I love you, Lady Slane

Writing is one hell of a job. I can totally understand those people who give up life altogether and instead find themselves eyeball-deep in the pressure of waking up every day with the belief that they can commit words of value onto a screen/notebook or whatever.

Imagine the luxury.

Imagine the isolation.

Imagine the procrastination.

I imagine a lot of things. My spaghetti bowl of neural pathways makes bloody sure of that. In my head there is a peaceful studio, with flowers and natural light. The temperature is perfect and there are endless pots of tea that make themselves. I drift, well-rested, into the room where I craft my words, prepared and ready. And they are my words. Ones I have chosen to use. Words that will open doors and make my name.

And then, once I’ve woken up, laughed myself bandy and called myself a pretentious wanker two thousand times, I find myself (once again) carting a laptop from buses to train and back again, from office to studio to interview. Hunching over makeshift desks, leaping not-at-all gracefully onto station platforms and precariously balancing a MacBook on my knees amongst the commuters, belting out copy whilst simultaneously trying to stay upright (dear reader, my ability to balance has not improved with age), ignore my phone (hah! Like that happens) and not smack any small children in the face with my handbag (always too unwieldy and never quite practical enough).

In short, it ain’t as easy as it looks.

But that’s not to say that I’m disillusioned with writing, quite the opposite. The more I do, the more I love it. It is both a crazy pleasure and an absolute privilege to be paid for this. But it doesn’t get easier over time and seeing yourself improve is a fallacy. I am always by own biggest critic. Well, I assume I am. No one has ever come out and told me that I’m downright shit, but that doesn’t mean that no one will, right?

The problem I have is a good one. I want to write more. I want to rant, write stories, scribble poems (they’re fucking godawful, but you’ve gotta start somewhere, yeah?), send letters and just be… prolific. But life gets in the way.

As someone who is greedy, excessively impressionable and also has her head up her arse, you might realise that I’ve read/seen/heard something that’s brought me to the natural conclusion that I’m lacking in something. And you’d be right. This particular little bundle of word vomit is almost entirely as a direct result of ‘All Passion Spent’ by Vita Sackville-West. When Lady Slane admits, aged eighty eight, that she had her life’s dream to be an artist thwarted by the expectations and needs of her husband, I felt utterly gutted for her. On the face of it, she had everything the heart could desire, but in order to have it she had to be someone else.

We all do it. We all make sacrifices. We have to. I mean, fucking hell, the world is like Valhalla as it is. Imagine if we all went on a “fuck everyone else, I’m just doing my own shit y’all” spree? It would be like the inside of Donald Trump’s head – all guns, hallucinations and sex workers pissing on the upholstery.

But we don’t need to sacrifice everything FFS. Even Mother Theresa hung on to her beloved racism while she fed the needy.

Right now I’m typing this on my phone. I’m on my way home from work and my train has been cancelled (thanks GWR, you big wankers!). It’s not ideal, but it’s doable. And because of Lady Slane, I’m not balancing my laptop on my knee in the waiting room. It’s half an hour that I’m not devoting to my job, or laundry, or traipsing round the supermarket, or collecting plates, cups and glasses from all over the house, or guiltily exercising so that I don’t keel over with a coronary and leave my daughter without a mother, but it’s half an hour that I’ll never regret.

It’s my time, for writing my own words. And I’m going to make more of them.

(Please don’t tell me I’m shit)

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