Watching the end of the American drama series, Brothers and Sisters made me reflect, (if you haven’t seen it, I can strongly advise you to box-set it asap. It’s got names who would have normally carried an entire series alone, but with B&S, as it’s known in our house, you’ve got a whole handful of them – Sally Field, Calista Flockhart, Rachel Griffiths, Rob Lowe all together, all in every episode). Anyway, I’m digressing, see that’s what happens when you indulge me... At the series finale, there’s a wedding scene for one of Nora Walker’s children. Nora is the matriarch, played by Sally Field, and I’m not telling which of her children’s wedding, so I don’t spoil it if you’ve not seen it yet. Nora looks at all her children, with their families, growing and changing as they have through the five seasons of the drama, and says: "Families, like life, have a way of changing—never staying the same. But they're your family—this eclectic, deeply-bonded group. So you evolve, you adapt. And now, as I look at my life and my new extended family, I think of this wonderful quote by George Eliot—It's never too late to be what you might have been."
Yes, it’s schmaltzy, yes it’s emotional, but in case you haven’t worked that out about me yet, I love schmaltzy, emotional, tears-running-down-both-cheeks-at-fiction. I think crying at fiction, reminds you you’re human, reminds you you’re capable of those emotions, because without sadness and melancholy, you wouldn’t have great joy and love. The song which accompanies this final scene is a very under-rated Elton John song, Mona Lisas and Mad Hatters.
If I had a pound every time someone said to me, they’d like to do something, but it’s too late because by the time they’ve finished, reached their goal, they’ll be 40, or 25, or whatever age they think is too old, I would be a rich man. It could be training to be a nurse, buying a house, going to university, having a child, getting a pet, whatever long term goal that person has.
My response is always the same: you’re going to be 40, or 25, or whatever, anyway, whether you start to do this thing you’ve always wanted, or not. So why not do it?
As I’ve got older (and my actual age is a bit of an ongoing joke with the UK Meet planning group, since I was ID’d at the bar in Brighton), I’ve noticed the years really do fly by so quickly. It’s April already and it feels like yesterday we were hosting for Christmas, roasting chestnuts on our fire (no, really, it’s not just a literary image, we do have a fire), opening presents, and now it’s spring. My friend D, went to university while I’d already started full time post uni work, and to me, it felt like one month he was starting at uni, and then next season he’d finished. His three years rushed by me just like that, as our lives had continued to grow and change in that way they do. When I asked him about uni, he said it was one of the best things he’d done, and agreed the three years had flown by. Because what I think people forget is that when you start on the path of one of these long term goals, life continues, it doesn’t just stop. You incorporate the new thing with your life, and before you know it, the new thing is over, it’s part of your life – you are a trained nurse, you are living in that house, you own that dog you dreamed about for so long. And then you can think about the next goal, because people, like families don’t ever stay the same, we evolve, change, grow through the years, and that’s what makes life interesting and challenging.
When I started to write Best Friends Perfect, I felt so much regret and real sadness I hadn’t done it years before, like I’d wasted my life, not writing up to that point. When I went to the UK Meet in 2012, I enjoyed it so much, I regretted not doing it years before. I vividly remembered meeting Clare London at a mutual friend’s wedding seven years before, as she explained she was an author, and I replied that I’d always wanted to write a book, and left it at that.
What I realise now, is I didn’t write it before, because I wasn’t ready, and the biggest regret would have been not to write it at all, because I felt it was already too late. So George Elliot’s quote really comforts me as I go through this next stage of writing: revisions and submission to get the darned thing published. (Because after all, that’s the point of writing, to share it with others isn’t it?) I just hope that a publisher sees something in the world I’ve created in Best Friends Perfect and wants to share it with readers as much as I do.
Later this month I’m appearing on Becky Black’s blog as a guest, so I hope you check out her blog and see me there.
Until next time