Sliding doors and ‘what if’ moments

Do you ever think about the opportunities you turned down? I’m not really one for regrets but I definitely ponder those Sliding Doors moments more as I get older.

About 5 years back, I was offered the opportunity to write a Doctor Who story featuring Bernice Summerfield. I’m a massive, massive fan, so this should have been a no-brainer. 

I said no.

I think about this a lot. A LOT. What was wrong with me? Why did I say no?

Firstly – and honestly – there was definitely a fear factor. What if I did a terrible job? What if I failed at writing for something I love so much? I might never come back from the kick in the confidence.

It was more than that, though. I’m not usually one to let fear stop me doing anything.

At the time, my first novel Beat The Rain had only recently been published and I was working on my second. 

Business was struggling at the time, I had two young children (and I was at home with them as primary carer). I was struggling to keep my head above water as it was. 

I knew if I took it on, it would be that thing too far. The focus and energy it would take to write it would have damaged the other areas of my life and might well have pushed me over the edge.

I don’t regret it per se because it was definitely right to say no at that time… but it doesn’t mean I don’t look back and wonder ‘what if’ and wish I’d been able to.

For most of us, writing is always a balancing act needing to be juggled with other life priorities.

Do you have any of your own ‘what if’ moments?

1 Comment

  • Chris Posted August 28, 2023 2:06 pm

    Yes, lots of moments: What if I’d said “yes” when that girl invited me to travel India with her in 2006? Would we have gone on to have a beautiful relationship that would have lead my life in a completely different direction? Would I be more fulfilled, surrounded with friendship? Would I already have a family? Would the bouts of loneliness and depression have plagued me as they have so often in the past decade? What of my current wife? Would she have found a happier existence with a husband more able to accept the challenges that her life path has lead us upon? Would he have been a better partner for her? Would she already have had children? And now – should I leave her? And if so: Have I wasted the best years of her life? A life she could have spent in happier company? Have I taken the best from her, sapped her, used her. Having done so, now; how can I leave her? Yet would she not still be better without me?

    Is perhaps every moment actually a sliding door? You could, now, stand up and leave. Get on a plane, go back home to Brighton, familiar, lovely, friend-filled Brighton. The door is sliding right now, as you read. Every moment is a choice made, either tacitly or consciously. Our lives ebb away as the doors slide. Sometimes, in conscious moments like these, we stare through them wondering: “What could be?”; and as we now grow old: “What could have been?”.

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