Onwards and forwards is a phrase Janet would say to me when we were writing The Stranger In My Life. Not onwards and upwards, but onwards and forwards.
There is a modesty to the phrase, I think, that kept our ambition in check but nevertheless inspired us to keep moving, asking the questions, searching for the truth.
Over the years I’ve had quite a few people asking me to help them write their life story and a few have stayed with me even as I moved forward.
One individual paid me enough money so I didn’t have to worry whether the book sold 2,000 or two copies.
Another project was a mistake and cost me a lot of time and effort.
The third project was The Stranger In My Life.
As a freelance writer of many years, I hope I’ve learnt to sift the riveting stories from the mundane – although I’m not saying I get it right 100 per cent of the time by any means, but I have kept at it: onwards and forwards.
People tell you to ‘go with your gut’ or ‘trust your instincts’. And I do, most of the time.
The first of the three projects I mentioned at the beginning of this blog post paid well financially; a fact I knew before I took the project on.
With the second project, my gut reaction was to say ‘no’, but I ignored it – and I paid the price financially and professionally because of that.
With the third project my gut reaction was a resounding ‘yes’ – and the result was life changing.
I remember joking with Janet “Be prepared; the way The Stranger In My Life is panning out I may still be liaising with you 10 years down the line….”
Well, it’s 2019 and those 10 years are nearly up.
The book has sold steadily, the TV documentary has been made – and viewed. Janet and I do still talk, but we talk about what we’re doing with our lives now rather than looking back to the past: onwards and forwards.
Janet is studying for a degree; I’m working full time as an editor, while trying to pinpoint a future where I can make time for all those things I don’t have time to do at the moment.
But time is flexible. And we all know that ‘the task expands to fit the time allotted’, so I need to pick that task and fit it into my allotted time.
I need a new project.
Onwards and forwards…