I'm beginning to think that perhaps it is OK to look forwards again, that perhaps I can allow myself the luxury of planning for the future. I still have a way to go - one more round of chemotherapy, another few weeks of feeling really sick and drained, another ride on the CT scanner - but then it's over. No more treatment. No more hospital appointments. No more drugs. The end of so much, but the start of so much more.
I am one of the 20%. It's sickening to think that 80% of women with ovarian cancer don't make it. But I have. And I will. And I am so very, very lucky. I feel that I need to do something worthwhile. I don't want to waste the opportunity I've been given. I want to do everything I can to stay healthy, to remain a 20 percenter (yes, I made that word up but it does the job). I want to grab every bull I come across by the horns (not literally). But it is so very scary. I haven't even been out in public since September. Well, I've been to Hopscotch (my local café) but that's different. The biggest crowd I've been in has been the Oncology waiting room at Guy's Hospital. Can I even have a conversation that doesn't involve cancer symptoms? What will I say? What will I wear? Will my hair ever be long enough for me to stop looking like a convict? I feel rather scared.
But my biggest crisis of confidence is my new story. I've researched it. I've downloaded the trial version of Scrivener (not yet convinced but willing). I've cut out pictures. I've made notes. Have I started writing it? No, of course not. The characters aren't yet real, but they're forming. The place is almost there. Actually, it really is there; it's based on Wakehurst Place. The plot line is coming together. I even have something of a sub-plot. I think I've rinsed away the dregs of my last novel from my mind, leaving a sparkly, shiny space for the new one. Yet I faff, and I sigh, and I dream, and I plan. When will I make the leap from my head to the page? Do I wait for the characters to speak to me? I don't think I should. I think it's only by nudging them onto the page, reluctant and shy, that they really will take shape. Where I need to step gingerly into my new world, I think they need to do the same. My characters and me, we're not so different. We need to be brave, we need to be confident, but, above all, we just need to make a start.