Writing again…

In 2009 I returned to the UK after a notably intense operational tour of duty in Kosovo. Even though bullets were not flying past my ears, the 6 months I spent there made a lasting impression on me. Even two weeks into my time based in Pristina, I knew there was a book waiting to be written about the events I experienced that Autumn and Winter.

I was able to see a side to Kosovan life that few in uniform experienced.

Fast forward to 2015 and I realised that I needed to put pen to paper. After reading through lots of notes made in the weeks immediately after my return to the UK in February 2009, I started writing, cross referencing events and conversations with my diaries and notebooks which extensively covered my tour. I had written frequently and in detail.

Sitting in a small house in northern Portugal; where I first started writing this book.

Bringing these notes and my strong memories together into a memoir has taken a number of years to complete. And now I am on the final straight. I have been working on the book for the last 7 months, on and off. I am now finishing the final couple of chapters on the coast. Every time I have invested time in this project I have had to be by the sea. There is something reassuring about the motion and predictability of the tides and the waves. They are a powerful combination when you are looking for inspiration. This final retreat is no different.

The Norfolk coast is my destination of choice to write the final chapters.

It’s not easy for me writing something about a specific time in the past. I have to immerse myself fully in the events from ten years ago. Every day when I get started, I take myself back to a familiar place, interacting with people who have become great friends, as well as reliving exchanges with people I would rather not see again. Essentially, I am living in Kosovo once more, remembering the meetings, the conversations and the journeys into the unknown.

This time it has been especially hard to get back into that place, but I have arrived after 4 days of prevarication and dodging the real purpose of being here; the need to finish my book. I am a master of finding reasons to get distracted: going for long walks; drinking coffee in town; helping old ladies cross the road; these are all necessary preliminary activities on my journey to the act of writing. It’s takes a while for the creativity to come to the surface. It can be frustrating, but once I am there, it feels the most natural thing in the world.

And I am now where I need to be.

By Ade Clewlow MBE

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