Writing for my life / Fighting for my life


This is going to sound melodramatic (but hey, you know me, right?). I realised today that I’m currently fighting for my life.

I don’t have cancer, nor am I trapped in a nuclear bunker or anything (although I’m pictured in one above!) But these past few months I’ve been urgently writing a novel. I say urgently because it FEELS urgent at the moment. My motivation? This is my Eminem-style one-shot moment. OK – so again, I’m not struggling along on Eight-Mile, I live in Zurich, Switzerland, of all places! But, while I’m in this position where myself and my little family are stable, relatively happy and secure, we currently have no paid employment (although we have some income). We are trapped, even if quite pleasantly, in a situation where we can’t do anything major such as buying a house, or even moving to a different rented flat, nor plan a large overseas holiday such as a trip back to Australia. We don’t know what will happen in the next 12 months and everything’s in stasis. Well not entirely in stasis. Because, in some ways, I’m busier than ever.

I’ve talked about writing a novel for years. Who hasn’t? But this particular time is one of the few moments in my life I’ve actually had the space, and kinda the right headspace, to go for it. And I’ve been going for it like the clappers. I’ve pounded out 70,000+ words in about three months (part of it during November’s NaNoWriMo). A rough draft of the book is finished. I wouldn’t call it a “first draft” yet – that, to me, would imply something I could hand over to a few, very kind, first readers. This thing I’ve produced is a mess with notes and loose ends and chunks that will need to be completely trashed and possibly whole sections still to be written. And yet, IT IS DONE.

I haven’t made a big fuss about completing and I’ve been questioning myself as to why. I tell you, it’s because I’m fighting for my life and the battle is far from over. I’m about a year off turning 40. Therefore I’m looking down the barrel of another ~30 years of “career” after having completed a shade over 20 years of working up until now. I cannot think of anything I’d rather do – that I actually can do – than write for myself and get paid and maybe become a Rockstar poet. I’m waging my own personal war towards achieving both those things right now because if it doesn’t get happening in this short, sweet lull in my life, I honestly don’t think it ever will.

So there you go. I’m in a frenzy. I’m working hard but it’s all for my own ends. I’m doing what I love. I’m happy. I’m a ball of anxiety. I’m lonely. I’m content. I’m completing pieces of work and kicking goals like a mofo but I’ve barely even reached Base Camp on Everest at this stage. There is no time to stop and pop the Champers (Oh, OK maybe just a little…) Because I’m writing for my life. Please wish me luck.

I don’t usually say this – but if you enjoy my blog and poetry, please chuck me a like or a follow – I really appreciate it.  I’m also trying to wean myself off my horrible, sickeningly near-constant use of Facebook so if you wish to keep up with my exploits, this blog will be a good place to do so!

A couple of late-breaking links – right after I wrote this, I saw this article on How Your Novel Will Save The World and this wonderful Mary Oliver poem “Going Deeper”, which basically cover the same ground. You can only save yourself.


  1. Claire actually getting to basecamp is a huge achievement and should be celebrated. Many people never get there and never celebrate.With Laura Croft-like dexterity you’ve tumbled and turned, dodged bullets and black doubting dogs, to actually gain a toehold in your journey, sufficient enough to be designated basecamp. You have done this while juggling kids, husband, work, foreign country challenges and learning new languages. Take a breather, share a high five, luxuriate in the fruits of your actions and then, plough on to summit.

  2. This is awesome, congratulations! I’m looking for the end of a novel rough draft too and it’s always good to feel not alone in the trenches. I hope you can take a moment to enjoy the milestone before ploughing on with it. It’s coming up for 5pm here, I might crack a bottle in solidarity..

  3. Hi Claire, Congrats on your not-first-draft! I think you are a great and fun writer, exactly what the world needs. I have no doubt you will do well and have many people enjoy your book.

    If you like i could get you in touch with my Oz friend Nicole who has started writing and publishing her own books a few years ago and made that her full time job very quickly. There also seem a great writer community out there with plenty of inspiration and motivation to go around.

    Anyhow i am excited to read your draft, and soon will even have the time for it. I am starting a new job in two weeks with an US based NGO, but working from my sweet new home. While i’ll still run a big conference, i will also get involved with actual NGO work. I am super excited! And can’t wait to have a proper work-life balance back.

    Good luck & hugs for the boys


    Sent from my iPhone


  4. I’m proud of you Claire. That is so awesome that you have actually written a novel. It’s an amazing feat and your poetry is rocking too!
    Of course I want to read the book as soon as possible.
    Keep living your dream.
    Love you

  5. I’m both incredibly proud of you and bummed for me that you won’t be immer available for my perusal. I’ll just have to use email, blog, whatsapp and actual face-to-face contact (hmm that sure makes it seem like enough… food for thought in itself for me…?!)

    And just out of interest, it sounds exactly like what a first draft should be 😉 Friggin bonza, mate.

  6. Write on, sisterrrrr. Oh …and Base Camp, just Base Camp, is a real achievement.
    I’m sure a publishing deal is in your future if you continue to persevere.

      1. Me too. I’m so glad I get to read your blog and hear snippets of what’s going on with you and yours. X

  7. Congrats on your completed not-first-draft! Sorry to be cliche, but I do think being nearly 40 does have something to do with that urgency you are feeling to “complete” or “do” something… 😬 I started my website with the same urgency!!! But now I’m 40, so meh. (joking, I’m not meh!) 😉

    1. Totally agree! I think this whole “youth culture” thing is a giant con – the 20-somethings don’t rule the world, it’s the 40-s who are kicking it!!

  8. Wow Claire this is great news. Good on you for prioritising this dream. No small task with everything else you have going on. Loved your poems xx

  9. Thanks for capturing and sharing your state-of-mind and -life so well.
    I think I have a novel in me as well, but timing is just never right, it seems. No headspace, no time, other priorities… so congrats on getting something done, even if it’s pre-draft stage!

  10. You certainly have the gift of describing your current state with very descriptive (for my lack of better terms) words! I can literally feel your frenzy, and I think it’s a good thing, it’ll boost you to carry on! Good luck! ♥

Leave a Reply to Tamara Gerber Cancel reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s