (see Writing Space and Time) no space (physical or mental), no time, no focus, no confidence. . . all of the excuses inspired by fear: fear of failure, fear of success, fear of confronting what is inside me that needs to be written, fear of writing what I have confronted inside myself. . . I have forced myself to overcome so many fears, rarely understanding their source, only recognising the danger of the paralysis they create.
All this time spent cocooned inside my writing room has meant a good deal of looking inwards, numerous terrifying and exhilarating descents into the psyche to dig up the shadows within. No doubt there will be many more of these descents because life was never intended to be static. And who would want it that way? But for now it feels as if I am suddenly being turned inside out. Forced to emerge blinking into the light. A butterfly? Perhaps not, but transformed nevertheless. And ready to live well in the world. Now I will write wherever I find myself, drawing on that reserve of strength and confidence which we all carry within ourselves. There will always be fear but this time, instead of overcoming it, I will take its hand and together we will step into the future.
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