The Running Boy

IMG_3884Here is my boy. He works so hard at the moment I feel like I hardly see him and sometimes when he gets in I hand him a baby and just relish having my hip free for a few moments and forget to tell him how much I need him and actually just love him being around. He is my favorite grown up. (Favorites are hard to discuss when you have 3 little people too) Nights like tonight are the best – I cancelled a night out and just stayed home. Because we could all just be home. We watched a movie and although he was busy… he was there.

He’s busy because he’s waiting for his book to arrive. He has to email files here and there and send copies of things to people who have ordered e-versions on the crowdfunding website and sort bits and pieces out with Kindle… no, I have no idea really… but what I do know is that I am ridiculously proud of him. I’ve always known Joel is a wonderful writer. When I met him he had journals full of musings about his travels and poems and stories he collected along the way. He’s had a rich life – not financially rich – but he’s lived adventure, travel, exploratively and occasionally quite fearlessly. He can find rich description in anything and has this amazing ability to find treasure in what I see as fundamentally crappy. (I don’t always value this ability of course…not so much when we’re in the middle of nowhere on an ‘adventure walk’ with no snacks and no flask of tea and it looks like we’re lost forever….and he thinks it’s fun) His mum always thought he should be a writer. Joel never really understood this gift. It comes so naturally to him that he doesn’t even realise he can write in a way that other people just can’t.

So ‘The Running Boy’ almost exists as a real-printed-hold it in your hand-book. It arrives next week! It started on a camping trip 5 years ago. We had to sit quietly one evening because the children would not go to sleep; so in silence, and by lantern light I learnt to knit (I made 2 scarves, Holly lost hers that same year on bonfire night and Elijah wore his to school this morning) Joel started a novel. He’d been inspired when a mentor who edits a magazine challenged him on his writing topic, saying “Not many people write about the First World War” and so he started to research that era. He loves history. He studied the history around Whitby being bombed…an unlikely and unsual place to have been a target of the war and there the story snowballed for him as he imagined three friends Howie, Freddy and Polly and began to work out the lives they lived.

I never read the story as he was writing. I knew a bit about the characters as sometimes we discussed what they might do… but a few weeks ago Joel put the book onto his kindle for me and I hid from the children and read (I have to read it all in one go. My dyslexic brain can’t go back to a story half way through.) I loved it. Genuinely I was torn between just loving the story and trying to remember that my husband had made it up. This bit totally confused me. I believe a story when I read it. It does not make sense to me that Howie’s story has not been written by some presence that surrounded him and his friends in 1914. My husband wasn’t there in the war… he really wasn’t! But he knows so much about it and I believe that he must have been! Now I look back on all those museums we went to. I was not everso accomodating to his research. On a hot day on our holidays in France I wasn’t a really friendly wife when we drove half way across the country in a stuffy car just to look at a particular trench or a memorial. Then I didn’t choose to read any of the info in any of the museums because I was mardy knowing that he always reads every single thing… and then explains it all passionately to the children. I feel a bit bad now. One of our friends has just completed her Masters in History with her dissertation being the study of masculinity in WW1… she’s a great person to have on hand to check it out for errors and it seems his attention to detail has paid off. I think he’s really truly amazing and am just a bit in awe of his cleverness.

This lovely story is already available on Kindle (here). Plus, we’ve had the whole family involved in his first few sales… The kids were involved in creating some products to sell in order to crowd-fund the first print run… so Holly’s white chocolate, cranberry and pecan cookie bundle are selling well and she’s excited about cracking on with the baking.

So just 6 more sleeps until they arrive… and then I am uber excited about getting him to write a little essay in 3 of the copies to wrap up for 3 very special little poeple so they can be incredibly proud of their daddy too…




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