Writing a book about my experiences was part of the healing process. It took me 28 years to finally find the peace of mind and clarity of mind to start writing an account of what happened to me in Afghanistan in 1985. What I hadn’t expected was how cathartic and beneficial the process of writing was. Finally my story had a beginning, a middle and an end.
Would I change it? People often ask if I had a second chance would I change what happened to me? I can honestly say no – even with all the heartache and tribulations I have battled with. We are the sum total of our experiences and it would be impossible to imagine not being the person I am now – a bit wiser, a bit calmer and a lot happier.
Revealing personal details makes me feel uneasy. But my feeling is that if you try to deal with a mental health issue like, in my case, PTSD, without getting into the nitty-gritty, you are wasting people’s time. It has to feel real for readers to understand what happened and hopefully, in some cases to benefit from seeing what happened to me.
I would love to publish a book with music that played in the background when you opened it. If I could, I would choose something like the first movement of Bruckner’s first symphony which ebbs and flows between moments of high emotional drama and then slow build-ups to the next peak.
I often think about where I am and where I’m not. At night, in bed, I often thank my lucky stars for just being at home; that I am not sleeping on gravel on a rough track in Kunar province in Afghanistan in range of Soviet gunners, or walking bleary-eyed through Dubai airport in the middle of the night or staying in the worst hotel in the world on the Iran-Iraq border.
The spirit in a garden. When you first plan a garden – plant trees and cut out beds – it’s just that – a collection of plants and shapes in the ground. But as it matures of over the years it takes on its own character and develops almost a spiritual dimension. The peace of an English garden has never seemed so precious in an increasingly noisy, stressful and online world.
It’s not always the sea that draws me but the boats. The sea can be a frightening and lonely place but sailing boats have always fascinated me. My first was a model yacht that I sailed in the paddling pool at North Berwick on the Firth of Forth in Scotland. Then there was a radio-controlled yacht on the gravel pit near my childhood home in the English Midlands and now I sail a cruising boat on the English south coast. I often sing to my boat when I am sailing solo, never tiring of its charms and of its power to turn wind into forward movement.
I’ve always had a dog and can’t imagine life without one. My wife sometimes says ‘we can’t have a dog, (or another dog) – our lives are too complicated.’ But actually once you have one, you find the solutions to caring for it through necessity. Our current dog, Justice, has never seen the inside of a boarding kennels and I can’t imagine him ever doing so.
I am trying to learn the blues on my guitar. On the internet nowadays there are hundreds of backings tracks for all sorts of music styles. Middle-aged rockers like me, dreaming of playing like JJ Cale, can sit at home with a backing band available at the click of a mouse. I’m getting there but it’s a long work in progress.
Banana cake is best kept simple. Why people add chocolate to banana cake beats me. It tastes so much better with no added ingredients.
Ed Gorman's debut, Death of a Translator, is out today from Arcadia Books