I don't want you to think I really swim a mile - or even half a mile - every day, as I did for a time when I was at school (well, every weekday, pretty much). I still enjoy swimming but my Olympic ambitions did not last long. I got as far as swimming for my (smallish) town, was beaten by the girl from Castleford, and that was pretty much it. Even if I'd had the talent, I don't think I'd ever have had the resolve and determination to do all that training day after day.
Like many others, I'm currently enjoying the Olympic Games and especially the swimming - marvelling at the performances, the dedication, the sportsmanship and the articulate interview responses of these inspirational youngsters.
My swimming ambitions fizzled out long ago but I do still have ambition of a kind, at least where my writing is concerned. In these last few weeks - a time of reflection following the sad and sudden death of my father - I've been trying to work out what ambition means, if anything, when you reach the age of 57. What exactly do I hope to achieve by all this writing I do every day? Is it really just a hobby, like going for an early morning swim or dabbling my feet (when I get the chance) in the sea? No, I think I'm fuelled by something more powerful than that - but what am I pointing myself towards?
I thought I was aiming to earn enough from my books (some hope?) to buy myself a little seaside retreat. But, as it turns out, my wonderful father, who never earned a high salary in his life but never spent much either and invested wisely, has left me enough to make this dream come true. So, all being well, I will have my seaside hideaway, which I hope to share with family and friends. But where does that leave my writing ambitions? Intact, I'm sure of that, but the question remains - why I am working so hard?
It's not for fame, I know that much. I'm old enough to know that fame is not what Rosalies like best (not this one, anyway). Not that I've ever experienced it, but you know what I mean. I hate attention, being stared at, having my photo taken, being expected to behave in certain ways and having things to live up to. Nor is it for money, since I'm also old enough to know that fortunes bring troubles of their own.
I suppose it all boils down to wanting to write the best books I can - and wanting people to read them. I think my deepest ambition is to go on being active, both mentally and physically, for as long as I possibly can. And never to stop trying something new, especially where my writing is concerned.
Alongside that is a wish to be part of something wonderful - something that involves inspiring young people both to read and write. When I hear youngsters enthusing over books - and when I see them having a go at writing for themselves - it makes me happier than just about anything else. Yes, of course it's extra special if they like my books and engage with my characters, but, leaving ego aside, to be part of the tradition (beautifully enacted in that Olympic opening ceremony) of writing for children and YA - is a wonderful privilege. So I guess my ambition has to be to try to find better ways to connect with my readers through my books, and maybe to get some children reading who might not otherwise have thought of it. And to try to support, as well as be supported by, other writers, teachers, librarians, publishers, etc, who are doing the same. Not very original, perhaps, but enough to keep me going for as many years as I have left!
So I will continue to write my daily mile, and try to keep up the swimming too.