Writing Challenge Day #1

I’ve decided to write for an hour a day for the next 30 days and see where it takes me! Enjoy!

Yesterday I went to Brighton to meet some friends. I’d seen the city before, but not for a couple of years, so was happy to go back. The sumptuous unusual Pavilion and the fantastic sunset over the pebble beach are music to my Jane Austen slash Georgette Heyer-loving ears.

It’s November, and it’s Britain, so we didn’t paddle, but we got close enough to see that the waves were metre-high and to hear the backwash clinking back over the pebbles.

Now the word ‘backwash’ doesn’t normally have such pleasant connotations. I think, for example, of the remains of my dinner running into my glass of water with each sip.

Backwash, in the marine context, is that running back of the broken wave, pulled by something stronger than gravity, just as the next one breaks.





If you watch for long enough, you see that really the sea doesn’t go anywhere (ok, there are tides, and things wash up, but bear with me for now).

Two things seem to be happening. You see a little swell forming a few metres out. It gets larger. It can’t sustain itself, so it breaks down. The water foams as it hits the pebbles. Then it’s pulled back almost as if to constitute the next rising wave, which breaks just at the edge of the previous backwash.

(If you play it back on Boomerang this repeated pattern becomes even clearer!)

The water is pulled in different directions. It wants to move forward with each wave (and alright, technically it does, if the tide is coming in …), but it wants to move back at the same time. Yet it’s the same body of water. It can’t actually go forward since it’s simultaneously trying to go back, and vice versa. It doesn’t make progress (ok technically it does but bear with).

I constantly feel I am being pulled in different directions. Life is amazing, and there are so many interesting things, people, places and pursuits in it, right?! So many that it’s not obvious which pursuit we should go after, which people and in what sort of balance to spend our time with, and where to live or travel (if one is lucky enough to have the choice of course, and I try not to take that for granted).

But I’m only one person. I can’t do everything. Being pulled back and forth like the wave AND the backwash stops you from making inroads, becoming better, having or being more… Options must be narrowed down if anything worthwhile is to be made of any of this (the same way you don’t get an amazing, deep and fulfilling relationship by never committing 😉 ).

The world is so much our oyster that it really comes down to CHOICES made in pursuit of what we WANT.

And it’s famously difficult to know what one wants 😉

In my life, I would like to “be successful” and make an impact on people and be respected and known in my field, and for people to come to me for advice based on what I’ve done, and have the ability to travel and nice houses dotted across the globe, and it would be cool to have a hot tub and heated pool and a yacht …

But I would also like to read 19th-century novels and write fantasy fiction and period drama and produce music and dabble in academic philosophy.

Sometimes this feels like a wave-and-backwash dilemma. I see good in both paths and I can’t decide which is better. Better for my personal development and fulfilment as a human, and better for humanity (since I’d kinda like to help the world in some way as well). Or perhaps it’s that they are equally good and that I can’t decide. Or it’s that they are not equally good objectively, but that that doesn’t matter: one path is better FOR ME and it’s no use compromising my unique interests and ways to make myself happy just to give more to the world.

In the end, I think I’m optimistic that I can marry the two and have it all – not right now, but over the course of life.

My first attempt to marry the two is precisely this: I’ve decided to write for an hour every day for the next 30 days (at least!) and see where it takes me. Today’s writing has turned into what I think will be a blog post. But since my hour’s nearly up, I’ll have to explain the causes of my optimism another day. 🙂


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