Which is a bit of a ramble as I look back over the summer! 

There has been one  disappointment in that, one person hasn’t got  back to me after what seemed like a promising and liberating discussion. Otherwise, it has been a lovely productive summer, writing about texts & gender stereotypes in KS3&4 while producing some short stories with which I am pleased. One exciting find has been the DCI Ryan novels by LJ Ross and I’m amazed that she wrote these novels while on maternity leave and is now a full time writer with an infant to care for. What an inspiration! Her novels are well written, well edited( they are on Kindle) and surrounded with a pervasive sinister atmosphere. I’ll take one to work today, in case I get five minutes! 

 Diving back into writing wasn’t easy (one story took 25 revisions before I was happy with it), but it was made easier  by clearing a space and donating all my paperbacks to Oxfam. Fifteen boxes all told. I have four remaining boxes three of which are cookery books. Will I won’t I….? It remains to be seen. Anyway, by clearing out all these stories I effectively cleared a space for my own stories, in a room filled with collages and prints of my favourite places, and favourite colour.  One story was written in chunks of space over a fortnight, another in one sitting, others on sunday afternoons. And it is this I should like to hang on to when work resumes this week. 

Someone suggested I create my own ritual with this: light a candle, burn essential oils. My face cracked into a wide grin and  I was pleased  that this had confirmed what  I was already doing. Not that I think elaborate rituals are necessary for  writing, just that if I am surrounded by say, the smell of rosemary and sage  (oils which this lady suggested) as I write, then  I can train my brain into writing mode by using those oils. It is easier to access that creative space. And there is something quite lovely in the light of a flickering candle on my desk. Rosemary and sage are essential oils, she said, that aid clarity and thinking, and they have a clean tangy almost clinical smell, like pine. And bonus, the house smells lovely.

 Writing with the door closed and rewriting with it open as Stephen King says, also works. In this case I moved my desk under the window so that my back is to the door. This makes it easier to ignore interruptions, it makes the others think twice before interrupting and whether the door is open or closed it is clear I am working. The window is permanently ajar. No one likes a stuffy room, and I think of fresh air and ideas flowing together. Ive been lucky to turn this neglected room into my own space.

The holidays began and ended with thunderstorms. The intense, unremitting heat of July seems very far away now, as does the night when the lightning exploded overhead and the dogs barked and growled at the sky.The holidays began with us sleepy and heavy eyed and end in the same way. One of my favourite films refers to a September as a time for a gift of ‘bouquets of sharpened pencils’ . It is a time for new beginnings, a starting over, and it has been lovely to be out of the melting pot of ,curriculum changes, monitoring, tracking, mentoring, target setting, target revision, two-stars-and-a-wish-how-to-improve-data entry managed environment. And just as I dived into writing in July, I will dive into the pot today –  first dipping my toe to check the temperature. Not without a few sleepless nights over thelast two weeks.

Thank you for all the lovely comments and encouragement for the short stories, and bits and pieces. You can leave them here, you know , if you click on the comments tab. Mamie surprised a lot of people I know and surprised me by how many people liked the story. She was the one with 25 revisions, but popped into my head one day when I was hoovering. It isa blend of autobiography and fiction, and the Pan copy of Persuasion, still holds a special place in my heart: Hardly any heroines in literature are called Anne!

It has been the best break!

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