This has been the first day of my ‘Give it up for One25’ challenge. I’m trying to give up ‘not being a writer’. I’m asking people to sponsor me to write at least 500 words every day from now for the next 125 days, to raise money for One25‘s amazing work with street sex workers in Bristol. This blog is the record of my journey.
At least in theory, giving up not doing something turns the negative of ‘giving up’ into a positive, so I’d love to be able tell you that I leapt out of bed at the first note of the dawn chorus, seized a pen and completed 500 words of epic prose before my first cup of coffee. It wasn’t like that at all. In fact, it’s now 8.46 pm, I’m a little shy of 150 words, and I’m already wondering how long to make myself sit here before I can reasonably justify putting the kettle on again.
So how did the first day go? To be honest, I spent most of it frying eggs. No, really I did. Oh, and cutting the ends off burnt sausages. Doesn’t sound like fertile ground for creativity I’ll admit. But every healthy plant needs a little manure … The fact is, I’ve been working in a local community café for most of the week and it wasn’t manure at all. Not in the negative sense anyway. There hasn’t been a single day when I’ve come home without a fresh idea for a story. At this moment my head feels a bit like my hall cupboard. There’s a treasure trove in that cupboard that includes a twenty-five-year-old bicycle with two flat tyres, an LP by Keef Hartley (the first record I ever bought, I’ll have you know), the hard drive from my old PC, a collection of empty wine bottles and enough pictures to cover the walls of my flat twice over. I’m sure I’ll find a use for it all one day.
But on the whole, I think I’m more likely to find a use for my higgledy-piggledy heap of ideas. The snapshots and snippets I’ve slung into corners and not quite forgotten. Let me have a quick rummage through the last couple of days. Here’s the man at the bus stop. Flame-red trousers and 1970s moustache. Surely he’s not doing anything so mundane as going to Tesco’s? There’s a glint from that amazing sunrise. A flash of yellow from the daffodils in the corner garden. Here’s that woman. So thin a breath of wind might carry her away. She’s telling me her former husband hospitalised her so often she’s lost count. Why would you stay with a man like that? Small wonder she’s necking cheap rosé at 11.30 in the morning. Now here’s Barry. He proposes to the manager every time he comes to the café. He’s had to make do with me this week though. She’s been on holiday. I’ve just found that incident with the hat … and the three policemen … and the man in the yard of the mosque … So many stories, so little paper.
I thought at first I’d struggle to find anything to write about. Instead it seems the problem’s too much choice. Will it be a novel? A short story collection? A string of blog posts? I still don’t know. I do know it’s going to be a memorable journey, and I hope it’s also going to be a life-changing one. Now, I wonder if writing 600 words today means I only need to do 400 tomorrow …