Written 10th April
I’m doing that thing again, the one where I tell everyone I’m going to do something incredibly challenging and complicated…then as time pours through my fingers, drips away in front of me, I have to take steps to actually achieve it.
I’m going to walk across Europe, did you know that? Have I mentioned it yet? The book is done and dusted, it’s out in the world and two months later the flurry of publishing excitement has died down. It just exists now, my book, my story of a long walk in Wales and maybe it will continue to sell and maybe it won’t and there is very little I can do to influence that. My publicist has received her thank you bunch of flowers, there is no more mainstream media to follow up on, the book just sits on shelves now and waits for word of mouth.
So there are no more excuses, no more weeks blocked out to receive an edit, no more bundles of paper that should be carefully scanned for mistakes. The book is done and now I look ahead to the next project. I guess it’s walking across Europe.
It’s partly an idea that I decided upon a few years ago, to return to the place I left before cancer, pick up the threads of a life left behind. I don’t know what will happen, whether I can do that. The naive freshness of 31 has become a jaded 38; I’m no longer in awe of the new, delighted by people’s stories. I feel the beginnings of middle age – the tiredness, a life solidifying, turning to comfort and repetition. But I can’t stay in this small town, the prospect of a life at close to mimimum wage, staying alone while families multiply around me is too sad, too dull, too depressing. A pathetic prospect. I’ll go then, even though it’s intimidating, even though I don’t know if my feet will take the strain, even though I’ve got no money; because I might as well, because I can’t face doing anything else, because there’s nothing else I’d rather do.
So here begins the list making stage of preparation, the getting as many jobs as possible, the trying to lose weight and occasionally going to the gym stage, the stage that is all fear and no excitement – where I’m starting to take this journey seriously and realising just how far away I am from actually being able to achieve it.
I am a baker.
I am a supermarket worker.
I wash up in a cafe.
I am a life model.
I have a book for sale.
I am a public speaker.
I am a writer.
All these things I do for money take varying amount of time but there is never more than an hour or two to rest – and in those resting hours I work on my to-do list. Renew passport. Book podiatrist. Design new website. Order maps. It is exhausting. But I have to do it. I’ve decided to go on a walk that might take two years and, right now, after working 2.5 years part time in order to write a book, I have 500GBP in savings. Money will come, it always does, but at this early stage of preparation, all I see are problems, everywhere I look.