I love language, and I love the way it changes and grows. (I’m with Sarah Churchwell of The Guardian, completely.) So I was very excited to invent a new word in my studio this week.
I was writing the new cancer book. Well, actually, I was writing about what I want the new cancer book to be. The trick with writing is to know the difference between when you’re getting nowhere fast because writing is difficult sometimes, and when you’re getting nowhere fast because you’re writing the wrong thing. With the first scenario, all you can do is keep showing up, keep writing, and wait for the moment when you go, ‘Ahahahaha! Now it all makes sense!’ With the second, that’s the last thing you should do. As Emily says I once said, if you’re already barking up the wrong tree, barking louder isn’t going to help. (I don’t remember saying that at all, but if I did, I’m quite impressed with myself.)
Well, after a couple of weeks of writing the first chapter of the new book round and round in circles, I decided I was barking myself hoarse. So I sat down to do a bit of writing about what I wanted the new book to be. I didn’t do my usual think-write-think thing, I deliberately wrote without thinking, or editing, or correcting spellings. I wanted my brain to run away with me and my subconscious to have the chance to tell me what my conscious brain was missing.
Well, it worked. Within half an hour I had a couple of thousand words of gobbledygook containing a clear idea of the new book, where it’s going, the purpose of it, and what it’s going to cover.
I realised that what I had missed in the first version was the sense of all the little steps we take in order to get to the point where we are thriving again. Thriving is not a decision or a mood or something that happens after a certain period of time. Thriving is something that you move towards.
I expressed this in my stream-of-unconsciousness typing as: ‘It’s about getting from survival to thrival’.
Thrival! How’s that for a word that all of us dancing with cancer could use? C’mon. We’re already making Bah! our own…. I challenge you to slip the word ‘thrival’ into your conversations this week. It would be especially brilliant if you could use it on an oncologist. ‘How are you today?’ ‘Well, I feel as though I’m getting closer to thrival’.
(It occurred to me, too, that Thrival could be a place. I see it as a city on a hill, sprawling under blue sky, dragons keeping a weather eye on the citizens from the tops of ancient trees. I’d go there on holiday, like a shot.
Oh no, hold on, I live there.)