A PACKAGE has been left for me in the church office. I open it excitedly and expectantly and there it is – a copy of The Making of Memory by Steven Rose, lent to me by a church member and retired doctor – a very thoughtful and clever man. The loan is a result of a conversation we had last week.
This would never happened a couple of years ago.
Because the reason my friend has lent me a book on memory is because that he knows I am writing a book relating to the subject. The reason he knows is because I told him. If people ask me what I am spending my time on, I tell them I’m writing a book. If they’re not careful, I tell them what it’s about. If they make the mistake of appearing really interested, I’ll start talking to them about their brains. Their brains.
Previous versions of me shudder at the thought – being bold enough to talk about my writing? Confessing (with no coercion) that I am writing a book? And – unheard of – telling them what it’s about?
It’s not as if I’ve never tried to write a book before. So what’s the difference? Why now?
There are two main reasons, I think – one general and one specific. The first reason is that I have now owned my vocation as a writer.That is what I am. I no longer say things like ‘I’d love to write’ or ‘I like writing’; I say ‘I am a writer’. If they ask me what I write, well, I’ve already told you what happens then.
The second reason, I have recently realised, is that I love this book. The more I research, the more interested I get. The possibilities breed and expand, connections are made, and the more I discover the more I love it. It’s not petering out, not like previous projects. This time it’s different. I’m not hampered by worry over its potential success. I want to finish this book. Actually, from my perspective, it feels like it wants me to write it, which is the other way round.
Those are two of the reasons why this time it’s different. And the sense of purpose can occasionally be intoxicating. Of course, there’s a lot of hard work involved. I know it will take a lot of effort to do this and to do this well. But I have every intention of doing it. Which, I suppose, is Reason Number 3.