When she was three years old my baby girl crawled on my lap in my study and asked me what I was doing.
“I’m writing a book,” I said.
“Well, that’s just adicalus,’ she said. She had heard her mother use the word ‘ridiculous’ (probably in relation to my efforts to build a patio) and it had become her word of the month.
‘Come on,’ she yelled, grabbing my hand, ‘let’s get out of here and do something fun!’
My little baby is 25 years old now and is halfway through a degree course in creative writing and comparative literature in London.
I don’t know when she discovered books were fun.
I like to tell myself that it was when I was reading her Pongwiffy the Witch and doing all the funny voices. But as her favorite authors are Ian Banks and Hunter S. Thompson and Charles Bukowski I think I might be delusional.
I don’t know when she discovered that writing could be as good as playing crocodiles. But I had been writing professionally for 15 years when I read her school essay on Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein and felt like giving up.
She got an A+ of course.
People have sometimes said she must be a chip off the old block but she really isn’t. She’s a completely new block made of a wood of much finer grain. She’s antique mahogany. I’m kind of the bent shelf in the garage.
I never encouraged Junior to write, or even talked much about it when she was growing up. I was more into playing ‘crocodiles’ at the beach (her sister would sometimes forget I wasn’t a real crocodile and try to hold my head under the water) or water fights or hide and seek.
I was a bit like Chandler Bing in Friends – they knew I had a job but they weren’t quite sure what it was.
Well, yes and no.
I don’t even know what the publishing world will look like when she gets out of university.
A week might be a long time in politics, but in the modern publishing world go to sleep for a week and you’ve missed two new social networking sites and a vital marketing tool.
But as we speak there she is she is dissecting Homer’s Odyssey, reading The Tempest and Dante’s Inferno (usually in an afternoon) and is just about to start Beowulf.
She devours great literature like a whale trawling plankton. I am in awe.
So I don’t know. Will she write one day?
I hope so and I don’t hope so. I love what I do with an absolute passion. I love stories and the written word.
But there have been times writing has brought me so low that I once climbed out onto the windowsill and threatened to jump.
A mate had to talk me down.
I do know this: I hope that one day the most important book in her library is not Homer or Dante or Shakespeare but whatever book she reads her kid at night.
I know it was for me, because I had junior and her big sister tucked under my shoulder at the time, and it’s the one book I’d give anything one day to read again.
With all the funny voices.
‘Spectacular historical fiction blazing with intrigue, romance and dramatic action’
OR SEE THE KINDLE VERSION HERE.
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I’m away for the next 3 weeks so there’s no newsletter this month – and I’m re-running the best of my very earliest posts that you may have missed. I hope you like them.