On waiting, waiting.

It’s 8:40, and Dora and I have just seen one of the daughters onto the bus, and now we’re in the cricket field. There was a frost last night, the first, proper hard one of winter. The sky is an ethereal, faded blue, stitched with the tracks of far-above aeroplanes.  I swallow, trying to still the nerves swinging through my stomach, making me feel sick. I try to concentrate on the sound of my feet through the frozen grass. Swish-one, swish-two.

Today is the day I hear back from my agent, Judith, to see if the book I sent before Christmas will make it. No one’s read this one, and I don’t know if it’s worked, if the story has translated properly from my head.  But it doesn’t just have to work, it has to work better than anything I’ve ever written, and Judith has to fall in love with the people in it – enough to persuade commissioning editors to read it. The what-if’s and may-be’s are stacked like a Jenga tower in my head, and I gulp deep breaths of frigid air, trying to slow my heart-beat.

I watch the ground as I walk. I’m wearing S’s enormous green wellies and it’s like watching someone else’s feet. Each blade of grass is etched white along its edges, leaving a slender needle of green in the middle; S’s boots hardly dent them. The veins of the fallen oak leaves are sharply delineated; their complication stops me in my march, draws me closer. But not for long. The moment I’m still, my mind returns to the Jenga tower, my stomach lurches as the whole thing appears to sway.

I’m nearly out of time. My youngest daughter is in her last year of primary school, and I always promised that if I hadn’t sold a book by then, that I would  bow out gracefully, shuffle my priorities, be a better wife and mother and get back out there, hustle for some work. The thought of not writing, of not writing with the focus and intensity I do now, makes me feel hollow with desperation.

Dora jumps up on my thigh, making me realise I’ve stopped, and that I’m staring out sightlessly over Prickett’s field. ‘Sorry,’ I say. Dora watches me, and I bend to fuss her. I try to tell myself that my proportions are wrong, that I could be a Syrian refugee, or I could be ill, or my children ill. I live in a beautiful place, my family are happy and healthy; selling the book shouldn’t mean so much.  I walk on, lecturing myself on luck, and first-world whingeing, and all the hundreds of other writers that found other ways to work. It’s hardly life-and-death, it’s hardly vital.

I walk past the Pavilion, chalk-white in the morning sun.  I reach the gap in the fence that leads onto Lane Close, and home, and I pause. It’s too early for Judith to ring, too early to do anything but jobs of which  I’ll do half, before forgetting to finish, then starting something else. I turn away, and look back over the field. The sun is still low on the horizon; the oaks stand in its way, casting long shadows that are still silvered with frost. Beyond the field the valley sweeps away, then back up, to Spring Field with its hidden roe deer.  I can see the Warwick Road, with the cars of commuters driving to work. I could be one of them again. I could do it. I’ve done it before; writing with a job, two babies. It would be easier this time round, I wouldn’t have to type and rock a bouncer with my foot.

I give the field one last look, and I stand tall in the too-big wellies. Then I turn and walk home, to wait for Judith’s call.



Author: mrscarlielee

Mother. Writer. Wearer of frocks with wellies. Loves Dancing, Frivolity and Good Books. Tweet @MrsCarlieLee

5 thoughts on “On waiting, waiting.”

  1. Oh, Carlie, I do hope it’s good news. But even if it isn’t, you can’t give up – despite your promise to your daughter – at this stage, as you practically there (in fact, the good news might have come as I write).

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Oh Anne, thank you for cheering me on. It wasn’t great news (I didn’t hear until yesterday, in the end), but what doesn’t kill you makes you stronger, so I’m going to regroup, have a think. My husband’s told me to go for a big, long walk with lots of steep hills to march up!
      Thanks again, Anne, it really was lovely to hear from you xx


  2. ” It’s hardly life-and-death, it’s hardly vital.”
    I beg to differ.
    I know that anxious feeling and only those who have trodden this path will truly understand.
    Only you can decide if it is time to walk away, but if I was asked, I would say “stay the course”, but that’s me.
    I’ve published more than one book and we make ends meet (only just) but there is a fast approaching point at which I will have to decide — if sales of my books do not reach a certain point then the universe has given its verdict on my “talent”. In the end, people either fall in love with what you write — you find an audience, or you don’t. The jury is still out on me, but I suspect that the universe has a soft spot for you.
    And as for the quote, I lifted from your post — I suspect that, for a writer, being about to create is ‘life or death’.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Terry! I’m going to buy your books, right now (how have I missed them before?), and shout about you on Twitter. Thank you for writing back to me, and for being so generous – reading the support from everyone makes me feel so much less crap in the light of rubbish news.

      Anyway – rewrote the line.

      ‘It’s hardly life-and-death, it’s hardly vital: except to us. Terry and me, and anyone else who does what we do, mostly because we can’t not. Us not telling stories is like us not living.’

      Liked by 1 person

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