I often talk about how writing a book requires a certain degree of trust and today I'm going to share with you how trusting myself to write the book I never really thought I'd write led me to where I am today.
It was the summer of 2014 and even though I'd been dreaming of one day writing a book I hadn't really done all that much about it. While I'd enjoyed writing the occasional freelance article, and had dabbled in writing for children in those years where all I seemed to be reading were picture books to my little ones, I kept putting off writing a novel until I just couldn't ignore the strong desire to write any longer.
For two years, I couldn't shake the feeling that I knew I was going to write a book, or that I wanted to write a book. The only problem was, I had no idea what it was I actually wanted to write. It was as if I was waiting for inspiration to drop out of the clouds along with a fully formed idea for a story. After having interviewed lots of authors for the podcast, I know now that things rarely happen this way. Sometimes, they do, but for me, all I had going for me was an intense pull to write something.
So one Saturday afternoon, I sat down and decided to start writing. That was it. I would write something, for the pure pleasure, for no other reason than to appease that desire to write. Years earlier, in my early twenties, I'd lived in Florence - this is where I met my husband, got my first full time job, learnt to ride a scooter, and had an all round fabulous time living la dolce vita. Because I'd always loved writing, during my time overseas I'd kept notes about what it was like to live life in a foreign country. The culture, customs, anecdotes about life. I'd written about 10,000 words and done nothing with them, but I had sent them to my mum for safe keeping.
That afternoon when I sat down to write, I called my mum and asked her if she'd kept the file (around 15 years had passed) and in true organised fashion, she sent it to me within the hour. Flicking through those pages, I was transported back to Italy, as I remembered lots of things that had left the forefront of my mind and become distant memories. As I relived what it was like to walk those cobblestone streets, or enter that bar for the first time conscious of my accent as I ordered a coffee, I realised I had the setting for my book. And that's when I created a fictional character by the name of Mia who was an an aspiring artist who had lost her motivation to paint after having spent time being treated for cancer. Only, while she'd been given a new lease on life with the news of remission, Mia was yet to fully come out the other side free of problems.
Like so many unexplainable things when it comes to the creative process, I don't quite know why I chose to look at what it might be like to deal with the aftermath of having gone through a traumatic event in one's life, but that's what I did.
I never set out to write a love story, though. That happened by complete accident. To my surprise, the ever so charming Luca appeared shortly after I finished writing the first chapter and made it very clear that he was meant to be there and wanted to stay.
I wrote the first draft of The Florentine Bridge over a period of six weeks. Weeks where I was totally consumed by the story and the characters. I didn't plan, I didn't plot, I just followed the pull and let the characters lead the way. I didn't question or censor or overanalyse. I just went with it, and here we are.
The Florentine Bridge was the first adult novel I ever wrote and will be published January 1st 2017 - almost three years to the day since I sat down to start writing it. And it didn't really start from an idea at all.
It started with the desire to write something, coupled with a tiny degree of trust.