Twelve months ago walking in Spain I’d reached a crossroads. The upper branches of an ancient olive on my left quivered in an occasional breeze. Though there were clouds the sun was hot. I’d forgotten my hat. My throat ached for water. Rivulets of perspiration trickled into my eyes. My swollen feet felt certain to burst their boots. There was nothing to do but continue walking so I turned the corner and carried on down the road. Shuffling along I began to meditate on the next metamorphosis, the reason for being there in the first place.
For far too long I’d been plowing the same furrow, reaping an ever decreasing harvest. Work had become a drudgery. After too many years in the same job familiarity was breeding contempt. The safe course was to grin and bear it, carry on until retirement’s release but that option, like a solitary withered corn stalk that no amount of water or nourishment would ever revive, offered nothing. The roadside, bedecked with a medley of poppies, forget-me-nots and butter cups, a cascade of colour in spring, encouraged more positive thoughts. Slowly an idea began to take root and with each step grew, like the spring flowers, into something new and refreshing. I would take a vow of poverty and become a writer.
During the three months my contract had to run I occupied myself with designing a ridiculously optimistic writing plan and at the end of August last year I politely refused the offer of an extension. The following Monday, having set the alarm as normal, I carried a pot of coffee up into the studio and set to work. Research and study absorbed the first three months and the ridiculously optimistic writing plan underwent alteration, renovation, modification, transformation, reshaping, remoulding, remodelling, and, finally, a sea change. Progress was a case of two steps forward, three sideways, two more to the other side, five back, one forward, spin, fall down, get up and try again. It felt more like the hokey cokey than a march towards a fulfilling future. Nevertheless, somewhere in the swirl of the early months I’d managed to complete a couple of short stories and sent them off to a variety of publications to see what would happen. Unsurprisingly they were either ignored or rejected.
In the meantime I made contact with a professional writer whose only advice was to get a part time job because writing was unlikely to pay either now or in the foreseeable future. Figuring that was sound advice I remodelled the slightly more realistic writing plan, cut down on the number of parallel work streams, extended the delivery time frames (again) and began to look for a job that would not interfere with writing too much.
It took a while but finally the “dream” job arrived. I clean houses for young professionals too busy to do it themselves and households where, for one reason or another, the owners are unable to bend, stretch, scrub and scrape as well as they did in the past. When told of this the faces of friends would screw into a question not dissimilar to, “Are you out of your mind?” But after explaining the job offers 20 hours of low impact exercise and stretching per week, I commute by bicycle on dedicated cycle paths and the work provides just enough money to allow writing to continue, but not enough to make writing unnecessary, over the long term their faces relax into a resignation akin to, “Yes, he has lost his mind.”
So the rhythm of work and writing steadied. Then, one bright spring morning, an email came through from BLYNKT Magazine. A submission had been accepted! Yes, I am officially a published writer. The magazine is here: BLYNKT Magazine. Linkable articles can be found here: Linked Articles. At some time in the not too distant future each piece will be featured on the BLYNKT Facebook page. When I hear the date I’ll add it to this post.
This is only the first step of what is, hopefully, a long journey but forgive me if I take the afternoon off to celebrate with a glass of wine (or two) and a North Carolina style barbecued chicken. Yee haw!!