In one year my life has gone from margarita to tea with a slice of lemon. Or ther other way around, it depends on how you look at it. A little more than a year ago I was sitting in front of the Ethiopian Minister of Economic Development and by the side of the Italian Minister of Development and Cooperation, translating what one said to the other. And they talked about Politics, millions of Euros, new policies.
During this year I have kept working as a development expert but have also taken up a new job as ghostwriter. If you don’t mind having to deal with egomaniacs who think that their book will be read by “every person who is or ever has been in love” (yes, I’m unbelievably quoting), this is a fun job. It allows you to work from home, the coffee shop, the supermarket or from wherever you hear something that might fit in the story. More importantly, it also allows you to write all the insane pile of rubbish that you enjoy reading at the hairdresser and feel guilty for.
If I hadn’t been faced with the need to find work, money and make something of my day I wouldn’t have had the chance to write pieces of art such as “and suddenly he felt a hand pulling his shoulder back, a bullet whistled so close to his ear that he heard the air caressing his cheek. The small hand, the burgundy-red nails that were still clenched on his leather jacket, had saved his life”. So yeah, I’m grateful. Moreso because I got to do it under some one else’s name.
How does it work? A guy with an idea (which he generally considers revolutionary due, in my opinion, to a lack of knowledge of literature, any literature) comes to you -through a website, it goes without saying- and asks you to write his book. If you do it for those who consider themselves Bollywood stars you tend to get screwed on the price, but the bright side is that they are generally happy with whatever you write as long as you keep a balance between romance, adventure, thriller, suspence, sex, music and poetry. A piece of cake.
Anyway, at the time I started this job Paul and I were living in a small house, on the first floor of a building which, back in the day must have had a gorgeous mango tree in front of it. Then we know how these things go… real estate prices rising, Bombay being among the most expensive markets in the world, blah blah blah and here we are: a brand new building flowered almost overnight in front of our (only) living room window. So yeah, a first floor flat in front of which, 1.5 metre from which, a new building is being built, is dark.
On top of that, our already small (and dark) living room had been decorared with a stripper pole which made it certainly interesting but also a bit akward. Therefore, Yey ghostwriting and even more yey if it meant getting out of the house!
Why do I write this? Because writing had always been my dream, not this kind of stuff, of course, but I’m (unfortunately) no Dumas, no Hugo, no Joyce, I wouldn’t have had the chance to write three books in a year.
This has been a year during which I very seldomly said no to things, when I got the first call, offering me to write the first book I took a deep breath and I said “yes”. And despite what, at times, I had to write I don’t regret it. This job, that came through only because I liberated myself from fear, little by little, shedding scales of insecurity as I moved on (poetic licence, forgive me…) allowed me to make enough money to live in India and move to Bali.
Last week I planted seven kidney beans in a pot, they grow slowly, but now I have the time to enjoy watching them grow. Was it worth putting my career on stanby for this? Some days I think it was, some others I think I’m mad, some others I look at the rice fields while I write and think I would not want to be anywhere else. The year during which I never said no brought with it unexpected opportunities, which are there for all of those who dare pick them.