Today I was feeling particularly happy as I wandered around town, and found myself counting my blessings. It occurred to me that I have everything I want in my life at the moment and I thanked my lucky stars. At the same time, I was thinking about the vast effort Dreamrunner needs at the moment, and that at times part of me just wants to lie on a beach, close my eyes, and forget all about writing it!
I got home, still feeling lucky and happy, and found a letter waiting for me – my first proper fan mail. It was sent to my publishers, who sent it on to me. It came from a French woman who’s suffering from bone cancer. Someone had left a copy of Breathing in Colour at the Mayo Clinic in the USA, and a nurse passed it onto her. I read her story of threatened amputation, losing her teeth and hair, nausea and morphine doses, using every last Euro for treatments… and I read about how Breathing in Colour had transported her to India, giving her some respite. I compared the woman’s life to my own and my eyes filled with tears.
This letter reminded me of why I write – to reach out to other people and, if at all possible, to help them in some small way, even if it’s only through providing a brief distraction from a darker reality. So even if writing a book sometimes feels like scaling a wall – when the plot isn’t fluid, or the structure seems to have gone all wobbly – you just have to push on with it. I know I’m nearly at the stage when I’ll be flying through Dreamrunner again, and if the finished novel helps just one person, one day, then all the effort will have been worth it.