The sky is a cloudless blue, the sun is shining brightly and from inside, all I can think about is when I can go out, for a walk, for a trip to the supermarket, to visit a friend and sit outside. ‘Be outside,’ echoes in my head until I finally finish my late breakfast, drink my coffee and try not to complain since Naomi made it for me, but it’s oat milk whereas I prefer soya… I get on my shoes and my light spring puffer jacket, and step outside. Wow, much cooler than I thought. Ankles are cold over my sports shoes, face is freezing, hands are chilly. Wind is blowing. Feels like I accidentally turned on the cold water in the shower, by mistake.
I’m determined, so we walk to the supermarket, Naomi and I, avoiding the shade and at a fast pace, to keep our bodies warm. When she goes into the supermarket, I wait outside, in the sun. It feels a bit warm, but not really. I wait until she returns, with our goat milk yogurt, but missing the sushi rice.
‘Can you believe they didn’t have it, at Albert Heijn?’ I shake my head in dismay and we head over to the next supermarket in the neighborhood, Dirk. There’s a long line of people waiting at the entrance, and a lot of people waiting outside. As Naomi goes in, I cross the parking lot and stand in a sunny spot. There’s a little old lady wearing a headscarf and a mask, the fancy kind, with the filter in it, just under her nose. She seems to be talking to herself, but then again, with earbuds, don’t we all? I nod at her and gesture up towards the sun with a grateful smile. My mask is off, since I’m not in the supermarket and I’m a good 3 meters away from anyone else. She smiles back. We bask in the chilly sun as we wait for her daughter and mine to come back and join us.
Such is writing. Seems like a good idea until you actually get into it. Easy at first. Just put on your shoes and go outside. Or just sit down at your laptop and start typing. Word after word, maybe a paragraph or two. A description. Make sure to include the senses; the tenses should be right too.
But after a little while, you might realize you are not only the observer of life as it’s happening, you’re the little old lady too, waiting for the younger generation to make their debut and talking to yourself, under the guise of a blog…
And damn, is it colder than you thought!
And scarier to jump into the freezing water, or go outside, or press the ‘send’ button. Rejection is surely lurking just around the corner, just out of eyesight. Criticism too. My own, firstly, smelling like the garbage can, warmed by the sun, just about to be emptied, but for now, oozing putrid scents in the front yard. ‘You’re not very good, you know…’ they hiss. It’s hard to slam the trash lid on their heads. You don’t want to hurt their feelings.
So, for years, you live in the warm countries: Los Angeles, the South Pacific, Israel. Where the sea is warm and comforting (yes, true, there are sharks and such as well), and then one day you move to the Netherlands and among other things you’re doing, you decide it’s time to take your writing to the next level, since you’ve been writing since the age of 10.
You join a writing group and out of the blue you’re contacted by a publisher who wants to include a story of yours in his anthology. So, you become a published writer.
Now it’s years later and I’ve written a whole book, and lots of (as yet unpublished) stories and many many blog articles. But still afraid to push my work out there.
Maybe because of my first experience, I seem to be waiting for a publisher or agent to approach me: “Why don’t you let us publish your manuscript?” But that’s not happening. At least, not yet. And I’m writing my next book now, my memoir of those years as a kid in the South Pacific.
Well, universe, I’m ready!
I’m becoming a writer.