So for the sake of playing an open hand, let me be the first to admit I’m pretty darn shoddy when it comes to New Year’s Resolutions. Once it was to learn all the lyrics to Rapper’s Delight. I got as far as two verses before packing it in. Another was to finally conquer the rubix cube. For all a friend’s efforts to show me ‘the knack’, my cube eventually became yet another ornamental whim. Last year I gave up on the idea altogether and left it at that. Successfully avoid feeling like a failure by simply setting myself adrift for the year of 2016. But this year, somewhat in spite of myself, I think I’ve got one.
For some time now, I’ve been agonising over writing a book. Okay, who am I trying to kid…? It’s been the better part of my entire life! But every idea seemed lacklustre… Who would want to read that?! And so it was that idea after idea got scrapped and chucked in the proverbial waste paper basket. But a holiday of ocean breezes and shooting stars has done me some good. Barely a week ago, I woke one morning to the light of the rising sun and whittled away at chapter outlines and the vague beginnings of a book baby, the sounds of the crashing waves drowning out all murmurings of my habitual self doubt.
Before long though, they started to niggle at me… Who INDEED would want to read that?! And there it was again. But this time I was putting up a fight. Waste paper baskets be damned!
And so I thought back to all the books I had loved and cherished…. Seldom one bearing any resemblance to the one that came before. They didn’t have to be Man Booker winners. It didn’t matter if they were short or long. Some were even picture books (and let it be known, I have an astounding collection for someone with no children to call her own!)… But I think what they all shared, at the end of the day, was that each and every one had been made with love.
Nick Hornby transformed me in my teenage years into an avid Arsenal fan after Fever Pitch. And his collection of essays dedicated to the music he loved in 31 Songs was nothing short of sublime, a book I could pick up again and again. When the cover of Leviathan or the Whale by Philip Hoare first piqued my curiosity, I can’t say I had any particular interest in whales or their mythical proportions. I couldn’t even claim to have read Moby Dick. But his resounding love for the creatures and their rich history swept me away with the turn of every page. In matters of the home, it was Laetita Maklouf’s The Virgin Gardener that I thank today for the humble attempt I’ve made on my balcony. And I am eternally grateful to these writers for sharing in their enthusiasm.
So for 2017 I’ve made a pact with myself. Write what you love. What matters is not the Pulitzers, the book deal, the hoards of fans. What matters is that you spilled your heart out.
But love is not reserved for books alone. It goes for all things in life. The children we bring into this world. The food we prepare… Even when it’s dinner for one. The friendships we form. The four walls we transform into homes. Whether you’re a hairdresser or a painter, a bricklayer or a gardener, a mother or a poet, or all of the above… There is a place for love in all that we do. Clinging to this, whatever we may make of our lives, we can look back and say we did it with love. And that is enough. At least I’d like to feel so.
Featured image: Typewriter by Kate Seeley