Friday, 25 September 2015


When I was a little girl my mother used to take me to Woolworth's to buy toys. We had a decent amount of money and this was nothing unusual except that it was for me because I always headed straight for the stationery department.  No wonder she thought I was odd. I was one of four. The others were always outside as we lived in the middle of nowhere. I was always upstairs, just as I am now, in my office. It was never the bedroom, despite the pink furniture, I filled it with books and pens and papers and used my kidney shaped dressing table as a desk. It was the only bedroom on the back of the house and I could watch the sun going down. When I got older one of my friends would join me there, put down the sliding sash window and we would hang out there smoking full strength capstan which my rather kept. My parents never tried to stop us smoking and drinking, they had more important things to think about. They fed us royally, loved us, educated us and kept us safe.  It was a very good childhood which I did find rather difficult but writers always feel out of place and I was a writer before I was anything else.
I don't write letters much any more. Who does?  Email is swift and efficient but I could never get through a day before turning to a notebook and pen. It's my  Linus's blanket. Everything can go wrong but there is always writing.
I'm just starting another book. I spent three weeks waffling but now I have an idea and I'm doing lots of research about what kind of people were transported, what kind of quarries are there in Weardale and getting lost in the world of my own ideas. So much easier than the real world.
I do care very much about politics and what is going on but creative people have to slide away or they cannot work.  I love to go away to this place where I write even though it is hard and frustrating and lonely. I can't do with people around too much, I need a big space into which to write.
This is my favourite time of year. I love to start writing in the run up to Christmas when the nights are clear and the frost is white on the fields and the cold wind nips at my ankles and the dusk comes in at around four. It's bliss for me.  I am doing some research on W H Auden who spent a lot of time in Weardale. He hated warm weather and loved the howling gales in the this area and the relentless wind, rain, sleet and snow. Nice to think that he did. It's always my preference.
I'm going off to my caravan now, the best place to write. I have to make the best of it because it closes at the end of October but by then it's too cold to be comfortable up there and it's always something to look forward to when Easter arrives. I should be halfway through my novel by then and I'll be putting pen to paper every day, watching the half grown pheasants toddling around the caravans and the big black cattle stirring behind the caravan in the fields and bunnies bobbing up on the horizon before night settles in.