It’s raining outside and I am in bed with a battery of flu-like symptoms, surrounded by tissues, lozenges and several kinds of Benylin. Frances and David, whom I met for dinner and a performance by musician Steve Somers at the Mad Hatters last night, very kindly offered to whisk little Biff away on a 48 hour mini break to the Ile de Ré, which means that I don’t have to leave my bed at all today.
Lying beneath my Laura Ashley eiderdown I’ve been doing some thinking. Over the past month I’ve made a good start on book 3. It has a title, I’ve written the jacket and marketing blurb and I know exactly where it will start and finish. Each chapter is mapped out in an A4 lined notebook and already I have written 10,000 words (about a tenth of the book.)
It will be, I hope, a powerful and ultimately uplifting tale with some very positive messages that will resonate with many people.
The problem is this: one of the central characters in book 3 is my friend who is in hospital recovering from a terrible car accident. I can’t write the book without writing about (and more importantly, identifying) him, and while I don’t have a problem writing the story that preceded the accident, I don’t feel comfortable writing about the accident itself, the coma, or subsequent events.
To do so, would seem to me as if I am exploiting someone else’s terrible misfortune and invading their right to privacy at a time when they are very vulnerable. It seems morally wrong. The obvious solution is to seek permission from my friend, but it will be some time before I can do that.
On my last visit to see him, I found myself wondering if he will ever live anything close to his previous life again.
Although he is conscious and can recognise people, and although doctors now say, after some tests on his legs, that there is even a possibility he will walk again, it is hard to believe it at the moment as he remains motionless and does not say very much at all. It is as if he is in a state of shock and his recovery has reached a plateau.
On the positive side, it is only two months since he came out of the coma and yet already he appears to comprehend and speak two languages. There are also flashes of his old personality:
‘Ne faites pas gaffe!’ [Don’t mess it up!] he murmured as I fiddled with the iPod that I’d charged with his favourite songs.
The reality is that while I am grateful he is still in the world, he has a mountain to climb.
Bearing this in mind, I have made a decision. I will go ahead and write Tout 3 - even if I ultimately decide not to publish and it is only me that ever reads it.
I’m planning to have the manuscript finished by the end of February and, as the past three months have already shown - with prayers, thoughts, positive energy (whatever you wish to call it - you never know what might happen in that time.