I’ve been travelling around southwest Ireland the past week, doing some advance work on my short fiction collection SaltWater, and spending time with my parents who live in Cork. A few of the stories are set in south west Ireland but many are set in other countries, too. Places I’ve lived and worked in, like Greece.
It’s been nice to catch up with my parents. Sadly they’re both slowing down, though my Dad has set himself the challenge of climbing Ireland’s highest mountain, Carrauntuohill. It’s rare to take up climbing in retirement, and my Mum tried to talk him out of it. Happily he’s undeterred athough he won’t be the fastest walker on the hill. He’s assessed the routes and made a map of the flattest path. He’s always loved maps, plans even the shortest journeys. Perhaps in reaction, I like to vanish somewhere faraway with zero advance plans, and no map at all. Anyway, I went up the first stretch with him but it misted over so he’s leaving it for next summer.
I once heard a writer compare the completion of a book with mountain climbing. There’s more than one route up most mountains, and it can take a number of false starts before you find the right path. Each attempt on the summit is like a writer’s draft of a book. Eventually, after much hard work, the mountain climber finds a route they can manage, and a writer completes the best possible version of their book.
Finishing books has been on my mind with work on SaltWater proceeding. I’ve been very fortunate to be supported in this by lots of good friends and writing colleagues. Thanks to their extraordinary combined generosity, 70% of the project budget has now been raised. At the time of writing there’s a couple of days left: time for one last push before the project closes.