I’m newly returned from holiday, a week of the most utterly blissful relaxation and family time imaginable, the return from which has opened up a gaping chasm of sadness within me. I want to go back. Why can’t I go back?
Going back to work after a week away must be one of the worst feelings imaginable, even if you do, like me, really rather enjoy your job. I imagine there’s an inverse happiness to sadness ratio involved; the better the time away, the harder the return to the normal world.
For me it’s especially hard given that it was a glimpse of the kind of life I’d utterly love to lead. There I was, sitting in the garden of a lovely cottage in the Lake District; resplendent view ahead of me, the glass of wine beside me, the laptop open in front of me, and suddenly writing was the easiest thing in the world. You might think it’s a bit mad to take your laptop on a family holiday, but that’s what I did.
Now I can see why writers (successful ones who can survive on it) fashion a world for themselves where slipping into the zone is the easiest thing in the world, be it in a custom made shed, a proper oak panelled office, or a cottage with a wonderful view. It remains for me the ultimate goal, to be able to write for a living. Gone is the idealism of my youth, when I believed it would just somehow magically happen for me. That’s been replaced with the pragmatism of more advanced years. My career is actually a thing now, something I can genuinely be proud of, and something that can actually support the family (and pay for the aforementioned occasional holiday cottage). But that’s not to say the dream of being a writer is in any way lessened, even if I now fully realise how unlikely a dream it is.
On the contrary, the new career has focused my extracurricular zeal and desire. I’ve never been so committed to the dream. My novel is approaching completion, with just a handful of pages to edit before the second draft is done, and then I’ll send it out to the world to a select few to see what they think. I’ve got a plan for the third draft, a project plan, submission checklist and agency database all in the wings, waiting for me to be satisfied enough with my manuscript to start the submission and rejection process. The chances that I’ll end up even published are statistically unkind, let alone that I’ll ever find an audience. But who knows?
Tonight I return home from a hard day’s work, feed the kids, put them to bed and open the laptop, and have at another chunk of manuscript. I’ll write on a sofa, with the thunderous footsteps of my children as much of a soundtrack as my carefully selected writing playlist. There won’t be a resplendent view, or an idyllic setting, or a workspace I can cocoon myself into. There won’t even be a full mental capacity, given how mind bending a day it’s been at the day job (who knew so many emails could be received in just a week?), but at least now I’ve got an idea of what I’m playing for; that one day, just maybe, I might be one of those writers who gets to write all day, in a beautiful setting, with a glass of wine by their side.