As I Walked Out One Midsummer Morning by Laurie Lee
The stooping figure of my mother, waist-deep in the grass and caught there like a piece of sheep’s wool, was the last I saw of my country home as I left it to discover the world. She stood old and bent at the top of the bank, silently watching me go, one gnarled red hand raised in farewell and blessing, not questioning why I went. At the bend of the road I looked back again and saw the gold light die behind her; then I turned the corner, passed the village school, and closed that part of my life forever.
I have blamed Laurie Lee, as well as other writers, for my proclivity to wander away from the old and familiar. My life has been punctuated with commas, colons and semi-colons. Every now and again, there is a full-stop. A changing of the paragraph. Even a new chapter. I have seen life through the stanzas of poetry, followed its nuances in the flow of a novel, and am now bent over a screen for the completion of a blog. In the past, I have retrodden the steps of those I most admired; to little avail. I am still not a writer.
When I woke up this mid-winter morning, it was not to the scent of often chased success, but to a dawning realisation that the light was dying behind me. Regardless of all my attempts, I have failed to gain readers. My words must be empty, my ideas cliches, and my approaches anachronistic.
I woke this mid-winter morning and descended the stairs in order to check my computer for the dreaded stats that plainly showed that nobody was really reading my words. The irony is that, only yesterday, I was writing a blog about the distance I had travelled over the last year. That distance was negated by my need to be read; my need to be acknowledged.
“What’s wrong, Mike?” My wife asked.
I came back with nothing. I had returned to bed, and sleep, and reawakening, only to realise that it was beginning to slip through my fingers again. That thread, that narrative of hope, was being cut away by the return of doubt, self-doubt. Perhaps this was it. Perhaps it was my lot.
Eventually, I answered her.
My wife is a beautiful woman in both skin and mind. She is also practical.
“This re-blogging of old posts, where did you learn that from?”
“I know that you are right. I shouldn’t do it.”
“It gets confusing for the reader. It gets confusing for me, and I’m your wife. And I know your stuff!”
I didn’t know what to do. I could finish the writing there and then, throw away a whole life of longing, concentrate on something more reasonable like dying (at least there is certainty there – I could die as well as any other person). Bu, if all our experiences are just one long walk from the critical cradle to the disappointing grave, I wonder why we bother.
“The Piper,” she announced. “You should spend some of your efforts on re-writing The Piper. How much would you change it? Would you keep all of the characters? Would you keep Liam Flowers and the Andrews family?”
“Yes, I would. I would thin it out a lot. Get rid of some of the back-stories. Re-write the whole thing so that it flows rather than flops. Some of my passages were painful to read. It was a writer trying to show that he could write whilst using every trite trick in the bag to showboat his talents. Now it’s been dead for a while, I think it’s time to revive it. Come forth, The Piper.“
“You could write a blog about writing The Piper with all the difficulties of re-writing. You could ask for advice from the writers and…”
“Yes, that could work.”
And let’s not forget that everyone loves a monkey!