Do you have a passion? Is there something in your life that makes your heart race, that shoots electricity to your extremities when you think about it, that gives you a buzz that nothing else quite tops? (No. Not sex. Concentrate!)
I’m not known for extremes. When I drink coffee I don’t get a caffeine hit. I spent over a decade exercising like a lunatic chasing an endorphin thrill that I was promised would come but never did. I am immune to these sensations (and I’m not alone – there is science, apparently, behind why some people just don’t feel it). It doesn’t worry me. It’s just who I am.
Now bear with me. I feel a little exposed committing this next bit to paper.
I went to the Harrogate Crime Writing Festival today and sat in the second row listening to those talented people who have achieved what I can only dream of. There’s nothing new in that. Whenever there’s a practising author in the vicinity, you can usually find me sitting nearby, notebook in hand. All aspiring writers and also, as I learned today, real writers love listening to others talk about their craft.
So what made today worthy of note?
Well, there I was listening to the extremely talented Lynda La Plante tell us anecdotes about her writing life. If you ever get a chance to hear her speak then snatch it up. You won’t be disappointed. Not only does she have lots of fascinating stories to tell but she recounts them in a way that had us weeping with laughter.
Anyway, back to my legal high. I am listening, enraptured by this woman who is living the life that I would love to have and I realise that there’s this strange sensation building in my chest. I have to take extra large gulps of air just so that I can keep up with the demands that my heart is making. Even my scalp is fizzing and I’m smiling so broadly that my eyes are barely open. This feels great. I am happy.
Then her words take a more sombre turn. She tells us that an aspiring writer must keep going no matter how hard it gets and must remember that ‘rejection doesn’t mean no.’
That’s when it happened. I just burst into tears – just like that. I’m listening to Lynda La Plante speak and there are tears cascading down my cheeks. That’s not a normal response, is it? And then I know, without a shadow of doubt, that this writing lark is truly, truly important to me.
The rest of the audience is enjoying her speak, totally unaware of the Damascus moment that I have just experienced but for me it’s as if a whole heaven of lightbulbs has lit up over my head.
I know what I am taking on. I know how much hard work is needed and how slim the chances are of me receiving any recognition for what I do but that really doesn’t matter. It’s about finding the thing that makes your heart sing and then holding on to it for all that you’re worth.
All I have to do is to keep putting one word in front of another and never give up.