In my last post I said I would share some of the things that have helped me start writing again after a 12-month break, but first I really need to tell you about something that happened on my birthday.
Do you remember my blog post from 2016; ‘A famous novel that almost didn’t get written’? In the post I reveal how Sue Monk Kidd was inspired to finish writing her brilliant bestselling novel The Secret Life of Bees… because a bee landed on her shoulder.
It was the sign she needed.
I’ve always loved that story and ever since I’ve harboured a secret hope that one day I’d receive my own sign. Well, recently, I did. Only it wasn’t a bee, it was (I kid you not) a giant moth! (For those new to this blog, the novel I have been working on for what seems like a zillion years happens to be a fantasy adventure about a boy and a giant moth).
On the morning of my 49th birthday in September I woke to a strange sound. I couldn’t quite pinpoint what it was or where it was coming from but it sounded like something brushing or swooshing against something.
I sat up and looked around. The noise stopped. I laid down and it started again. Was it a mouse scrabbling under my bed? A rat nibbling at the bedposts? A pigeon batting its wings against the window pane?
Nope, turns out it was a huge moth – the biggest one I have ever seen in the UK! And it had moved from my bedroom to the bathroom, where it was ensconced on the bathroom mirror, as if admiring its reflection.
It was huge and very handsome. Its furry body and wings were a warm brown colour, like a teddy bear. Before writing my novel, I might have backed away in alarm but now I know better; moths are amazing creatures.
I smiled at my new friend and said hello. It flapped its wings impatiently as if to say, “Happy birthday and all that but could you please get me out of here!”
I caught the moth in a glass, released it from the bedroom window, and watched as it wooshed away from me over the garden. Then I realised… dammit, in all the excitement, I hadn’t taken a photo!
Leafing through my Butterflies and Moths guide, I thought it looked a bit like a Ruby Tiger moth (like the one in the photo above), though the guide says it’s “medium sized” and my moth was BIG (a freakishly giant one, just like Minnie in my novel).
Anyway, the fact is, a giant moth woke me on my birthday! After 12 bleak months, when I was plagued with the sickening thought that I would never finish my novel, it really does feel as though the moth was a sign.
Maybe one of the characters in my story should be a handsome, chestnut-brown moth in honour of the moth that woke me on my birthday to say, “Don’t give up. Keep writing!”?
[Next post: An exciting update about my greetings cards, and then I’ll re-focus on the five things that got me back into writing again.]