In the interests of carving out a regular blogging habit, I’m joining in with Bailey Jean’s wonderful ‘Blog-Tember’ challenge which is, essentially, to blog once a day every day in September in response to the prompts she has so kindly put together.
Today’s challenge (Sept. 1st) is to:
Imagine the front sleeve of a hard cover novel. Give us your “About the Author” so we can get to know one another, and for fun tell us what your imaginary novel would be about.
Helen, 40 – mother of two, adventurer extraordinaire, scrapbooker, baker, photographer, lover of life in all it’s glory, recently separated, nervously entering ‘Single Mum-dom’ – has high hopes of continuing to do all the things she loves whilst being a role model par excellence for her two little beauties. Planned future endeavours include publishing her first fiction title, launching a charity to support single mum entrepreneurs, taking said littles on many gob-smacking adventures and completing her totally do-able ’40 after 40′ bucket list, which includes such delights as ‘Give a TED talk’ and such mundanities as ‘Learn how to make meringue’. Don’t ever tell me I’m not versatile or open to any and every opportunity life will throw at me. And throw it does…
My imaginary novel?
It’s not so imaginary! I’m a writer by profession and have written hundreds of non-fiction pieces, including two non-fiction books. I recently made a commitment to myself to have my first fiction work accepted by a publisher by July 2015 (and if not, I’m sure as hell going to self publish that baby!). To this end, I need to get the damn thing out of my head and written down! I’m taking November to write it, on the back of the NaNoWriMo challenge – hey, if it was good enough for the ‘zenhabits’ guy to make him shake his world upside down, it’s good enough for moi! It’s all planned, I just need to bang out my 2500 words a day during November. Come Hell or high water it will be done!
What’s it about, you may well be asking? As Hemingway famously said, “All you have to do is write one true sentence. Write the truest sentence you know”. So, it’s about a woman who marries, moves to a country and way of life far from her own, lives through tortuous domestic abuse, lives through being falsely accused of having abducted her children, returns to said culture far from her own, in an endeavour to retain custody of her children, is subjected to further domestic abuse, including the theft – and destruction – of the majority of her possessions (including every single photo of her two children), faces a bitter divorce and, in the middle of all this, finds her true calling, complete with visions of angels.
Its full of ‘Life of Pi’ type musings on religion, spirituality, meditation and the meaning of life/happiness/purpose. It’s an Eat Pray Love for the non-priviliged, non-entitled set (I adore Elizabeth Gilbert’s writing but how many people, honestly, can jet off for months of ‘soul searching’ in glorious foreign climes as a way of getting over a divorce? Come on…!). It’s a call to arms to all battered women out there and for all wandering souls who aren’t actually lost but who just need a bit of a pat on the back accompanied by ‘You’re alright, mate’ type pep talks. It’s a ‘You know who you are, you’re just a bit down, let me be your role model to help you see a way out of your situation’ type book: if I can live to tell the tale after everything I’ve been through (and it’s a lot!), then what I’ve been through a) has to have all been for some higher purpose (please, God, please, don’t you let me down too!) and b) hopefully will show readers that they can bloody well live to tell – and own – their tale(s) too.
As the Western world is beginning to see, as we learn to value and appreciate vulnerability, we need truth tellers because – more than ever before – we need story tellers to have the courage to tell us their true and honest accounts of their fears and hardships, however uncomfortable that might be. Life is not perfect, never can be, never will be, but finding true joy – through acceptance of all that you are and all that you have lived – is a way out of the miseries and mundanities of life. It’s a way of sticking two fingers up to all the crap that advertisers try to sell us, using the false belief that said crap will make us happy. You know what? It doesn’t, won’t – can’t – make us happy, because ‘happy’ is not a commodity.
And you know who knows this better than anyone? People who’ve been through shit, seen horror, lived terror, moved out of their comfortable lives for a while and who, through this, have gained real insights in to life. These people don’t need new/improved/shiny, they need basic life-affirming sights, smells and sounds because they’ve lived through moments when they weren’t sure whether they’d live to have those experiences again. Gratitude, when seen through this lens, becomes everything, the basis for a renewed sense of profound, joyous, living. To be content with the fall of light on a leaf or the sound of a toddler’s laughter: they’re sources of true happiness.
And you know why? Those are things you learn to become grateful for when you’ve stared misery and death in the face, the things that no-one can take away. As Deepak Chopra says, “Happiness for a reason is just another form of misery, because the reason can be taken away from us at any time”. You place all your happiness in one basket – the basket of materialism – and you ain’t never going to be satisfied. But seek within, deep within, that’s where you’ll find it, that golden rush of pure joy. There’s something to be said for appreciating the ordinary, because in the ordinary there’s joy to be found.
So – ta da! – that’s the book in brief, a tale of woe, of passion, of survival. Of saying ‘Fuck it!’ to everything that tries to pull you down and moving on, glorious and radiant, towards a better, truer, life. Papa said, “All you have to do is write one true sentence. Write the truest sentence you know”. It’s a pretty good motto for life in general, too: live your truth, live the truest life you know. That’s the path to happiness. And it’s lined with gold. I know. I’ve seen glimpses of it and I want more. Who’s with me?