I haven't written anything here for a while. Mostly because I've been busy writing (a new novel). I've also been consumed by fear.
First thing I have to talk about is one of the major sources of my trepidation: that Eur0 2020 final. England vs Italy scared me stiff. First of all, it's a perennial duel in my home country (50% are England supporters, the other half supports the Italians) and, secondly, I knew that England were going to bow out in typical ironic English fashion.
And I was right. The game had me on the edge of my seat, biting my fingernails to oblivion. The Italians don't like to lose, and if it takes a few dives here, a pull of a shirt there, a cynical tackle, some tactical fouls, and time-wasting, so be it. The English, on the other hand, are their own worst enemy. They could have crushed the Italians if they wanted to, but the moment they started playing defensively and refrained from capitalising on their attacking strength, I knew they would lose.
And the penalties? Two players who were expressly brought on from the bench to take them missed them. Yes, it was a typical ironic English blunder. And it doesn't reflect the commitment and dedication of those young players on the pitch — they deserved better, they were great, they were inspiring.
What the England fans did later as a result should not be a reflection of the England team whose members were professional sportsmen throughout. That's the other thing: the typical English gamesmanship usually backfires.
And that's what I was afraid of.
I was afraid that England would be hard done by. I was scared that honour and gamesmanship on the pitch would not be vindicated. I was afraid that a cynical Italian handball or foul or whatever else would cost England the game. I've seen it happen in the past — England usually have one or two players unfairly red-carded, someone on the opposing team scores with a godly hand, an England goal that should count doesn't count, and so on. I was hoping that, this year, the good England players who worked their hearts out would be honoured with a home win 55 years in the making.
In my 31 years of life, I've never seen the England international team reach a final. So my hopes were high. But they were ultimately dashed, stomped on, choked, and drowned. It was devastating.
Had they won, this would have been a vastly different post.
My other source of fear is my novel, White Light Pictures. After many drafts, it's now out there in the world (some of it), and it's being read, judged, dissected by the literary agents I sent it to. I'm scared that all my hard work and my love for the story and the characters would not be enough to land me an agent. I truly believe in White Light Pictures. I think it's a great YA novel but maybe it's not what the market is looking for right now. Maybe someone else's voice deserves to take priority. But everyone looks at life from their own unique perspective I suppose.
I'm from a country with little to no opportunity when it comes to publishing. To compound that, my social class background prevented me from so many opportunities as I was growing up. I had to work excessively hard to achieve my goals and I suffered from anxiety for so long as a result. And, heck, I didn't expect this to be quite as personal. But it is.
I guess what I'm trying to say is that I'm afraid of being overlooked. I'm afraid of fading into the background and I'm afraid that White Light Pictures won't get what it deserves. But this is why I'm ploughing on with a new novel. I'm doing it for my characters. The stories I'm telling matter to me and, I surmise, they would also matter to a lot of people.
England might have lost, but their story goes on. I might lose today, but I'm churning out stories like never before. I feel like I've never written so many words in such a short span of time, words that I'm proud of. And I suppose that's a win in itself.
So I keep on hoping that it will come home eventually.