After months of being embroiled in ‘the day job’, a lull in deadlines has allowed my thoughts to turn to writing fiction, something I haven’t done since The Banana Road was published back in May. Unfortunately, my creative writing doesn’t respond well to being switched off and on like a tap. If I spend long periods of time travel writing and producing copy for travel websites, my creativity deserts me, buried beneath a sea of mist like the sheep in the distant hills outside my window on misty mornings. I find myself sitting in front of a blank document, staring at the screen. And the longer that goes on, the more I convince myself that I can no longer write creatively at all.
Faced with a complete lack of inspiration, last week I decided to spend the last hour of each working day clearing the final box of files brought with us from Portugal, which has been sitting on the floor in the storeroom at the back of the house since we moved in. At least half the contents of the large box are used notebooks dating from our early years in Tenerife when, before the purchase of voice recorders, GPX or even access to a desktop, I filled copious pages with walking directions, descriptions of towns and hotels, and draft short stories waiting until it was my turn to use the only desktop we had between us.
Flicking through the books, I realised it was completely pointless dragging them from location to location and allowing them to take up space. Let’s be honest, I was never going to read or use them again. The walking directions were long-since out of date; the town and hotel descriptions had long ago been published and the short stories…well, I wasn’t so sure about those. I began to read a story I had written about a middle-aged woman who confronts the reality of her failed marriage, and I enjoyed reading it. In fact, it struck me that I wrote much more creatively back then, than I ever have since, and I tried to understand why that should be.
When Jack and I first left the UK and set up home in the north of Tenerife, we had no real idea how we were going to earn a living, plus it was several months before we had our furniture, including our desktop. After a failed venture into the newspaper publishing industry (a tale familiar to anyone who’s read The Banana Road), we decided to try our hands at writing short stories. Every day we would sit in the pagoda that looked out from the garden, over the rooftops of Puerto de la Cruz to the sparkling Atlantic beyond, and we would write. That’s when I wrote these stories. One weekend, we decided to enter a flash fiction competition. It was free to enter, and we thought it would give us an opportunity to see if our writing was any good or if we ought to think again about how to move forward on the income-generating front. To my amazement, I won. The prize money was only £50 but the affirmation was priceless. Despite that, neither of us managed to get a foothold in the fiction market and it wasn’t long before necessity and opportunity overtook our creative writing ambition and we found ourselves launching a career in travel writing.
All these years later, in a bid to kickstart my creativity, I have been transferring my scribbles to Word, editing as I go, and have decided to publish some of the stories on here. Most of them are around the 3000-word mark so they’re not quick reads but if anyone has a spare 10 minutes while they drink their morning coffee, and are so inclined, they might make for a short diversion from the daily routine. I’ve begun by publishing the first story I came across – Say it with Flowers – which features Hilary, a middle-aged florist who, when confronted with her ex-husband’s illness, finally has to come to terms with her failed marriage.
I will keep resurrecting my short stories until, fingers crossed, inspiration returns.