No matter how many times I ran away as a kid, my mother never noticed. I would come home in the evening, hungry, and she would be bringing in the washing from the line that ran the length of our back yard. I ran away two or three times a week, picking my hiding place carefully, waiting to see if anyone would come to find me. When no-one came I sulked all the way home, not telling anyone I’d run away. I never even mentioned it when we sat at the table for our evening meal. It felt safe. Dad would tell of his day at work and mum ask me about school and inquire as to whether there were any repairs necessary to my clothing. Which of course there was. I suppose my parents thought that the fields around our home were a safe place to roam, and there were only so many places one can run away to when living on an island.
Writing, in my old age, offers me the same kind of security when a child sitting at the dinner table. The fact is, life, all of it, flows through this instrument which is me, and is distilled through my keyboard onto the page, screen — however that happens.
I’m drawn to write, quite naturally, by the experiences I’ve lived. I’m still alive, kicking, loving, if somewhat creatively unbalanced. But I’ve learned some stuff on the way; I learned that you’re never safe when you’re in love.
Much is written in books about the structure of a story. Is it any more deliberate than the way life is structured? No matter how well you set the stone, some event will unsettle it. That is how my stories develop. It is the way my life developed. Everything is set in my mind when I begin a story, the writing flows through the structure, which I had gift wrapped and made ready, but is then torn to shreds in the writing.
I am distinctly disloyal to the idea originally conceived.
So, writing for me is a kind of running away and when I’m done, no-one is the wiser and no-one missed me, nor wanted to know where I’d been. What happens to me in these alone times is often unrealistic, but so is the writer. Writing seems to demand, on the one hand, that I protect myself, and on the other, be willing to go naked.
This morning I ran away.
Thank you for being here when I came home.