When I was seven I made three promises to myself that I deemed VERY IMPORTANT:
- I would never change my surname
- I would never smoke
- I would be a writer when I grew up
My surname is unusual and I don’t even know the correct pronunciation. My first name was for a long time also not common at all, though in recent years it has annoyingly become a “trendy” name that shows up on those end-of-year “Most Popular Baby Names” lists. I was convinced that possibly being the only person in the whole wide world with my name was a VERY GOOD THING and wanted to stick with it. Plus even at seven I possessed the feminist-y belief that changing one’s name after marriage is unnecessary.
My beloved grandfather died of emphysema that year, and observing his swift and grim decline made me determined to never ever take up a habit that could cause that much misery.
If my first exposure to smoking had looked more like this, it may have been a different story.
Writing for a living seemed like an absolute given. I was a prolific story writer, rarely separated in my spare time from notebook or typewriter (it was the nineties but I just really like typewriters). There was nothing I enjoyed more, and not a single other career I could possibly contemplate.
Years later, stuff happened and over time I all but gave up writing as a hobby entirely. But the feeling that writing was for me and that no other profession really appealed never quite went away.
Some more years later, I still have my surname (I’m also unmarried, so there’s that). I have never smoked. So… yay. But instead of becoming a writer I have so far become a directionless arts grad with a dull temp admin job and a lack of savings. Not so yay.
Having recently reached one of those milestone birthdays that makes you sit up and wonder what the hell you’re doing with your life, I realised that optimistic, eternally daydreaming little girl would be pretty disappointed in her future self. She would accept with a knowing nod the lingering awkwardness, shyness and the tendency towards epic levels of procrastination. She would be beside herself with glee that her future self is living in London. But she would probably scowl furiously (with what my Nana would accurately have described as a “face like thunder”) at the bored woman sitting at a desk in a dreary office, counting down the days until each weekend and wonder why the hell she was letting herself die a little on the inside instead of pursuing her dream.
So with a resolve that would hopefully make that upbeat little dreamer proud, I have decided to attempt to get my act together and sort my bleedin’ life out. A little less procrastination, a little more action, as the Elvis song doesn’t go. There’s a lot to figure out, but starting with the writing part seems like a good idea. So here goes.