Sometimes I get to the page and I just don’t want to open up.
I swallowed down a cherry pit before I was seven years old. Its roots grew quickly, deeply, wildly and entangled with everything I know about writing.
It happened the day I started to read The Children of Cherry Tree Farm. I remember it so clearly. My heart quickened as if I’d discovered a time machine. Here was a way to escape a ground floor flat stuffed with people, laundry and an ever present televison; an overgrown garden, devoid of flowers and scuffed with the dog’s scrappy circuit. It was then that this young reader knew that she wanted to write. I wanted to create another world, like this Cherry Tree Farm, where I wasn’t myself, and disappear into it.
Fantasy is the fruit of the cherry tree that grows inside of me. Its roots are entangled with everything I think I know about writing. The fantasy is that to write is to escape. But then I get to the page, and the cupboard is bare.
The fantasy is a lie. It is florid and it is beautiful. I walk past it many times a day and inhale the distant scent of its blossom. I take a nap under the soft pink of its branches. I dream of the daring, honest characters I will create and how they will break my readers’ hearts with empathy.
But this is not writing.
This is to dream of writing.
Right now I see myself in the reflection of my laptop. Claire as writer. I see the dark, delicate skin under her eyes, the pronounced line of her cupid’s bow. I don’t want to lie to her. I don’t want to tell her that to be good enough she has to hideaway in fantasy. I want to give her a place where she celebrates and scrutinises her life, with all her failings and disappointments. I want the words I write for her to be a guide rope along her journey of becoming.
The fantasy of writing is beautiful. By all means a take a nap under the cherry tree. The sun will warm your face and the dreams will relieve your limbs of the heavy weight you have been carrying for too long.
But when it comes to writing word by word, staring your reflection in the face? It’s time to wake up.