‘You’re the family sandwich filling at the moment,’ says my dear fellow Choc Lit author, Linda Mitchelmore, ‘between the generation either side needing your help.’ To be fair, most of the time, all that’s required is a phone call, we’re not running around all over the place yet. Our surviving parents, by no means in their dotage, have the medical problems that come with age; aches, pains and the occasional referral which gives rise to concern. Our children are shaping their careers, settling down and even having children of their own.
It’s six years in April since I started writing Home Thoughts; pretty much unpublished, largely unread and free to let off a bit of playful steam. Lately, I’d begun to think this blog had run its course; family either side of me deserve a bit of privacy to get on with the nuts and bolts of their lives and months of grey skies, endless rain and constant cold have worn me down. Then a lovely reader left a very appreciative comment about Home Thoughts on another post which reminded me that one of the best things about writing is connecting with readers and encouraged me to renew my efforts here. Thank you, Chanpreet!
One of my aims this year has been to recapture the joy of writing. Achieving the dream of being published brings a fear of never being published again which is not exactly conducive to creativity! My head is full of future books and I’m enjoying writing Book Three, but I’d still like to overcome the inner critic who slows me down. I’ve recently reread Hilary Mantel’s Ten Rules for Writing Fiction (one of my favourite articles ever is her hilarious account of not winning prizes here) and finally got round to buying myself a copy of Becoming a Writer by Dorothea Brande. I can tell you that the ‘morning pages’ are hateful – absolutely the last thing I want to do the minute my eyes open is to reach for a pen and yet, and yet, I can feel something changing. I’m not sure I like the finger-wagging tone, either, but I’ll persevere. One writing book I do very much like though is Natalie Goldberg’s Writing Down the Bones. One sentence in the preface always stands out for me, ‘You tell the truth,’ she says, ‘and you depict it in detail’ – such a simple and straightforward reminder of what to do.
And finally …
In other news Move Over Darling is on the list of eligible books for the Wales Book of the Year. A couple of other writing friends are there too, including my fellow Choc Lit writer, Evonne Wareham and Honno author Juliet Greenwood. I’m not exactly holding my breath to be shortlisted, ah, but wouldn’t it be nice?
Painting is 'Rain Setting In, Pembrokeshire Coast' by Tom Tomos