A taste of my own medicine
Robin Pascoe, one-time ExpatExpert, is one of my dearest friends and, over the 20 years or so of our relationship, we have settled into the roles of being each other’s cheerleader and coach. We’re both writers and authors and our lives appear to be on parallel paths, albeit a few years apart. Last week it was time for one of our regular catch ups. Robin goes for a walk at some ungodly hour of the morning in her part of the world, while I’m just switching off the computer for the day.
“So, how do you feel about your birthday coming up?” she asks with that trademark throaty chuckle in her voice.
“I hate it. Can’t bear to think about it,” I reply.
“I remember the year I was 59. I know, Jo. I know.” And she laughs again. “You are writing about it, right? By the way, you are writing, you know, for you?”
“Nothing? This was the year I wrote The Year I Took Piano Lessons, remember?”
“You must write about this, Jo. It’s what we do. When’s your birthday?”
“March.” I pause, feeling the enormity of the big looming number.
“Oh dear. A bit soon.” Now it’s Robin’s turn to pause. “How many days is it until you are 60? It must be about 60,”
I do a mental calculation. Feel sick and reply, “Guess so,”
"Write every day, half an hour. Set a timer. Write anything. A haiku, stream of consciousness, a story, a poem. Anything. Do this for you. It’s self-care. Okay?”
“Okay.” I can feel myself shrinking, curling up into a comma so that my body resembles that abominable 6 shape, with my head doing its best to hide from the truth.
“I’m your coach, remember? Promise?”
“Yes, Rob. I will. I promise.” Now it’s this writing mentor’s turn to feel the fear of the blank page. Not because I’m scared of writing. Not because I’m blocked. I’m simply terrified of telling the page that I will be 60 in just over 60 days because then it might actually be true.
And so, I left that call, opened a new document, typed the words Day 60 at the top and began. I tell you, half an hour is a very long time. Yet so many of my students wail that they don’t have time to write. I tell them that ten minutes is already a lot. My goodness I managed to write a lot in half an hour. It felt like an eternity. And it felt like an indulgence. I kept checking my timer. Were there really still ten minutes to go? And you know what, afterwards it felt SO GOOD. I had one of those “Where have you been all my life?” moments.
So here I am taking a large dose of my own medicine. I’m committing to writing every day. I’m doing it for me.
Jo Parfitt's Monthly Inspirer