Friday, April 4, 2008

Literary Nomad

Some spend a lifetime dreaming of the sacred trip to Mecca. My pilgrimage was to the original Grub Street in London, to kneel on its slummy sidewalk and pray to the God(s?) of writing.

Grub Street, today

When I decided to move to London last month I had few worries. My writing was about the only source of real anxiety. I pictured the tail of the plane’s fuel fumes and carbon emissions on the flight over and imagined each particle of my creativity vaporizing in that trail the whole way cross the Atlantic. I still felt rather safe as I stepped out into the bustling big city, yet I walked cautiously. Around any street corner some thug muse might mug me, snatching my whole handbag of writing ability.

Self-doubt can be a humbling spirit to an accomplished author, but as a young writer it is more of a menacing ghost. I love to write, I need to write and sometimes I’m even good at it. But consider it as a legitimate career? Only in my most bohemian dreams. I am the very hack who would have found a cozy home on Grub Street in the 18th century.

My concerns were somewhat practical. In Boston I was just beginning to establish myself as a freelance food writer, even had a base of editors and contacts I knew. Would I be able to do the same in London?

Finishing my prayers on the pavement, an omen appeared. A large, greasy man walked by eating a falafel out of a bright orange ‘Fish&Chips’ takeaway box. They eat here! In fact, people all over the world in all different countries eat. I bet some even read about it. Perhaps my future as a freelance writer isn't over.

That reassuring revelation taught me something important about my writing: I can do it anytime, anywhere. So, maybe I will.

. . . . even from a little London flat where I work out of my closet.

Sarah Leech-Black

F.Y.I. What once was Grub Street is now Milton Street and is right next to the Barbican Centre, London’s hub for arts and cultures.