I continue to chip away at the first draft of my fantasy novel, City of Djinn. I’m so close to the end I can taste it. It tastes like turkish delight and hot coffee and sun-warmed figs. I should really have had it finished by now but, as usual, distractions pop up.
The first of these was a spur of the moment decision to have laser eye surgery to correct my short sight. The procedure itself was less disturbing than I’d expected. First they use lasers to cut a flap in each eye, then they lift the flap and use another laser to take off enough of the eye surface to correct your vision. Each individual zapping took around 20 seconds and was entirely pain-free. The most disturbing part was probably when the surgeon poked the flap to loosen it and my vision swam in and out of focus.
Sitting up from the surgery, my sight was blurry but already much better. For a few days afterwards my eyes were sore, dry and tired and the prospect of sitting in front of a computer was very unappealing. Now, four weeks later, things are pretty much back to normal. Except I have 20/10 vision (two better on the chart than 20/20). I still reach for my glasses every morning and try to take them off every evening. I wore glasses for 23 years, I guess it’ll take a while to get used to it.
Not long after my surgery everything was put on hold again for two weeks because of the Olympic Games taking place in my home city. I was lucky enough to get tickets to see a few things, including Usain Bolt win the 100m final.
The achievements of the athletes brought up parallels for me with the process of writing a novel. In both you work away for years with little or no external recognition, self-motivating and holding onto that spark of self belief, working every day to get a little better in the hopes of achieving a goal that looks unattainable from the start.
At the last Olympic Games, the British long distance runner Mo Farah, didn’t even qualify for the finals. The former Somalian refugee had never quite made the big time. In London he became only the sixth man in history to win the 5,000m and 10,000m gold medals. He was asked what was the secret of his success. His response,
It’s all hard work and grafting. It’s been a long journey grafting and grafting, but anything is possible.