I always get a little prickly when someone says: If I had a bit of time, I'd write a book. First, it feels like an encroachment on my territory - I never say, If I had a bit of time, I'd be a brain surgeon. Secondly, it feels like a covert attack on my own process of becoming a writer. It's taken decades. And I still don't think I'm there. Writing is a craft, and a very difficult one, I think, and like anything that requires skill and knowledge and experience, those fifty thousand hours are required.
I spent the weekend with a group of close friends and family celebrating my son's eighteenth birthday. I rejoiced, then, in joys of building and nurturing relationships. These people, who know me so well, warts and all, and whom in return I love as much are a symbol of all that really matters to me. Last night I went to sing carols with my theatre group - again, decades of belonging. As with community so with writing books. It takes time. And nurturing, and sometimes the sense that this digging deep and keeping faith is a replacement for something much more buzzy and exciting just round the corner. I'm constantly fighting the feeling that I should be doing something more pressing, more immediately effective, that will make more of a difference.
Part of the human condition, I suppose, never to be satisfied. To know that there'll always be someone else, or somewhere else, or something else that could have occupied that hour or year or lifetime. But I think, for now, as I sit at my very old desk (dining table inherited from a friend of my grandmother's), looking out at very old allotments, I'll settle for roots, and slow-burners.