Bathroom walls aren’t the place you’d normally associate with inspiration.
There are, however, exceptions to most rules. Like this piece of wisdom written over a mirror in a Beverly Hills women’s restroom:
You’re too good for him.
It may or may not be true, but it makes me laugh.
I’m happy to take my inspiration where I find it.
Yesterday I found it in the shower. I’m housesitting in Normandy again. After three years, I’m back with my old friend Dara the donkey and his friend Pepe the goat. I’m here mainly to write, so my inspiration radar is finely tuned. Staring vacantly out from under the stream of hot shower water, my gaze alighted on the plaque stuck to the bathroom wall:
Go confidently in the direction of your dreams. Live the life you’ve always imagined.
I’ve seen that plaque dozens of times. Thanks to the aforementioned radar, on this occasion it triggered a reverie that went back nine years to the end of my marriage. It took me to the present day, writing in rural France with a dream of being published.
My thoughts turned to the people who had helped me to make that transition.
Foremost among them – in terms of my writing life – are my teachers and cohort at RMIT, my writing group and my two accidental mentors.
Michael Webster, immediate past Chair of the Melbourne Writers Festival, Adjunct Professor at RMIT and Chair of the Small Press Network, has been a constant source of encouragement and advice over the past two years. Despite his lofty position in the Melbourne literary stratosphere – which he would deny – he has always made himself available to this bumptious broad who introduced herself at an industry event.
The second is Cath Crowley, teacher, YA author, winner of the Prime Minister’s Literary Award for YA fiction and fairy godmother. She sends me encouraging emails out of the blue whenever my self-belief is teetering on the edge. It’s hard to resist her confidence in my abilities, even when I’m at my lowest ebb.
Without these two people, I may have gone less confidently in the direction of my dreams. Or I may have gone in the opposite direction, towards obscurity or – worse – other people’s dreams.
I like to think I’m some kind of inspiration to my children.
They might think differently. But I have given them two pieces of advice throughout their lives and these you may have for free:
- Always take the stairs and 2. Don’t peak early.
The first keeps you fit, the second keeps you engaged with the world around you. Of course, there’s always the fear that the longed-for publishing deal (should it ever happen) will be my peak, and therefore the start of my slippery slope towards irrelevance. But I’d always choose being a Has Been over being a Never Was. And let’s face it – at my age I don’t have that many years of Has-Been-ism ahead of me. And there’s always the comeback second novel.
It’s hard to make a comeback when you haven’t been anywhere.
(actually, written in the dust on the back of a bus. Wickenburg, Arizona.)