Wednesday, 9 November 2011

Not Squished Yet

A funny thing happened to me on Saturday morning. From about 8.30am the phone in Cornwall rang, and kept ringing with calls for me. The same morning I also picked up quite a lot of emails via my website address. And there were unexpected DMs on Twitter. When I got back to Bath and retrieved my mobile (which I'd accidentally left behind) I'd had a string of missed calls and texts.

All were wanting to know the same thing: are you OK?

Thank you everyone who knew I usually travel between Bath and Cornwall at the weekends and got in touch about the motorway crash last Friday evening. Yes, I was on the M5 that evening, it was very dark and foggy, and fireworks were going off, but I didn't see any smoke. I was ahead of the crash by a short time, and on the southbound, not the northbound, carriageway, so oblivious that anything had happened until the first call on Saturday.

But it has made me think about how transient life is, and how vulnerable we are. Carpe diem! Seize the day! If we don't do it now, then when? Goethe wrote: 'What ever you think you can do or believe you can do, begin it. Action has magic, grace, and power in it.'

It made me ask myself why I was pussy footing around with this current novel, which has been in the making for so long. And yes, I've got a lot of demands on my time, but not much of it is top priority and certainly not compared to getting this novel written.

On Saturday afternoon I had a twenty minute chunk of free time before we were supposed to be going out in the afternoon. The Saturday before I would have read the paper, but instead I decided to snatch even that little bit of writing time. The twenty minutes stretched to over an hour, and I got a decent amount of writing done. Yesterday I wrote more than I have done for ages, and I loved it.

I don't know why it takes a 34 car pile up to shake me into thinking about what I really want to do, but there it is: it has. I'm a writer. That's all there is to it.


wannabe a writer said...

Hi Sarah

Loved this post - back in the nineties I missed being at the centre of a bomb attack because my boss decided that at the last minute she didn't need me to work. She saved my life. So now I supposed the onus is on us all to make the best life we can and as you say stop "pussy footing around". Thanks for this, it's reminded me that time is precious.


Sarah Duncan said...

Linda, that must have been a scary terrifying. We waste so much time - and an awful lot of it on complaining how we don't have enough of it!

Eryl said...

So glad you've returned to writing.

I suppose we tend to plod along, reasonably content, neither happy nor unhappy, but in a sort of semi doze. And it takes something big to wake us up and make us realise we don't have infinite time to get round to the important things.

Sarah Duncan said...

I think semi doze just about sums it up Eryl.

Philip C James said...

Guess you've decided it's better to write than tweet. Bravo Zulu!

I felt something similar after last Friday night. I was ferrying the Aged Ps from Wales to London via the M4 at the same time as the accident on the M5 (and had experienced similar terrible rain, low visibility, wet carriageways and insane traffic densities, speeds and separations).

Carpe Diem, indeed (and what a superb Goethe quote; is it a favourite or one you researched for the piece?). I limited myself to one tweet today on the subject of Murdoch's appearance before the select committee and have tried to be more productive instead. It's hard but there's so much I've thought about my stories that I want to get down, and you never know when your time will run out.

Procrastination is what happens when one fears failure, but failure is the only possible outcome if you never try...

Sarah Duncan said...

Hi Phil, yes, trying v hard to limit twittering using a Swiss Army Egg Timer - tho have bad tendency to continue after it's gone off.

Road conditions were bad that night, glad you were OK too.

The Goethe quote is great, I've had it floating around for ages. It often gets combined with another one which actually isn't by Goethe about getting on with stuff. I like your quote about procrastination and failure which I might have to steal....

Philip C James said...

That's all right. I'll waive copyright on this occasion (tho' thinking about it, I probably nicked it from someone more famous anyway...)

Philip C James said...

Talking about Staircase Wit, I woke up this morning thinking about Swiss Army Egg Timers!

Somehow, I felt, THE THIRD MAN would never have been so memorable if the line had read "In Switzerland they had brotherly love - they had 500 years of democracy and peace, and what did that produce? The egg timer."

Sarah Duncan said...

I love my Swiss Army Egg Timer, it's got the logo and everything, just like the pen knife. And for me is much more useful - I mean, how many times do you need the gadget that gets stones out of hooves?