About six years ago I was sitting on the 7.38 train to London Bridge and I turned to John and said:
‘I’m going to write a blog. What do you think about the title ‘Can we live here?’
He nodded. And so this blog was born.
Back then I think I possibly harboured a tiny hope that maybe one day I might turn it into a book or find a way to monetise it somehow. I mean, people did that back then. Remember Belle du Jour? I wasn’t a call girl but I thought maybe there was some potential, not to become a call girl, but to write a blog.
I was clutching at straws you’ll remember back then, desperate to find a way to make money to help pay for our trip. Still, those straws ended up being life lines. And funnily enough I did follow in Belle du Jour’s footsteps. I do sell sex. Though only on the page. In fact, much to my parents’ embarrassment, I’m rather good at it (I even knocked E L James off the top spot for a time).
PROOF! (Mila Gray is my pen name).
I guess one thing you can say about me is that I never let that small thing called probability bother me. I never weigh odds (probably because I’m not very good at maths) or think: ‘well, the chances of that happening are zero so why bother?’
I always think ‘why not? If it can happen to other people, why not me?’ (eg. if E L James can become a billionaire after writing that misogynistic pile of rubbish then why the hell can’t I?) and that attitude is the same attitude that saw us quit our jobs, book tickets around the world and the same attitude that saw me write a novel, write nine more and then pen a couple of movies just because it looked like something fun and WAY more lucrative than books.
Why not? is such a great thing to ask. What is the worst that could happen after all? Generally speaking we’re talking two things: You could be rejected or you could die. Now let’s think about those two things.
I’ve been rejected plenty in my life. Firstly by a boy I really liked when I was 14. Then there was the time I was fired from my customer service job at Accenture for telling a secretary who was above me in the pecking order to unjam the printer her own damn self. I was also rejected by nine agents and eleven publishing houses -all of whom turned down Hunting Lila before it was picked up by Simon & Schuster. I don’t like to smile smugly and say ‘hah, betcha regret that one’ but… no, I am smiling smugly).
Rejection makes you stronger. It can also help steer you down a more helpful path. I met a much nicer boy in the end. Me in customer service… ahahahahahaha. Being fired from Accenture made me realise I never wanted to work for a bunch of wanker bankers or management consultants ever again and gave me the push I needed to start working in the voluntary sector.
I’ve come close to death too – thank you dengue mosquito and tuktuk drivers all over India. But look at all that has happened! It’s nothing short of miraculous. I have to pinch myself most days that it’s all real.
For a chance to WIN signed copies of both head over to my author website.
I’m on BBC Breakfast tomorrow so look out for me swearing on that (or rather, don’t), and will also be on Claudia Winkleman’s BBC Radio 2 Arts Show this coming week talking all about the book and our travels.
And if you’ve been with me since the beginning – those panicked, early days when I still worked in the voluntary sector and had no clue how I was going to make a living – then thank you for still being here, reading my story.
Oh, and if you are in London, I’m doing a signing and Q&A at Stanfords next Thursday, August 13th. Do come along and heckle or… just say hi. You can book tickets here.