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On writing

Right. I am by no means a writer, I write words that I hope people will enjoy and might resonate with the reader, some might switch off or some might read on and learn something.

From an early age I read. I read about girls with their horses in my horsey stage, imagining I was Jackie enjoying her ponies, I wanted to be George in The Famous Five because she was "spunky" and not as sensible as Anne, I devoured Jilly Cooper's books and thought how fun it would be if I was called Octavia and had friends like Pendle and Ace, I remember the goldfish in Lace, I remember reading Going Home by Danielle Steel whilst listening to the radio - now when I hear Hurry Home by Wavelength I recall lying on my bed at my grandparents' house crying my eyes out. I have cried, laughed, dreamed, hoped, wished, lost track, missed sleep and my train stop. I lived, breathed and was absorbed by books. I stayed in the car whilst on holiday in Guernsey as I wanted to finish a book, I was late for meals, I would fall in love with characters in books, learn about sleepy villages, real towns, throbbing cities (and other things). I possibly learnt about people's lives more from books than sitting in a class room. I have travelled to far flung places, gone back in time, yearned for an Aga, fallen in love and fallen out of bars, all without moving a muscle.

I appreciate some people don't read, I get it I really do. I can lie on a beach and miss sunsets whilst my family and friends are just lying there listening to music, interrupted by me laughing, or crying, or shouting at the book. I get sent books to review, get invited to book launches and parties, I attend literary festivals and think that will be me some time, one of these days I will finish my book and hope that the reader (or maybe readers) will think gosh I've been inspired or have been given hope.

This morning I read a blog on Book Connectors, a Facebook group, by an author about what she does all day when she's writing and free books. There's an assumption these days that people can get things for free just by asking which can be construed as flattery. I get sent books to review, I might respond to a tweet asking if anyone fancies reviewing something but I most certainly don't expect or demand. If I am sent a book I will read it and post a review, I have a big pile of books I know I must get round to reading and if you are waiting for a review then don't despair it is coming. I certainly don't expect to be sent something for free, after all there's no such thing as a free lunch.

I know from writing my blog or newspaper column that I need something to inspire me to write. Some time ago a friend sent me a text which prompted me to write a blog about Domestic Violence and Coercive Control which has helped a number of people realise that either their relationship or one they know is bad. I gave them the push they needed to pick up the phone. My best friend died in November and I am still feeling lost, so I wrote about grief which prompted friends to talk about it. I write about things that matter to me, that have affected or inspired me. I write from my heart.

You see to me, and countless other people, a book isn't just a book. It's more than words on a page. For some it is a lifeline, some people might be housebound and can't get involved in village life, some people might be incredibly shy and can never experience the life they read in books but they can be part of it without leaving their comfort blanket. For my own children reading has broadened their vocabulary and horizons, they've been inquisitive and asked what one word is or how to pronounce another word, or where this place is, or is this character a real person, we've talked about which characters could be people they know and whilst my bigger two aren't as bookish as they once were my youngest is book fiend and I will celebrate that for as long as I can.

In the pages of a book there's another world that's so far removed from your own. I've not got the time to solve a crime, fall in love, thwart a love rival, bake cakes or read my grandmother's diaries but thanks to the fantastically dedicated authors in our midst we can do this. They've worked hard to bring all of this to life and we should be grateful, we should show our appreciation by telling them and buying their books, whilst authors might be writers they're also real people. One of my greatest friends is an author, but she's also a person who I know spends hours researching, writing, editing, worrying and breathing a sigh of relief. She can't down sticks at a moment's notice because writing is her job, her bread and butter.

Books bring joy to countless people, they're discussed and chewed over, can change a person's life and can give hope and be a lifeline. Writers don't "just" write they inspire and give hope.


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