The Happiness Risk

“How’s the book going?”

It’s the question that seems to have defined me during the last 10 months. It’s the first question friends, family and acquaintances ask me when I bump into them on the street, answer the telephone or receive an email. Sometimes I wonder what they ever asked me before.

“Yeah, really good thanks!” is the automated response.

“How are you surviving?”

That’s always the second question.

It’s the more difficult of the two to answer because it changes daily, often by the minute.

Depending on my mood, I usually respond with some chirpy variation of “Yeah, just plugging away”. But the truth is, it’s been much harder than I thought. It’s been a slog.

There are days where my existence of getting up at 7am, swimming 2km, sitting down at my computer at 9am, writing with few breaks until 5pm, getting in my car and going to my part-time job at 6pm, working until midnight and then driving home to sleep, resembles such a lack of a life that I want to chuck in the towel. How on earth did Bryce Courtenay bang out best sellers every year for more than two decades?

On the surface it often seems that writing about my 30 Days for 30 Years adventure is not nearly as exciting as living it.

But when I think about it carefully, I realise it’s not, in fact, the case. Writing this book has brought with it endless firsts:

–      I get to go to work in sweat pants and without a skerrick of make-up on.

–      I get to share cups of tea with my father.

–      I get to be excited when the postman delivers large satchels addressed to “Australia’s Next Big Thing” containing page upon page of my manuscript, which has been dutifully scribbled on with red pen by friends offering words of brutal yet brilliant criticism alongside softer words of encourage.

–      I get to mirror the life of Charles Bukowski, the famous poet, novelist and short story writer, who worked at a post office to make ends meet while living the life of a struggled author. While his sojourn as a mail sorter also offered him a break from getting black-out drunk all the time, mine allows me to work with a group of people I would not otherwise have met. A group of people whose ethnicities are so broad ranging, I am motivated to write quicker just so I can get on a plane and visit their homelands and see them for myself.

–      And best of all, I get to relive every painstaking bit of my trip again, albeit in memories.

So, how IS the book going?

I have one final chapter to write – about my time in Israel – and I begin it today with excitement and mild trepidation that this phase of the journey is about to be over and the hard work of editing, refining and finding a publisher behinds.

If you head to your local newsagent this month, you will find the March edition of Women’s Health & Fitness Magazine featuring a story about my 30 Days for 30 Years adventure. It’s entitled Ready, Set, Risk, and features the stories of six individuals who have connected with their inner daredevil to do something different with their lives.

My part is appropriately dubbed “The Happiness Risk”.

The wonderful Pip Jarvis, who wrote the article, ponders this question:

Why do some people wonder ‘what would happen if…’ (and promptly book a flight to somewhere wild and exotic), while others sit in their comfort zones asking ‘but what if?’

Take a look:


  1. Nick says:

    Bryce Courtenay once told me one of the essential parts of his writing career was making sure he did it for 4-6 hours a day repetitively… you’re at least on the right track in that respect! Good luck with finishing the book.

  2. Erika says:

    That’s awesome, Christie! Nick is right – routine is everything in writing. Doesn’t matter how long your target is, if you meet it every day you set yourself up. Some days it flows, other days it doesn’t. But unless there’s words on the page you can’t tell what’s great and what isn’t. You’re doing an amazing job – almost there!