It’s been well over a year since I dunked my head under the waves of web design. You know, I.T. in various permutations has formed the bulk of my adult life’s work. It’s funny how easily it washed away the minute I decided to leave and become an author. Forgetting was easy, so easy. I dropped it, discarded on the floor and turned my face towards the new light. But it wasn’t for nothing that I scorned a life’s career.
I remember, distinctly being around six years old and skipping my way along a stepping-stone footpath and narrating my own actions in my head, “She skipped along the stepping-stones, one by one…” It was around the same time that I wrote my first hilariously misspelled rhyming couplets poem. It was about flowers and how they must be sad because they couldn’t play and sing and shout like us. What I’m saying is, it was easy to get shot of I.T. when I remembered I had been a writer for as long as I could remember.
Remembering was the trick. I knew it was what I wanted to do. But when the careers advisers tell you that journalism is your only choice, and your 17-year-old self sees the sleazy tabloid hacks whose only remit seems to be to destroy people, and Caitlin Moran doesn’t even exist back then, well, it was easy to think that writing was no kind of life for a sensible person. But there was money in I.T., a job with structure, something to grasp on to.
It hit me one day, that I had started hating my job. I was 34. On my walk to work every morning, I would look at the drift of the clouds and a story would come into my head. I began to fall in love with it. I knew it would take a lot of effort to write, I knew that I could only do that with the support of my husband and that it would be a strain on us, financially. I also knew that I had to do it. It took fourteen months, and from it, Two Palaces was born.
So now I am floating in the agonising drift of time between finishing a book and finding that self-validation that comes with someone who wants to step forward and take my work to the rest of the world. It’s like waiting for medical test results to come back. At first you fear the worst, then you wonder what would happen if the results were good, and start planning the rest of your life, then you go back to fearing the worst and finally, inexorably, you stop caring about good or bad and start just wanting to hear something, anything. I am Tantalus, surrounded by water, unable to drink, burned by thirst, unable to even drown myself and have it over with.
I walk to the stifling temp job I have taken up – yes, I.T. again – while I wait for an agent to find me. I walk to work and watch the drift of the ever-changing clouds.