Over the last few, strange, months I’ve realized more than ever how privileged I am to have a job that can be done alone, at a desk. Lockdown has been hard on creative energy, but it’s allowed me to get on with an editing project – the perfect occupation for long days.
I’ve had good news, too: I’m now represented by Annette Green, of Annette Green Authors’ Agency; and I was thrilled when my novel made the shortlist of 12 – out of over 1,000 entries – in the Mslexia Novel Competition. So there’s been plenty to celebrate. I’ve been grateful for the support and encouragement of my mentor, Liz Jensen, whom I worked with through the Gold Dust mentoring scheme.
You can be intrigued by my work here.
There’s one aspect of my old life that I do miss – working as a writer in school. Students’ energy and enthusiasm is always inspiring, and pushes me to think of my writing in new ways. So I was keen to read writer Kate Clanchy’s account, Some Kids I Taught and What They Taught Me. Unsurprisingly, I loved it. You’ll find my review on my blog. I was delighted to see that the book has been shortlisted for the Orwell Prize. The results will be announced in July.
I hope it won’t be long before I can be back in school again. In the meantime, unable to travel, we can read about people who do. I’ve been re-reading one of my favourite books: Nicholas Shakespeare’s biography of Bruce Chatwin. It’s stuffed full of great quotes, but this, from Thomas Keneally, seems apposite: ‘Economists think that economic indicators are the metaphor for humanity. Novelists think that stories are the true indicator of human existence.’
In our unpredictable, scary world, the creative act of writing, and the empathy it engenders, feels more necessary than ever.