It’s been a rough few days. No real reason, but the storm clouds seemed to descend and not really raise.
I couldn’t write (I think the stakes seemed too high), and I couldn’t really bring myself to do anything else, so I went with Baby for her weekly paddle in piss and when she clonked out for her cat-nap at a beach-front restaurant afterwards, I picked up my pen and just let it hover there over the page for a few moments.
Since Baby’s birth, I’ve always dreamed of writing a children’s story that would be hers. This is nothing new for authors (published or unpublished) – there’s a huge section of Joseph Anton, Salman Rushdie’s autobiography, devoted to the book he writes for his son. Perhaps it’s a compensation we feel for… something. There was always an amazing tradition of literature for children before JK Rowling made a fortune from the Wizard with the scar. Barrie’s lament at lost innocence Grimms’ repackaged adult evils; CS Lewis and his christian allegories; Tolkien and his apocalyptic tales; Pullman and his heretical master-stroke. Each raised the bar of literature, and the scope and depth of their worlds and their legends is perhaps unsurpassed. And yet despite their immense ambition, at their heart they are books for little ones, to teach and entertain and educate all at once. And your idiot Unpublished Author too has had an idea, or rather the most microscopic seed of an idea, for a while.
I’m not saying I’m a Lewis or a Tolkien or a Pullman. Not even a Rowling. But as I sat there and the waves lapped the shore, I told myself I would just see what the first page of such a book would look like. No pressure. No killing myself to continue. Just the first page and we’ll see what happens.
No sooner had I written the final word than Baby shocked herself to wake, eyed me suspiciously for a second and then burst into hysterical (and unnecessary) tears. I packed up my pen and notebook and dutifully fed her the salmon-steak I’d ordered on her behalf, now cold. I won’t continue today or tomorrow. This is clear. Not next week, perhaps not next year. But maybe one day I will read her this book, whatever it ends up looking like, and I’ll tell her how she waited just long enough to let me complete that first page.