“A journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step” – Lao Tzu.
I was sitting on a ferry, in the muddy ocean between Macau and Hong Kong. Amongst the foreign chatter and smells of salt and rust I was thinking about family thousands of miles away. I sank back into my seat and composed a letter to them in my head, imagining the scene around me woven in amongst the details of the week.
I’ve never been much of a linear thinker. My imagination is a misbehaving child that likes to run down aisles and do cartwheels. It did not sit still on this occasion either. Soon enough the ferry seemed to dissolve around me and I was suddenly composing letters to an estranged mother character not my own. A mother who is difficult and wonderful all at once. Wild. Loving. Too Much. She, someplace else and the daughter, here in Asia, lost and troubled.
That was how ‘The Colour of Tea’ began.
A few weeks later, still thinking about the two women, I pondered writing it down. Just to see what happened. I felt a little shy about it, perhaps even embarrassed. But no-one had to see it. I loved to write, didn’t I? (Yeah, emails and a journal, my inner critic sneered.) And I needed a project? (That was true.) I wondered how it could be done. I was pretty worried about starting something I would never finish. I’d just resigned from my job after all; I didn’t want to become known as a “giver-upper”. My confidence needed me to stick to something, just to prove I could.
Okay, so what if I did it like people do exercise or meditation? What if I set myself a daily practice? Like, so many words a day, no big deal?
That was the start of it all. This journey, my journey, began with a thousand words a day.