I came to Ubud in Bali to write - that and escape the heat of my hometown.
And write I did--storming my way into the manuscript, in the zone, pleased with what was coming out through my fingertips. Then the house I was renting was burgled; computer, iPad, camera, all gone.
Sure I'd backed up --bless you iCloud. Sure, I'm insured. But that was not what made me pause (word used advisedly - stop more appropriate but I'm Scottish, so superstitious); it was the sense of violation.
Now Ubud is a good place to confront your fears so, off I went and did Qi Gong, Healing Sound Meditation, Poetry Night at Bar Luna, hung out in coffeshops and bars and went shopping -- there are more distractions here than you can poke a stick at. But I avoided anything with the word Tantric in the title --you'll never get me bending over backwards to please anyone, especially in Ubud where bending over backwards is the done thing. Literally.
All the posters for workshops with beautiful people in preposterous poses reminds me of a Glaswegian friend I had in the sixties, Sadie was her name. She was describing one man who thought himself a particularly cool dude. He taught spiritual tantric sex. He was trying to recruit her. She turned her back on him and said loud enough for him to hear...cue in a stunning blonde with a strong Glasgow accent ... "See him? He's so laid back he can lick his ain arse."
Right, the manuscript. I tried writing by hand - you know, pen, pencil, paper --remember? But something odd happened. Firstly I couldn't always read my own writing it has been so long since I've done a sustained piece of writing by hand.
But that was not the real revelation; in writing by hand the work changed. Majorly changed. Became more literary. Good writing, pleasing writing, just not what I'm being paid to do. Not what my contract says. Not what my readers expect from me. Not me at all at all. Or is it?
Deep within ourselves we wish to be better writers or else we'd never do it again. After the first book, we know what it takes. We know the hours of staring at a blank screen at the wall, we know the loneliness the fear, the back pain the stress.
For a woman it can be like giving birth in that the resulting child makes you forget the childbirth experience. Or is it some cunning evolutionary process that temporarily wipes out the memory of the pain?
And you do it again. Then again. Each time hoping that it will be better than the last --a better book, not a better child -- although that thought too can occasionally surface.
But this? These sentences, these paragraphs, flowing out in lovely ink on a French notebook? This stuff is more poetry than genre fiction. And poetry doesn't sell. And I need to earn my living. And the style, so different, doesn't fit the previous computer written part of the manuscript.
But it's writing. Perhaps it will become my secret writing. My personal literary porn. Whatever it is, it is writing. It leads to the Zen like thought that if I stop writing am I am no longer a writer? I like being a writer. I like being able to say I am a writer. A published author.
So I'm packing up the new computer and heading for the hills where hopefully there is no yoga, no Qi Gong, no Sound medicine other than birds and running water and no, no, no, tantric anything.
Aa' the best.