On this very day last summer, my wife and I arrived in France to begin our extremely belated gap year. We touched down in Lyon, where my cousins were waiting to whisk us away to a picnic breakfast on the side of the highway, en route to their home in Bourgogne. Crémant, croissants et pain au chocolat: a wonderful way to mark the fact that we certainly were not in Kansas, anymore.
Looking back on my blog last fall, the one about “the well being dry,” it is extraordinary to think about how much has happened – how filled up I feel! Six country’s worth of new experiences, tastes, breathtaking scenery, breathtaking art, new friends, new thoughts. I didn’t write for seven months and no wonder! And while I got a bit testy about not writing by January and a lot testier by February, I can only think in retrospect how deeply important that cessation was: a discontinuance, an interruption not an ending. It was a time to take stock, to reboot, to re-imagine life and what it is I had to say about it. Finally, in March, at a beautiful house (with cannons in the rose garden!) over looking the harbor in Salcombe, Devon, I launched into a novel, of which I had written 36 pages the previous spring and not so much as looked at since. As of last week – last Wednesday, to be exact — a first readable draft of that novel is now complete. And it is a different novel than it could ever have been without the trip.
One thing I believe that happened on the road was that I lost something. Timidity. I stopped caring about the gatekeepers and critics and other worthies who have so much to say about what children’s writing should be or could be or used to be. How easily one hems oneself in, armed with their laudable commentaries and sincere lamentations.
And how delicious to escape!
by Tim Wynne-Jones