It’s finished. All is written and done, and all that is left behind is a slight echo of typing, a sweet nothingness. November has been amazing. Busy, wonderful and awe-inspiring.
We left Spain with its strangely rainy skies and overpopulated coast and caught the train up through France, to visit Nice and Monaco. We ate a baguette with camembert overlooking the beach in Nice, and shared an over sized beer, shivering a little in the weak sun.
I wrote thousands of words over thousands of kilometres, in speeding trains, on rickety hostel computers, in cold train stations and on pretty park benches. There were late nights filled with writing, and always, no matter how far we had come in a day or how many countries we had passed, I knew I still would have to write somehow. And so the words came, because they had to.
The story twisted and changed with each new place, if the sun shone, the sun shone in my novel too. If there was wind twirling around me, there was wind around my characters too. I made them clutch at scarves whipped away from their necks and pull at stray hairs stuck in glossed lips.
The cold hit us when we arrived in beautiful, clean Switzerland (which deserves another post, big enough in which to convey my love for that wonderful country). We spent eleven happy autumn days there, dreaming of staying forever. We left through Liechtenstein, much to the confusion of the many train conductors who helped us. ‘But why do you want to go there?’ was a frequent question.
It turns out they were right, and the highlight of Liechtenstein was the ten metre stretch of crunchy leaves that we happened upon. We trained on through Austria, and Venice, and then up to Slovenia, a vastly underrated beautiful country. I wrote in an old prison in Ljubljana, maybe including a little too many symbolic trappings in my writing.
From Slovenia we travelled to Budapest, Hungary, and spent two days exploring the famous ruin bars of the city, and soaking in the amazing baths. We found a wonderful Christmas market and ate until we couldn’t anymore, and then just sat and watched the children ice skating beneath the millions of twinkling lights, hot steaming cups of mulled wine cradled in our hands.
And it was in Budapest that the glorious, long awaited day of November the 30th arrived. I wrote and wrote that morning, sitting on the rickety bed in our huge €8 room, pouring my entire heart into the story, giving my characters every emotion that I had. The intensity picked up and kept going, and I felt my heart racing as the word count jumped up, higher and higher, almost erratically.
Then, all of a sudden, it was done. The little word count on the bottom of the screen said Words: 50,003 of 50,003. I stared at it for a second, a deep flush of pride sweeping up from somewhere around my stomach. I had finished it.
When I was at primary school I was given an award for my writing. I was only nine, and the ‘story’ was just a few lines, but a few lines that I had poured my heart and soul into. I didn’t finish the story, and my teacher said as she was awarding it to me that I never finished my stories, and she wished that I would. I laughed it off like all of the other children, but that comment has stayed with me for the fifteen years since.
So when I saw the word count I paused, but only for a second. Because I wasn’t finished yet. And I realised something then which made me smile as I kept typing. I’ll never be finished. This is only the beginning.