I promised I’d be chirpier about this whole writing lark when I returned after the holidays, so here goes. Actually it’s not too difficult to spot rays of hope when the white garden is bouncing sunbeams through my window. It’s just started snowing again, out of an utterly blue sky. Weird.
Last year sucked out all my confidence and by December I was beating myself up about lack of progress and false starts on novel three. Then suddenly, just when I was completely blocked, a new idea tumbled, a snowflake landing in my lap. Now I’m not sure what to do; if I’m going to use it I need to hurry.
In the run up to Christmas I went to a party on my own. Jess was at an office dinner and Zach with his mother. Normally the idea of standing in a screeching West End bar, exchanging plans for the festive season with strangers, is my idea of yawndom. But my friend is off to Australia for an extended stay, so it was a farewell party and I decided to do the right thing.
After exchanging pleasantries with the one or two I did know, my friend took me to meet a woman she said I'd like, and that was when the conversation went beyond, and-where-are-you-going-to-spend-Christmas?
Perhaps it was the Champagne or perhaps because my friend had introduced me as a psychologist, but she started to tell me stuff. How her boyfriend, who she had been with for about a year suddenly left her. That was more than six months ago. How he’d got involved in some quasi-political or educational group, attending their courses more and more frequently. How upset she had been that this organisation swayed him. How she was just starting to get over the guy. She questioned the psychology of someone who could just do that – just up and leave her and leave London at no notice. I was intrigued: there was a story in there and it was mine, mine, mine.
The details are a bit sketchy. I was on my third glass by the time she left and had several more before I started taxi hunting. But I didn't stop thinking about it all through Christmas; I wanted to know more.
We’ve discussed this sort of thing on Strictly Writing before: how far is it okay to plunder life for ideas? Other people’s lives? I could email my friend and get her number, but it might be rude to follow this up. For her, it might be one of those conversations you have in a bar and then regret. I wish I’d declared my interest as a writer and have been thinking about putting that right. And, before you start, Sam, I’ve already told the "squinty-eyed one" all about this. My girlfriend occasionally looks at Strictly.
I don’t want to let this story melt away.