Towards the end of her Greenbelt Festival poetry reading Q and A with Sasha Dugdale in 2017, Rebecca Goss said something that may have changed my life.
A young member of the audience came up to the mic at the foot of the stage and asked: ‘What’s your advice if you want to be a writer?’ Without missing a beat Rebecca replied: ‘Read and write everything you can and stay off social media’.
I know this is what she said because as soon as I found some 4G (we were in a field) I quoted her on Twitter.
But while I knew in my heart she was right, I did not act on her words straight away. It has taken a lot of false starts, promptings from the example of my very wise children, and good old-fashioned self-exasperation to finally hear her.
As I have quoted on this blog many times in the past, I am talking about real influence here.
Were I to bump into any young person asking similar advice tomorrow, I know I would pass on exactly the same thing (making sure I credited Rebecca, of course).
It is still too early to quantify what the effects of my various decisions are on my thinking and being. One of them is how slow everything feels. Another is my sudden awareness of the precariousness of our planet. Yet another is that my fingers really hurt from practising the ukulele.
But I won’t know for sure until, as one of my wiser commenters puts it, I’ve been living with the changes for more than 30 days. ‘Perhaps you will find fulfilment in serving others?’ he says. Larger miracles have happened.
I am open.