It’s been weeks since I last blogged. Apologies, but I had a non-fiction book commission that had to be turned around quickly and coupled with working on my novel, I felt a bit burnt out on the writing front. Besides, every sunny day is much like the last around here – what else have I got to say? I’m done with ranting about Dominic Cummings and you already know that I am enjoying lockdown.
But I do have an idea. At the weekend, the Guardian Weekend ran a series of articles by writers who were asked to pen a letter to their future selves one year on, to remind them of the lockdown experience and what they learned from it. I thought it was a great premise, so have decided to write my own. Why don’t you try it too? Anyway, here goes…
Dear future me,
What does your diary look like? Do you remember that it was page after page of empty white space during lockdown and how the pink, orange and green highlighters used to colour code your life, lay unused and drying in a cup? I hope you haven’t forgotten how much you loved that. All that time to spend however you wished. No more pointless networking breakfasts, social events you’d been coerced into or the endless taxiing of teenagers from one activity to the next. Even supermarket trips were off. It saved hours.
The icing on the cake was that epiphany, delivered by a potential client who said she had ‘important’ business to discuss on a bank holiday weekend and went on to write ‘I don’t have a lot of time on my hands like you.’ The cheek of it. She had never even met you. I hope you thanked her, because it was an important lesson. It doesn’t matter if you are a king or a pauper, everyone’s time is of equal value. It is too precious to fritter on people or activities that do not warrant it. Do you know anyone who would take money over more time on their death bed? Thought not…
I trust that you are still writing for an hour every morning as that was the most wonderful discovery of all. You’d spent a lifetime berating yourself for not writing and then rubbishing what you produced if you did. No wonder there was neither the inspiration nor the drive to complete a novel. All that changed after you embraced the ‘golden hour’. Every morning you rose early and wrote for sixty minutes, no matter how tired you felt. Yes, it was tough leaving a warm bed for an empty study, but so worth it. Writing daily unleashed the magic. The novel’s characters came alive; they whispered their secrets throughout the day and night. They were endlessly fascinating and gave lockdown life meaning and purpose. Remember that, like time, meaning and purpose are on your must have list. Along with great coffee.
There were others things too. The joy of cooking meals from vegetables you’d never seen before, lazy lunches in the sunshine, exploring local nature reserves and sitting to meditate in the graveyard. The birds sang so loudly, the sky was an endless blue and stillness pervaded everything. Life was so rich. It always had been, you just couldn’t see it. Don’t forget. Keep on writing. Learn to say ‘no’ and never, ever give a minute of your time to anyone who doesn’t either pay for or deserve it. Please.
PS And don’t forget to stay loyal to all the businesses that delivered to your door – thank-you Oddbox, Green Cola, Wags ‘n’ Tales, Waitrose Rapid, Harvey & Brockless and Oliver’s Bakery.