So this is a post about still being here. Not In a depressing way, but in a grateful and optimistic way.
To clarify, I recently had a birthday - not a big one by the usual reckoning - but a birthday that neither my father nor my aunt made and therefore a birthday of resonant, superstitious significance.
From where I stand, I am now in extra time, a sweet bonus period that is full of desperate urgency. Extra time is never as long as a full game: it’s the bit at the end of a rugby game which is all about last chances, brave decisions, boldness justified by the proximity of the final whistle. Of course, it is also the bit that can change a game around, snatching victory from the jaws of defeat and vice versa. It is a place of madness, and of occasional great performances.
I am heartened by that thought. It’s too late now to play it safe or to play the long game. There’s little point in playing for territory: it’s the time for a heroic run, ball in hand, for the line. I’m encouraged by the fact that I may be in extra time but I still want to win. I want to write great books, better books, braver books. I don’t have the endless forever that I felt I had in my thirties, but I am still hungry to work and grateful for the chance to still be working. My ‘to write’ list is as long as my ‘to edit’ which is long enough to keep me going for a good few years. It is simultaneously daunting and invigorating.
We make so much about the young, about the debut, about the new and I want to shout from the rooftops. That's great, fair play, but don't forget us too. Listen to us, the older, those of us who have been around a bit who know what we are doing and are pulsing with energy that comes from knowing that time is short but there is still everything to play for! Watch out. We are still on the field and running.