Another one Bites the Dust - bye bye 2018. Hello 2019.
Well I'm not sorry that 2018 is over. We had major family traumas. My children's father (my best friend and ex husband), became ill, deteriorated rapidly and suddenly he was gone. Devastating. One spark of joy - a new birth, a grandson, which brings hope and life and energy. So I just want to close the door and move forward into 2019, asap.
It's a funny thing about grief, just when you think the worst is over and you're moving on, boof! Out of the blue when you least expect it, it rises like a wraith and pole axes you in the head again. After a while you manage to get a grip and everything's ok again for a while. I wrote a poem about it a few years back - it's in my poetry collection called Heart Broke :
I’m picking out the shards of glass, counting. That’s the last, isn’t it? No. I find more splinters. There. It’s all done.
I feel a little better. And then another dart alerts me … I start picking again.
So ... 2019. What's to do? I've got so many writing projects I don't know where to start.
Finish my second memoir. Changes are coalescing in my head about that. I wrote half it and then stopped last June. The unfolding tragedy intervened. But I've been mulling it over, back and forth.
Did you see the interview with Andrea Levy - in the BBC Imagine series , the presenter is Alan Yentob. So interesting - she's one of my favourite authors - she wrote The Small Island, The Long Song - both of which have been dramatized by the BBC and shown recently. The first is about the experiences of the Windrush generation,(Windrush was the name of the ship that brought the first group to England). They were coming to help rebuild the Mother country after the Second World War, the difference between the dream and the reality. The second book - Long Song is about the slave trade in Jamaica and its aftermath. The slave traders were all compensated when slavery was abolished in 1833 and the slaves got nothing - so were largely forced to remain as indentured labourers - their lives little better. If you live or go to London, go down to Canary Wharf to the tiny museum there built on the wharf where the slaves from Africa came in and the sugar cane from the plantations also was brought in. You can still see several of the brick warehouses where the sugar cane was stored and the place near the museum where the slaves stood on the dock to be auctioned.
Anyway I'm digressing as usual, back to Andrea Levy's interview. She told Alan Yentob that she writes for an hour, then goes off and does domestic stuff and mulls it all over for the rest of the day. ONE HOUR. I was quite stunned. And vindicated. I hear of writers who religiously sit at their desks at the crack of dawn and write all day and stop in the late afternoon and I feel guilty. My writing processes are so haphazard. I spend all morning getting chores done7ish, getting dressed, answering emails, following up Facebook and Twitter stuff. My working day will start c. 2-3 and then I'll work until 7ish if I can. Of course some days I have to do other stuff, I'm doing an author marketing course, I'm writing my blog, sending out to my mailing list (as here) or meeting a friend for lunch or going out in the evening ... so I'm lucky if I do 2 hours writing a day. Andrea Levy does one hour, one of the most successful writers in this country today, does one hour and makes no apology for it. So no need for guilt about my random and disorganised process.
Another thing that came out in the interview is that Andrea Levy has terminal cancer, she has an aggressive form that is beyond treatment. That was a shock. Here's death rearing up again. I really can't be bothered to start blahing on about death and renewal in an attempt to make it, death, alright for you the reader. I also don't like using all the euphemisms we do use as substitutes for the word death. You won't get a positive spin on death from me. It's the end of this life, whatever you believe happens next. It will be a great shame to lose Andrea L but she will leave behind a body of work of major importance in illuminating the slave trade and it's aftermath. Did I mention by the way that Marylebone in London was built largely by the compensation revenue given to the slave traders returning from the plantations?
Anyway, back to 2019 and my plans for the year ahead. They've definitely been coloured by the events of 2018. I want to, for when I'm gone, leave behind a body of work that is of some use - whether as story telling in relation to places and times I have lived through or passing on some knowledge or using my skills to research and write HOW TO non fiction. I've got 3 of those in the pipeline as well as the 2nd memoir. Watch this space.