Wednesday, 9 April 2014

Lionel Shriver and the River of Life

This was taken at Loe Beach regatta last year, on a perfect day, from Echo. Nothing to do with this post,but I'm writing a piece on regattas which has made me desperate to get on the water again soon....

When an editor asks if you would like to interview Lionel Shriver there is only one response.

What I hadn't realised was that it would entail interviewing her this week - and in addition, having not just one but three lots of copy to turn in this week. Not part of the recovery plan, but also not the kind of thing to turn down. So I’ve been working, sleeping, walking a bit, resting, working, resting etc.

The interview with Lionel was yesterday, and after a slightly hesitant start, I so enjoyed it. She's a fascinating person with a razor sharp mind - and, of course, she's a brilliant writer. I found we have a lot in common - same age, no children, both have Raynaud’s Disease, both independent and determined, both buy clothes from car boots. She is of course a lot hugely successful but wrote a fascinating piece on Failure (thanks, Mr B for unearthing that one!) which is a much neglected topic in my opinion. I left there feeling WOW with my head buzzing.

Now I have to write it up and file copy soonest - only 600 words which is a nightmare as there's so much I'll have to leave out.I've also got to file two other sailing pieces - and just sent a walk in as well. OK it’s not part of the plan but it’s the right side of challenging, and now the antibiotics have left my system, I can at least think again which is a bonus.

Last week Mr B told me about Jerome K Jerome’s Three Men in a Boat, which he’s reading at the moment. In it, JKJ was talking about the river of life, and said something like, “Don’t think of the things we want in life, think of the things we can’t do without: a home, a dog or cat, someone to love and someone to be loved by, one or two good friends, a pipe and a drink for one is bound to get thirsty”.

At first I thought, yes what good advice. And then, as I thought about it one night, I decided that surely we should want to LIVE our lives, not merely exist. By which I mean that if we’re not happy, we SHOULD think of the things we want in life, for surely the whole point of us being here is to be happy?

I don’t mean aspiring to a way of life that is beyond our financial means, but having FUN. Even if it's making the time to go walking, a day out or an adventure. A sail! Maybe just sitting by the fire and reading. Of course it depends on the company, too. But I truly believe that if something is wrong in our lives - we’re not happy for whatever reason, we should do something about it - after all, we only get one shot at it. As a friend of mine (who is an ex-member of AA says), “there are no such things as victims. Only volunteers.”

I have what I call an Open Door policy, by which I mean if something is wrong in my life, I try and do whatever I can to change it. If I need more work I pitch to endless magazines or agents for my book. When I was in Devon and feeling really stuck, I applied for endless job interviews, accepted a random invitation to Cornwall and met my late husband. Friends of mine are trying desperately to move, and seeing endless houses. Finally they’ve found somewhere. Another friend who was unhappy in her relationship finished it after many years. She was on her own for ages, then met someone she’s very happy with.

I do believe that if you truly wish some aspect of your life to change, if you open as many doors as you can, then turn your back on the problem, something will happen (though maybe not what you quite envisaged). But you have to have done your best and really want that change, before things happen.

Lionel was talking about this yesterday. It’s so important in life to have a go - remember, it’s never too late. It it doesn’t work out, then at least you’ve tried, and you can have a go at something else. And in the words of the inimitable Jack Nicholson, you won’t spend the rest of your life thinking, “I should have asked her to dance…”

15 comments:

Sally said...

I am so with you on this positive philosophy of life. Open the doors, try something new and be glad that you did 'ask her to dance!'

So glad that you are doing so well and that you have so much work on the go! All good stuff.

See you soon, I hope
xx

Flowerpot said...

Thanks Sally - I have a feeling once I'v egot this piece in the bag I will crash! But at least I will do so knowing I;ve got the work done - and done well I hope! Maybe see you tomorrow? xx

Jane Jazz said...

Such an inspirational piece! Well done on getting this literary feather in your cap. Perhaps you're ready to tackle something that will leave you exhausted but wide awake now?
I think JKJ might have meant that we need the essentials safely in place before we can reach out for the extras, like paying the gas bill before buying the flowers? Not the most enriching way to live though, is it ;o)

Flowerpot said...

Jane - thanks for that! It was a fascinating talk and I was utterly shattered by the time I finished work last night - I ate and couldn't talk I was so tired. But better today. I agree about having the essentials in place first. But the extras are so important. They make life sing and make you want to get up in the morning.

Flowerpot said...

Jane - thanks for that! It was a fascinating talk and I was utterly shattered by the time I finished work last night - I ate and couldn't talk I was so tired. But better today. I agree about having the essentials in place first. But the extras are so important. They make life sing and make you want to get up in the morning.

Chris Stovell said...

That's a lovely post, Sue. Very uplifting. I'm also a great believer that you should make the most of every day ... I suspect that means we both take on a little bit too much at times! I have Raynaud's too - it looks as if I'm in good company! Best wishes for your continuing recovery. x

Flowerpot said...

Chris - good to meet another Raynaud's sufferer! though sorry for you and yes I guess perhaps we do take on too much sometimes. Better than not enough though! x

Rena George said...

Such a philosophical post, Sue, so full of inspirational and positive thoughts for the future. I can't wait to read that Lionel Shriver interview. I know that I, and others, are urging you to rest, (which you don't seem to be doing too much of) but a girl has to do what she has to do, and in your case at the moment, that means working. You obviously get a huge amount of satisfaction from it, so well done, you. I look forward to reading all those future articles. Rx

Flowerpot said...

Rena - thanks for that. Unfortunately I've only got 600 words for the Lionel piece so am having to leave so much out, but still. It will be online next Thursday Ibelieve... I do get a huge amount of joy from work. I am incredibly lucky x

Trubes said...

Glad to read that you are feeling so upbeat but do take care, it's still quite early days yet.
Congrats on the Lionel piece, you're doing so well,

love Di xx

Flowerpot said...

Trubes - am resting now that my deadlines are over, never fear!

Kim @ Him, Him Me said...

Sounds like you really enjoyed that piece of work and took a lot from it yourself. Hope you are feeling so much better and don't "crash" too much. Love the picture.

Flowerpot said...

Kim - well I had four pieces of work to get in but I did enjoy it. I am tired now but OK!

Akelamalu said...

Well you're obviously feeling better to be taking on so much, that's good!

Flowerpot said...

Ak - yes, progress is steady thanks! Though am still v tired ager that onslaught!