Three Score Years and Ten

I was seventy last month. Quite a milestone in one’s life, so I have been analysing myself, to see how I have altered over this long, fascinating journey. Physically I have aged, although not too badly. I look okay, and lead a full, busy life. My mobility is not so good, thanks to arthritis, but I now have sedentary occupation, so it is not much of a problem. I am still bi-polar, still quite agoraphobic, but I have learned to live with these monsters and, thanks to modern medications, I am no longer ruled by them. What concerns me much more is how my personality has, and is becoming altered over the years.

I intend to grow old disgracefully having come to realise the futility of worrying about things that, to quote a favorite film, “Don’t amount to a hill of beans”. As a consequence, when I am faced with friends who are chewing on a bone that should have been left long ago, I lose my patience. I include unsolved problems in this list. Having set myself the task of doing not moaning, (not an easy path, but one I am finding rewarding so far) I am trying to educate my friends to do likewise. In the process I am becoming a crotchety old bag, and I am ashamed to say that I am actually rather enjoying it. Of course, my memory is also failing, so I don’t know if I have always been so harsh and unforgiving. I remember myself as a warm, approachable and affable person. I am probably deluding myself. It is just that over the past year I have had more rows and arguments than in the rest of my life put together. That in itself doesn’t alarm me. It is the narrowing of the threshold before I explode that I find worrying. (And I’m sure it often surprises the poor unfortunate at the sharp end of my tongue.) Age has brought with it a realisation that time is finite. Don’t get me wrong, death does not worry me. I have no fear of an absence of life, and no desire to live past my sell by date, and certainly not forever. Wasting this precious time is my fear. I no longer have the time to pussyfoot around. If someone does something I don’t like, I feel obliged to say so – often far too forcefully, otherwise I find myself constantly rewinding and reliving the issue.

I have always talked too much, but I like to think I have also listened a great deal. Am I losing the ability to listen so attentively, or is my sense of tolerance becoming finer tuned? I really don’t want to spend time on the same old problems, the same old moans, the same old tales of woe, especially, even if they’re mine. Whereas in the past, no matter how many times a problem has been aired, I would have tried to sympathise with my friends, and explored all possible solutions. I can’t be bothered now. Once, or twice, maybe three times, is enough. I literally haven’t got the time to give the same old rubbish advice and to churn out the same old platitudes. I want to, and often do, scream, “For God’s sake get a grip. Do something about it, but stop regurgitating the same old same old.” If that makes me a cow, or if I have said something similar to you, I apologise.

However, I think this is me. It is unlikely that I will be reverting to a more patient creature. In all likelihood I will get worse. I don’t intent to change. I don’t think I can, nor do I want to. Don’t get me wrong, there are already so many flaws in my character, faults that I willing own up to, and I would dearly love to eradicate. This new straight talking, no suffering of fools gladly attitude is, however, not one.

How much time have I saved as yet through my bluntness? None. But I live in hope. I refuse to dwell on the same old issues. I am having a mental clear out and suggest you do the same. I may end up as a miserable, lonely old woman. Who knows. But, if you don’t want this to happen to me, take heed. Bring me new problems. Tell me fresh horrors. I am all ears. Only please, if you have been plagued by the same dilemma for more than a decade, treat it like old clothes. Bin it.

A good book is a great friend.

Aside

“A good novel tells us the truth about its hero; but a bad novel tells us the truth about its author.” G.K. Chesterton

Reworking a novel is a long, hard process – at times tedious , but always surprisingly illuminating and educational. At present I am enmeshed in reworking my next book and it has come as a rather nasty shock to discover, on thinking I had very nearly finished, to find how much longer my journey is going to be. Although I have lived with my characters long enough to know them intimately, have I portrayed them well enough to convince  my readers that they are real? Am I guilty of leaving my protagonist, Rose, behind instead of always having her at the forefront of the narrative, driving the plot forward even when she herself is floundering? What on earth induced me to write Part 1 in the past tense and then moved to the present tense for Part 11?  I had thought I was employing a clever literary device, one I thought would be effective, when in fact I was indulging in pretentious posturing. Next, I decided the fulcrum of the book should occur earlier in the plot-line, altering the main emphasis. This has exposed a great deal of erroneous waffle, which is a good thing, but necessitates a great deal of re-writing. At times writing is like competing in a panel game – one must tell a story with some 360 pages, without hesitation, repetition, or deviation. The responsibility of relaying Rose’s story comprehensively is hard enough – the desire to create a readable, and hopefully enjoyable, book in the process makes it an irresistible challenge .

Now, don’t get me wrong. I am not delusional. I know I am never going to be a great literary author. But I do try to write to the best of my ability. I love telling a story, creating convincing characters who can lead the reader into a believable world that exists only between the pages of my book. I remember a tutor in my distant past, telling me that when we paint we are God: totally responsible for what we create – be it genius or rubbish, but to remember that with this exhilarating  freedom comes great responsibility. In other words – we will be judged on our work. When I read my first bad review I was mortified, I took it deeply personally.It was like someone calling my baby ‘ugly’ and deformed. I immediately assumed they were right, that they knew more than me.  Then I grew more phlegmatic. I looked for the validity in all the comments I received and tried to turn all criticism into a positive experience.  Then I discovered a wonderful quote:

“Books are like mirrors: if a fool looks in, you cannot expect a genius to look out.” J.K. Rowling said that.

So here I am, juggling with 90,000 words – trying to decide which to retain, which to eject; Can I really bear to cut pages of descriptive prose – which I really like – because the narrative needs action, dialogue, plot development? Should I put that comma in or take it out? Would Rose really do that? Think that? Say that? Why is it so wrong to repeat myself when I do so want to stress the point? Besides, Homer does it all the time. The fact is, I don’t know. So I give thanks for editors who do. I give thanks for a world where even an ignorant idiot like me can write a book. And I give thanks for all those wonderful people who will read it and hopefully tell me what they think of it. I hope that you are one of them and that for the short time you spend between the pages of my books you are able to suspend reality, to emerge having experienced a different reality and having discovered a new, great friend.

 

 

 

BOOK NOW FOR CHRISTMAS

 

AVAILABLE ON AMAZON NOW

Pebbles on a Beach 69 AVAILABLE ON AMAZON NOW

Well, here we go again, herded along willy nilly, in the crazy stampede towards Christmas. Or are we? IT IS NOT COMPULSORY. This year I am standing still, while remaining calm. Christmas is, after all, just a long weekend – with a few more people to cater for. I have already ordered the food – to be delivered in due course. My cards are designed and printed. Writing them is a long process, as I choose to send lots, but  each name I write brings a horde of memories and so what might seem a tedious, arduous task becomes an enjoyable, nostalgic experience. Right now I am concentrating on presents, compiling lists – what to buy for the various members of the family and friends. Each year I try to buy less. No one I know needs anything and as most of us have reached an age when we actually don’t want anymore ‘things’, I prefer to invest in a new memory.Visits to the theatre, train trips, meals out are wonderful gifts – but they do not come cheap.
Books, however make perfect presents.

As a writer I feel compelled to encourage the giving of books as the ideal gift. All ages can be accommodated, they look beautiful, they are not expensive – in fact many are remarkably cheap – and they are a doddle to wrap. I can still remember books I read as a child, so many characters remain vivid, etched in my imagination, and I still treasure the adventures they took me on. How many presents can you recall from last year, let alone decades ago? In short Books are Bargains.

Have you ever really thought how much effort actually goes into writing a book? (90,000 words, more or less, arranged into near perfect order, to make sense, convey ideas and give pleasure.) Most novels take at least a year to write. A further 6 months to edit and proof read. An appropriate, appealing cover has to be designed, the blurb must be composed for the back cover (a horribly difficult task) -only then is the book ready to publish and print.
And that, my friends, is just the beginning. Marketing is a dark art, requiring devious talents and hard nosed determination. I am rubbish at marketing! So … this is my Christmas plea. Help me and my fellow writers. Buy books as gifts this Christmas. Ask for books from Santa. And why not plump for my latest book – PEBBLES ON A BEACH? It will bring hours of pleasure, thoughtful reflection, plus the warm glow of shared, sometimes long forgotten, emotions. Simply click onto Amazon and you have it – £8.85 paperback or 83p Kindle! – what’s more you’ll make an author a very happy Christmas bunny – or should that be elf?

Remember – A GOOD BOOK IS A GREAT FRIEND Pebbles on a Beach 69

GIVE A FRIEND A BOOK THIS CHRISTMAS.

kindle publishing

Firstly, I apologise to anyone who has bought Pebbles on a Beach in Kindle form. This was my first attempt at publishing an e-book on my own. Not easy!. I had no idea the layout would shift around in such a haphazard manner. The end result is nothing like the MS I submitted. Formatting is very specific, a slow painstaking process. The messy original must have made reading  a very frustrating, unpleasant experience. But…it is now reformatted. I hope you agree it looks much better and is therefore an easier read. ( If you bought the original I will happily replace it, for free, with the latest edition – if I can find out how to do that. I know Kindle have a free offer system which might be the easiest way. But as it was only 99p maybe you will forgive me and invest in a new version! If not please contact me and I will make amends. )  PS. It is also hyper-linked now, so that you can navigate the text more easily. (Another steep learning curve.)

Just to remind you all that Richard Marshall’s book – HANNAVILLE – is available on Amazon at £10.99. It is a very funny, clever and pageturning book which tells the tale of the life of a dandy dentist in small town America. I loved it…It will soon be available as a Kindle so watch this space.

I am busy writing my fourth novel – the working title was Rose Remembered, but I may be changing it to Rose Tinted Memories. Rose is the main protagonist and I hope to tell her story – from 1905 – 1956 – with a dark humour and pathos. We will see! Hey ho, a writer’s life for me.

Sweet Dreams has been withdrawn from NGP – a long story – and is being re-edited for publication with Unicorn. Probably by Christmas.

Cheers for now. Meanwhile, keep reading and don’t forget to post reviews of what you have read – favorable or otherwise. (It was only because someone bothered to write a review saying how bad the formatting for Pebbles was, that I was alerted to the problem.) Reviews really help authors to identify and address their readers needs. They also boost awareness of their work – and hopefully generate sales – so get posting!

Pebbles on a Beach Remember A Good Book is a Great Friend. 

Fear

9 of swordsI like to think that age brings self-confidence, a certain degree of self-knowledge and a smattering of that illusive, much desired quality called wisdom. Next year I shall be seventy…next year I shall be seventy. Gulp! (I had to write that twice as it seems too ridiculous to be true.) Inside, not far beneath this wrinkled exterior I fondly call skin, lurks a frightened child, who in every way is the living breathing image of myself.

When I was eleven, my father died. He had lung cancer and a wasting disease of the muscles. I watched my hero – a riding, shooting, cavalry man – shrink from a hulking sixteen stone-two, to a wizened six-stone skeleton. He was exactly the same age  I am now. My school – Sunny Hill Road Primary – was rehearsing Snow White and I had been cast as the lead part. I could hardly breathe from the mixed fear and excitement.that gripped me. Every Thursday afternoon we rehearsed in the school hall – except for  Snow White herself.. Thursday was the one day children were allowed to visit at St Thomas’s Hospital. So I missed all the major rehearsals. I was so scared that I wouldn’t know my part well enough. But I was even more afraid that my father would die and I would have missed a chance to be with him. Then, to crown it all I developed a boil in my rectum. I had to undergo a course of penicillin injections to treat it. Naturally I survived: only once locking myself in the loo too terrified to face the long, painful needle. Needless to say, no one at school knew or commented on my awkward gait, so my shame and fears were unfounded. I also remembered all my lines and stage directions. I actually enjoyed the performances.

The Thursday after the show I travelled to London wearing my costume and performed the entire show to my father. A few days later mummy came home with a brown carrier bag containing Daddy’s dressing-gown and wash bag. He was dead. My world – the world I knew – ended. It became a terrifying unfamiliar place.

If I try to recall the tidal wave of emotions that crashed over me, it is the memory of feeling lost and abandoned, the fear a child experiences when suddenly separated from their parent and not knowing where the parent has gone that features most. Of course my world had not ended. although it changed dramatically and although I have been fortunate enough to have always been loved, that dreadful fear of being left behind – of exclusion – of never quite belonging, has never left me.

When floundering, drowning in unfamiliar fears, or fears of the unknown,  we have no comparison to draw comfort from, no yard-stick to judge with, no understanding that this horror will pass. My stage fright has never left me, but I have learned to use it, to work through it. My terror of friends discovering I had a boil on my bottom, or anywhere else, holds no fear for me now. Even when. in 1978, I lost my mother to cancer, I knew that the awful fear of being alone, of never coping without her, would eventually fade. I also knew it could not prevent me from taking control and surviving until it did.

I don’t know when I shall have to face another, as yet unforeseen fear. I cannot begin to imagine the horror of living in Gaza or Southern Sudan, or Iraq where fear is endemic, where each day. and night survived is a tribute to human endurance. Nor can I begin to understand what drives a young human being to strap explosives around their body and blow themselves up, in the name of justice or faith. I have never been tested to that extent or felt fear of that magnitude. I hope I never do.

Yet, we none of us know what lies ahead. Sometimes I have a haunting of an unknown fear – but it passes.The next mega change I shall have to face will probably be my own death – or widowhood.(losing Alan is too terrifying to contemplate – so I don’t want to go there. Just writing it has made my blood turn cold and my insides cringe.) As for my own death? That holds no fears. Death is a process we must all go through, so it can’t be that difficult. Like the tiger says: “Life is hard; death is easy.” (Sweet dreams) Continue reading

Book Launch for ‘Pebbles on a Beach’

Here are some photos taken at my latest book launch at The Swan in West Malling.

 

STRENGTH

8 StrenghNormally the months of January and February are synonymous with depression and inertia. Soak them in enough rain to float an ark, add a splattering of coughs and colds, slip an insistent abscess under a tooth and you have a justifiable excuse to indulge in suicidal thoughts. Then on the second of February I lost a very close friend to cancer and I found myself slipping into an airless, stagnant hole. A suffocating place where the brain refuses to make connections between rational thought and emotion. In short, I was becoming engulfed in a clinical depression.

Over the years, I have  learned to live with depression. I take my medication everyday and trust that eventually the clouds will pass. I busy myself with ‘doing things’; words that must be written, calls that have to be made, food that must be cooked, dogs that have to be walked, cupboards that need to be cleared. I tell myself I can do it. I am strong. My friends tell me they are there for me – I just need to wait for the sun to come out and all will be well. But you know, there are times when no words will come, connections are severed the dogs make do with the garden and the neglected cupboards burst open to expose years of slovenly avarice. One’s ugly soul is laid bare.

The sun has been hanging around for several days now. I had noticed it, but it didn’t cheer me. It annoyed me with its inappropriateness. Today it is positively shining. A bright yellow thing, giving off a weak warmth. I did not rise with it, but  I am up. I have had a bath and washed my hair. I am now dressed. This has taken me two hours and left me feeling exhausted. Lack of energy is a major symptom of depression.These ‘symptoms’ manifest when you’re not looking. They close in, sucking out the oxygen, leaving you in a state of panic.For me, the first to arrive is irrational anger, short tempered sniping  – aimed mostly at my poor husband. Of course I deny its irrationality. (Paranoia walks hand in hand with depression) Next I become aware of every defect in the house. Each hairline crack, each damp patch, every stain presents as an irreparable fault. The garden becomes a wilderness that will never be tamed. I am losing control.

An increasing unwillingness to step outside the house follows. The house shrinks to a kitchen then a bedroom. As my depression deepens my safety zone gets smaller. When it gets really bad I take to the security of my bed. In time, I will return to my relatively amiable, normal, functioning self.The horizons will broaden and I will venture forth no longer exposing the frightened child, the constant failure, the inadequate human being that lives inside my mind. Once I am back in control I might not even have to face her myself. I might even deny her existence. (Apparently, recognising the symptoms of this disease for oneself is the first sign of recovery).

Thanks to the miracles of modern medicine, it is many years since I had a really severe bout of depression. I used be incapacitated for weeks, incapable of facing the world. I did not want to be dead. I simply wanted not to be here. Death might incur judgement, enforced reaction,compulsory entry into the unknown. I wanted a simple state of non-existence : to go nowhere, meet no-one, to cease to be. I have always said that given the choice of being here or not being here, I would choose the latter  I would prefer never to have been born. Of course there are times when life is fabulous, a miraculous experience – but there are other times when the actuality of existence overwhelms and terrifies me. Churchill knew his depression as  a black panther –  a dark, predator – silent and lethal, always there, primed to pounce when least expected. Mine is a place of exile. It is a form of banishment, but equally as unpredictable as any cat.

Many years ago, as I was  emerging from just such a state, my piano teacher, who was also a friend, called round unannounced. She was concerned that I had missed several lessons and had not been answering the phone.  I remember the shock of fear as the door bell rang and the fear as I hid behind the door, the dread of being discovered, and my desperate prayer that the caller would tire and go away. She didn’t. Eventually she let herself in, with the ’emergency’ key and found me – in my dressing-gown trembling and blubbering behind the sofa. After she had made us some tea, I had calmed down enough to ask her how she coped with her ‘paper bag days’.

“What’s a paper bag day?” she asked.

“Days when you feel so useless…when you just want to disappear.” I replied.

“I don’t get them! I wake up feeling the same everyday. I thought we all did.”

” But everyone has paper bag days, days when you can’t cope with life.”

My friend put her arm round me. “No, actually they don’t!” She smiled and said, “Listen, I’m lucky, I don’t get depressed – who knows if I’d cope any better than you. You’re still here aren’t you? Well done. You’re doing fine.”

I never forgot her words. So now, when I feel I am not coping I remember that to cope does not mean becoming Wonder Woman. It does not demand heroic action or even nominal bravery. It simply means surviving, muddling through, weathering the storm – even if this is by the skin of one’s abscessed teeth.

This has not been easy to write – to publicly expose a part of myself that I do not really understand and am still reluctant to accept has been hard. But, I am not alone. 2.4 million people in the UK suffer with bipolar. You might well be one of them. My condition is apparently quite mild, although you could have fooled me! Even so, I used to think I was pathetic, that I wasn’t trying hard enough. Then I discovered that I have an illness and, surprise surprise, I am coping quite well. I manage the symptoms and lead an active, creative life – most of the time. Being bi-polar has given me insight, tolerance and a degree of understanding that has helped both my writing and my relationships. I would not wish mental illness on anyone, but it is not necessarily an exclusively negative force.

I could not have written this a few days ago, but I am feeling much better now. On reading it through I recognise it is woefully inadequate. But,those of you who like me get clinically depressed will understand what I am trying to say. Others may learn that a friend’s rejection or failure to respond to an offer of help is not meant as a personal snub. Depression builds walls, it creates exclusion zones. It feeds on itself and destroys logic. Be patient and your friend will respond when they are able to. And remember there is help out there. Wonderful new drugs exist that can enable life to be lived normally, without dulling the emotions or cramping creativity. I am living proof of that. Of course it is just possible that I have been misdiagnosed and am simply barking mad! Just ask my friends, they’ll tell you.

 

 

Have a Nice New Year

Why should an arbitrary date on a calender make us feel obliged to improve ourselves and begin the new year with fresh resolve and impossible objectives? Do these resolutions make us better people? Or do they simple pile on the guilt when we watch them flounder and fade? Does the world become a safer, fairer place because we turn the page? Do I suddenly manage to shed the unwanted pounds, control my wayward temper, finish all those horrible little tasks that I have put off doing for the past year, bring an end to World hunger? No. I am still this imperfect being and will remain so until the next year is ushered in…and so it will continue for my duration.

Or will it? This year I have not made any resolutions. Instead I have made myself a promise. I will try to be nicer. Yes I have used the N word. Nice is such an undervalued word, don’t you agree? As an adjective it conveys the sense of giving satisfaction; pleasant or attractive: we had a very nice time. When describing a person it implies a good nature, kind and warm. I would be happy to be described like that; not too grand, approachable. A modest, achievable goal – but one I hope might prove contagious.

Alan and I have been together for 43 years. Now some of that is because he hates change…but much of it is because he is a very kind man. I have never known him speak badly about anyone. I have never known him be unkind, or vindictive. (Mind you he has never sent a birthday, Christmas or thank you card to anyone – but I think that’s more a man thing than a failing on his part.) I am the one who blows the gasket – but I am also the one who says ‘Sorry’.

We have always been polite to each other and I believe this is the secret to our relationship. Manners are affected. They are contrived. They slow the pace, allowing time to smooth the edge off difficult situations. They put little commas in our lives so that we continue on a smooth path, until passions have calmed and sensible dialogue can continue. Normal service having been restored, without  permanent damage having occurred.

This may sound rather bland. It isn’t. There is still plenty of room for sparks and flames, but simple, good manners ensure there is a fire extinguisher to hand. Believe me, life in the Button household is far from perfect. It is always lively, never dull. We respect each other’s space and enjoy each other’s company. At the end of the day there is always something to say ‘thank you’ for. And receiving gratitude is wonderful.

So here’s to  2014. Let it be filled with pleases and thank yous, joy, laughter, compassion and love. Have a nice year – be kind to yourselves and to those around you. Smile at strangers, hold doors open, help them when they need help. Spread a little happiness. Be nice to the World and it will be nice back.

Food for Thought

Picasso once said, “It took me four years to paint like Raphael, but a lifetime to paint like a child.” If you broaden that as a maxim for life, it still has a profound truth.

When I was very young, I had to take Parish’s Chemical Food. I can still taste it – an iodine coloured liquid  with a distinct, metallic tang. It had to be drunk through a straw.( I think it was prone to rot the enamel on your teeth.) I needed this food supplement because, as a child I hated most food.There were some foods – especially cabbage – which would actually make me retch. I would sit for hours staring at my plate, watching the wretched stuff grow colder and even more repulsive, while I remained unable to swallow so much as a mouthful. (It was my father who insisted I remained at the table with my plate of misery in front of me. My mother was more compassionate.)

“There are thousands of starving children in Africa who would love the chance to have a dinner like that.” Mummy would say, playing to that innate sense of fairness all children are born with.

“Well, send it to them.” was my stock reply – a solution which, to my innocent uncomplicated mind, seemed both logical and satisfactory. Seeds of guilt were sown, however, seeds that grew as I grew and as my awareness grew.

Now I eat everything in front of me – except for calves liver and goose pate. I enjoy my food, especially cabbage, of all varieties.  I  have a penchant for vinegar, and sour pickles , which might stem from that chemical food – but, all in all, I have grown out of my fussy eating habits. However, there are still thousands of starving children in this world. And I still struggle with the injustice that perpetuates this situation. At times we have all ranted on about it, “If man can reach the moon surely he can feed the world?” – You know the sort of thing? Yes, of course, I  know that it’s not that easy. But I refuse to lose my childlike faith that it could be simple.

Take away multinational greed, expunge the pursuit of power, the desire for domination, eliminate Political manipulation and willed ignorance and this world might stand a chance. Recognition of each individual’s right to exist, to have a space they can legitimately call home, the right to eat the food they grow, and drink the water from their own reserves would be a start. If huge commercial companies stopped exploiting natural resources to produce luxury products, communities would not be robbed of their basic water or fuel supplies. Is it so hard  to imagine living a simpler life – one where less energy is consumed – where less waste is created – where life is lived in the slow lane rather than careering  around constantly getting nowhere?

This isn’t a sermon. Far be it for me to preach; I haven’t got it right. I am no Picasso. It’s just a thought – one that I’m sure many of you have shared. Is it wishful thinking to want to do something? What if we all tried living with a bit less, without knowingly exploiting others? They say, ‘A march of a thousand miles, begins with one step’. If that step becomes a stomp; if we all stamp and stomp together we might make a mark on this world. Wouldn’t it be great if my leftover cabbage didn’t make me feel guilty any longer?Wouldn’t it be wonderful if we could say to our children, “It’s okay. Today everyone has plenty of food on their plate.”

Well, what with Syria, the Philippines, the Central African Republic, Palestine, Haiti, and all the other forgotten or soon to be un-newsworthy places of need, we have a long, long way to go. I used to panic, and feel totally helpless. I used to wail about injustice without any facts to back up my arguments. I have more ammunition now. And do you know what? We don’t all have to become world authorities on the causes of poverty and injustice to fight against them. There are NGO’s out there who know how to help, but they need us to support them. They have the expertise, the will and the manpower ready in the field. They can make a difference. We have the luxury of a democratic government, we can lobby and persuade. We can vote with our wallets. We can wag our tongues, use our voices to speak for those who are too weak or exhausted. we can stamp our feet like little children until the ‘grownups’ are deafened and have to listen. We can send them our cabbage – but what they need is money – they will know what to do with it. It may seem to take ages – too long at times – but the logistics of helping can be alarmingly complicated. One last quote, “No one made a greater mistake than the man who did nothing, because he could only do a little.” (Edmund Burke)

Sorry. This was going to be a light-hearted blog about food – well maybe it is. Food for thought – better than left over cabbage any day.

The time of my life…

I can’t believe it’s two months since I posted my last blog. So much has happened in that short time. In some ways it has seemed like the blink of an eye, yet in others it has been a long, eventful time.

It’s strange how the nature of time changes. An hour is too short a time  to spend with a loved one, but it is far too long to sit with a bore or wait for a bus. I can drink a glass of champagne in seconds – but I take forever to get to the bottom of a glass of soluble aspirin. I don’t know if that is the same relativity that Einstein was on about, but the duration of time does seem to bear a direct correlation to what we are doing.

Over the past two months, between these two blogs, I have formed my own publishing company, completed and formatted my third novel, designed and produced the cover (including the dreaded blurb) and once it is proof read it will be ready for printing. I can’t believe how quickly all this has happened.The last time I produced a book – with the cost and assistance of a publisher – it took an incredibly frustrating and interminably long seven months. Doing it all myself has taken no time at all. The difference has been the enjoyment factor.

In that same two months time I have read four books, three I couldn’t put down and one I never had the time to finish. I have watched ten movies, seen two plays and had a brilliantly hectic social life. The time has flown by. I have also had a chest infection and a mild depression which just went on and on. I have been to parties, dinners and  lunches – all far too short and have watched the season change from bright summer to misty autumn. Another year nearly over. The drive to the house has been relaid, but remains unfinished, the windows have been cleaned four times and my dogs have had a Westie to stay for five weeks. Alan had a birthday, with a super party and my friend’s lovely cat died aged nineteen. I’ll let you guess how the time passed for each of these events.

This time last year I thought my sister was dying. Time was heavy and cruel, as it crept along. Then, just two weeks ago we went away together for a few short days at a health resort. The sun shone and the days were over before they began. Marie is able to enjoy life again and  I am delighted. I am still going to Tai Chi – still loving it, still learning slowly but surely. They say it takes a life time. Tomorrow we are going with old friends to see the National Dressage Finals.(I seem to remember riding in another life.) I can’t wait, but I know that too soon this weekend will be just another lovely memory.

I have promised myself not to get aerated about my forthcoming book. So far I am managing to keep calm and work methodically. I have no time pressures, no deadlines to meet, no one but myself to chivy. That may be why I am enjoying the process. Or it could be because I am in control. Either way the lesson I shall take from it is this. As time is relative, I can decide whether to enjoy my life and let it hurry by – or be a miserable cow and take a long time wallowing in static misery. So I intend to keep busy: to have a life rich in memories and crammed with new experiences. If, when I reach the end, it seems to have gone too quickly and been too short, so be it. I just hope I will not look back and wish it had ended sooner because it was too bloody boring. I want my life to be sweet and if that makes it shorter that’s okay by me. I do however want each gin I sup to be very long and very dry!