This is the year I’m supposed to take risks. I read it at Chinese New Year. I’m a rabbit living in the year of the pig. Apparently Rabbits don’t normally like risks. But the pig’s year is a safe year for it. That’s cool. Delph’s a pig. She’s the leader this year and we are all following her. I have no problem with this. I’d much rather follow her then take any risks.
I’ve also just spent the day being top quality, rabbit housewife. I’ve been sorting out boxes, hoovering, organising furniture and making food. Now, I’m walking Fin down the dusky bog walk lane. Our neighbourhood in Wales has been the hottest part of the country. Twenty degrees in February! A whole brigade of holidaymakers have been making their way to the seaside. I can hear them behind me now, throttling back to the Midlands.
I’m meant to be meeting Patrick next week. He wants me to start working again on my sailing book. He told me to stop thinking of myself as a writer and start thinking more like the lens of a camera.
‘Would Dickens have written by first explaining the history of something?’ he asked.
I winced. Cue – scrap the first chapter.
‘Exactly. Move your eye to the dramatic.’
Does dramatic mean hoovering under the couch? Or pairing up all the Barbie shoes? My brain currently is mush, dear reader. But with your help, I’m going dramatic.
‘Some of it,’ Patrick continued as we drank our flasks of writerly, too tight to buy it at the cafe, tea, ‘you don’t need to change. The stuff about the girls for example is good. You capture their spirit in their dialogue. And a lot of times, when I was reading your book, I was thinking I should probably put it down and call social services. I mean, you guys out there in the middle of the ocean? What were you thinking?’
I frowned. That was us, living the dream. I mean some people call it that. I think for us, Jack and I were just egging each other on. ‘And this is a good thing?’ I asked.
‘It’s not a good thing or a bad thing. What you do need to do is stop pretending that everything was cool. You have to let the situation be uncomfortable for the reader. Especially when you talk about your husband.’
Aha. ‘You mean when Jack threw a paper aeroplane at my face and told me I looked ugly – when I was schooling the girls for the first time?’
Patrick nodded enthusiastically. ‘I thought he was such a prick when he did that. But at the same time, I understood his frustrations completely. The only man on the boat, the only one who knew how to fix the boat and look after you guys sailing-wise. It must have been hard for him.’
Strangely, I felt myself brighten. ‘If you want that kind of conflict-based stuff, I can write it with my eyes closed.
Patrick sat back. ‘Then I’ll see you again in a couple of weeks.’