Writing Is The Best Holiday - Alice Jolly

It has taken me a long time to figure out that I don't really like holidays. Perhaps it isn't surprising that I've only come to that view slowly. After all, we are all told continually that holidays are what people want. People dream of holidays and plan for them endlessly. To say that you don't really enjoy them seems rather like spitting in church.

But I don't. Or at least not family holidays. I would be fine on a beach on my own or travelling with a back pack and one friend. I did a lot of that when I was young and long to do more of it again. But that's not the kind of holiday I'm talking about. Family holidays are absolutely not like that. They involve an awful lot of stuff - and most of it is stuff that I am going to have to clear up.

I know that sounds churlish. I know really that I'm lucky to have lovely children, a husband, a home. And, of course, there will be a chorus of people saying, 'Oh make the most of it because it passes so quickly.' And doubtless when the children are grown up I will look back and wish I'd made more effort. But that's part of the nature of being human, isn't it? You tend not to know how happy you've been until the moment has passed.

I think it is also part of being a writer. Zadie Smith wrote a list of ten things you need to know about being a writer. Her first point was that, if you are a writer, then you are never going to be satisfied with anything. I was glad to read that. It made me feel better about my constant feeling that, whatever I'm doing, I should be doing something else.

In a few days the children will be back at school and I'll have some hours of peace and quiet. I'll be able to get on with my new book. I'll also be able to work on the endless novel-related research I need to do. I may even be about to get a commission to do a new play. Then I'll be thinking, 'Oh I've got too much writing to do, I can't cope, what I need is a holiday ....'

And so it goes round again. Or more or less. Except that I do love the writing. And those moments when you can be on your own, with door of your room shut, working on your book or your play, or even teaching. For me, those moments are the real holiday.


Mari Biella said…
Same here, Alice - sometimes I wonder if holidays don't entail more stress than they're worth! I suppose we're quite lucky in having something that is both work and holiday, and that we can incorporate it into our everyday lives.

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