I’ve had occasion to ponder what would have happened, if I had never decided to write Trapped. If I had never made the effort, gone the extra mile and stayed up countless nights crafting, editing and refining what I wanted to say, what difference would it have made? My muse is always whispering Go on, life is for taking a chance on Life. But I could easily – oh, so easily! – just have told that beguiling, soft, gentle, persistent voice to shut up and leave me alone, and what would have happened then?
No-one would have suspected that my sitting quietly and being good was growing more despairing by the minute. My immediate family would probably have borne the brunt of my frustration, and lost the chance to see a kinder, gentler person in that woman seated by the window. But, I would have felt my loss, and I would have said nothing about it and taken no action.
After all, as the world of realism will tell you, there are so many reasons why writing is not practical: it is anti-social; I also tend to work late at night when I should be sleeping; when I write, my body cramps up and I skimp on exercise; I use my life as writing fodder and there may come a time when my friends are loath to speak to me, in case their latest stories end up in my books; I cannot, if I am writing, and parenting etc, also go out and get a paying job.
But there are more subtle, urgent reasons which make writing essential. These include progress, learning what matters, awareness and empathy, connection with others, (some of whom may be feeling lost, alone and adrift in a world where expectations are complex and conflicting); the importance of personal power and responsibility: to understand oneself better and to learn what we are capable of. To feel joy that has its foundation in the decisions we take. To look back and say, ‘See what you can do, with just a pinch of courage!’ Writing and all that goes with it, has taught me about what matters, and has gifted me the confidence – at last! – to go looking for adventure in a spirit of optimism and determination.
I say that is a lot to gain.