Writing was waiting for me.

Back in late 2021, I made a decision. As I lay there, aching and sore on the ward (yep, she’s giving it maximum drama, hold tight) looking at the person at the end of my bed who was giggling childishly behind a thin paper mask, pressing every button on the control panel to make me move up, down, forward and back - I decided, that’s enough. As soon as I’m better, I thought, I’m making some changes. I took a photo of that moment, of that person, so I wouldn’t forget this feeling of clarity and gumption when the IV was taken out and my mild painkiller haze wore off.

Photo by Alice Denny.
Image description: Grace is seen through a window in a cafe with lots of books, looking down at her laptop.

After a week or so on the sofa recovering, I went for coffee with a dear friend. We don’t see each other all that much, so when we do there’s always a lot of headlines to burn through. How’s her eldest daughter doing, health-wise? How are my parents settling into their new home? Is there a new gut health hack I should be aware of? What’s the latest on that company that wouldn’t pay up on an invoice? (sadly that last one often applies to both of us)

She asked how my relationship was going. I gave her all the latest updates/unloaded on how shitty the past year or so had been for both of us. How unhappy I was, how little I could do for him - she frowned as I spoke, and interjected, ‘so… why are you still together?’

I’d heard that question from many friends by that point, in many different wordings and intonations. It had reached the point where I felt like a failure every time I caught up with a close comrade over coffee and didn’t have the update that they were quietly waiting for. ‘It’ll happen eventually,’ I’d say. ‘We both know it… It’s just? Y’know?’ Well, to this day, I still don’t know. 

Anyway, for some reason, when this friend said it, this friend I hadn’t seen for a while and who hadn’t known all the ins and almost-outs of the situation for the past few months, it hit. I replied, ‘I don’t know.’ Then my mind went back to that scene; me, laid up, squirming in pain under a heavy blue blanket with a tube up my nose and a nappy scrunched under my ribcage, while he chuckled and joked at me and exhibited all the signs of someone who wasn’t equipped to deal with this kind of trauma, or provide care. Then my mind reached further behind that memory; back to a couple of nights before, when I was screaming into my pillow, crawling to the bathroom to puke and calling him before bothering my parents as it was 3am and he was a nocturnal being after all… then hearing him saying he couldn’t take me to hospital, mostly because he was high, but also did I forget that his car was dented and disintegrating at the bottom of his driveway, and definitely not fit for the road? Couldn’t I just take a paracetamol? 

Right then I affirmed the decision in my mind, over coffee with this friend. And what’s funny is - and the whole point of this horrid tale - before I’d even acted on it, just the making of the decision changed the game. And it got even better after. I started getting gifts everywhere I went - no, really. Every coffee shop I went into for a week, I got a freebie (and I didn’t even know/have a sweet romantic history with any of the baristas). A kind soul I didn’t even know that well who’d given me his fancy noise-cancelling headphones for my stay in hospital, told me I could keep them (RRP £170?!). A flirty former crush invited me to a party - a party where he would declare his love. I was offered a job; my first full-time, salaried job. A flat became available in a building round the corner - a building I'd coincidentally dubbed my 'dream house' just a few months before. So many fun little happenings and exciting opportunities were suddenly appearing to me, and eventually (after a week or so of bafflement) I realised the good fortune and happy accidents were in fact born from the change of heart and mind. I wondered aloud to my mama if it was because the universe was encouraging me; it had heard my thoughts and gone to extreme lengths to say yes, do that thing, look at all this positivity, join the dots!!! Mama then said it was because I’d finally brought myself up from the dark hole I was in, I’d lifted my head above the surface and seen how wonderful everything around me was, or could be. I’d opened up after a year of barricading myself in a miserable little broom cupboard. I hadn’t entertained the idea that I could have more - more, and better.

I’m 4 weeks into a course of writing workshops. It’s a mixed group, all ages and backgrounds and abilities, all lovely humans. I was brave and submitted my work for review in the first week (someone had to, and as I have more than half a book in my arsenal, it just made sense), and received such validating feedback, verbally and via email. I was amazed. Because this little project I’ve been quietly and slowly working on for the past couple of years has never felt like something I’d share - even though I want it to be published someday. I’ve already cast the Netflix adaptation, too. And yet the idea of people reading it when it’s in progress is scary, weird, and makes me feel incredibly vulnerable. I’m glad I shared it though, as it gave me a big buzz and the kick I needed to get going. And since starting these workshops, since signing up for more learning and creative juicing (?!), opportunities have flooded in. Exciting Emails (remember when everyone on bookish Twitter was obsessed with those?), journo ops, PR queries, event invites, oh my! I have a deadline for my book now, and a long-awaited literary agent lunch in the diary. She’s back! 

I pay attention to the good signs. I spoke with an Astrological Psychologist yesterday (yes, it’s a thing! And it’s pretty rad) about how I check in with myself and ponder when I find a string of positives forming as I move through my days - free coffees, fortuitous cancellations, creative opportunities and seemingly random acts of kindness - what do they mean? Where have they come from? Is there a particular pathway I chose to take recently that’s paying off already, or a person I’ve connected with who is bringing me something I’d been missing? Is my Venus in Gemini skipping about and singing? There’s almost always an explanation, if I search for it. So, this creative jolt in my life was a long time coming, but it waited for me. Writing waited for me. I just had to invest more energy in it. I believe in manifesting to an extent, sure, but I find consciously stepping up and making an effort works, too. 

With this in mind, please check out my Patreon - I’ve fired it back up a few years after my last attempt, and I’m going to stick with it this time. Currently it’s just writing/ramblings/watch-this-spaces, but soon it’ll be a thing of beauty. I want a community to grow! Let’s make that happen, together.

Photo by Alice Denny.
Image description: Grace smiling off to the side as she holds her laptop, inside the cafe.


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