Write Away in Tuscany…Italy

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Finding a writing corner for one of the exercises

I was described last week by my niece as bold, because I set up a writing course where we live in beautiful Tuscany. I don’t feel bold – foolhardy maybe – but one of my mantras is “nothing ventured, nothing gained”.
So, this time last week eight very different writers arrived to spend a week at il Mulino. They left this morning and I’m missing them. Yes, I’m tired – but I’m happy too. But just before they turned up, I had a little wobble: how would it all work out? Would they fit together as a group? I’d lured them all this way to Italy, from England and Switzerland, and the feeling of responsibility overwhelmed me. Reading the feedback so far, comments are predominantly positive: “Excellent value! Been like living in a film set. Such welcoming hosts and wonderful atmosphere…”; “The whole package of tuition/camaraderie/food etc. is what appealed to me…”.

 

There are definite improvements to be made and I thought I’d share a few points, because we hope to make this an annual event. (I have three enquiries already for next year). This year I joined in with the writers, so I could gauge the sessions for myself. I’ve attended a few writing courses in my time. Not all group dynamics will be the same, but here are some general tips gleaned over the past seven days.
Do break up the writing sessions into comfortable lengths (and provide comfortable chairs). We were so fortunate with the weather and all our classes were held outside. Students need to be happy physically as well as emotionally. Writing can stir up sensitive issues. Be aware.
Do have a course time table but be flexible and be prepared to alter. Make the restaurant meals and outings optional as people need their space and won’t always want to be in a “herd”.
Do make sure that all writers are included in discussions and tasks (if they want to participate). Ours was a mixed group with some writers having more experience than others. Our tutor, Sonja Price, was excellent at facilitating this and maintaining order. (She teaches in Germany… say no more.)
Don’t forget to have time to yourself each day. (This applies to everybody – time out is important). I was buzzing about cooking for everybody, trying to make sure everybody was happy, including our tutor. My darling husband was a star – driving up to the village for fresh bread, milk and fruit each morning; sorting out technicalities, lighting the barbecue, peeling spuds… I couldn’t have managed without him. There was one evening when I was so tired I told him I was never holding a writing course again, but after a good night’s sleep, I forgot my tantrum. Next time I shall hide myself away for at least one hour each day.

Don’t cook a spaghetti mountain… on the other hand, it’s better to over cater than allow students to starve. Prepare as much as you can in advance.

We definitely have tweaks to make and we’ll work on this. On the whole, I loved this week. It is life-affirming when you witness new talents emerge and feel confidence growing. To listen to nine very different takes on a single exercise and to be moved to tears (as I was) by some of the writing… and that’s good tears …  was wonderful. Sharing in life is what we should do, isn’t it? And there was plenty of that. And plenty of laughter. It was a fabulous group and I’ve gained new friends.
“Nothing ventured, nothing gained” and watch this space for “Write Away in Tuscany” 2019. Same time of year, same place but with a slightly different format.

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Day Three (and Four)

Thank heavens Audrey is recording her thoughts on Write Away in Tuscany. I am quite busy with catering and trying not to kill off my lovely writer guests with food poisoning. Lots of friendships forged and many new writing tips being thrashed out.

AUDREY DAVIS, Author

 

 

 

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I I  I-will start this post by saying that 50% proof, plum-based fennel liqueur is delicious but not totally conducive to writing a coherent blog. Add in a bit of red wine, a ton of yummy food and it’s safe to say that I slept well at the end of Day Three. And was completely unable to post anything, hence the combining of two days’ worth of activity.

It was a greyer, cooler day in Tuscany, but nonetheless a pleasant one. Our first ‘double session’, with the morning focussed on creating credible characters and putting them into action. We somehow landed (excuse the pun) on pest controllers and I flew with a wasp exterminator loosely based on real-life experience. Again, I was amazed at how diverse and interesting the responses were.

The afternoon was spent on many areas, including ‘setting’, where we had to…

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Tuscany here I come!

I can’t wait to welcome my eight students to our first Write Away in Tuscany course. Our lovely, organised and fun tutor, Sonja Price, is ready and waiting (actually, she is having a siesta at the moment! Giving away her secrets).

AUDREY DAVIS, Author

The time is almost here! Tomorrow I head to Italy for the start of a one-week writing adventure – my first ever. Below is the beautiful place where I’ll be staying, joining fellow writers each morning to learn from tutor Sonja all manner of things. Plot and story, creating credible characters, dialogue and voice to name but a few. And there promises to be lots of delicious food and wine to add to the enjoyment. And I’m taking my hiking boots in order to work off some of the calories!

As promised, I plan to keep a short blog diary of the week which I will share with you. Hopefully I will come away both inspired and motivated to continue with my WIP and – perhaps – with a few new ideas. Feeling excited …
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Let petals fall…

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Sometimes you have to let petals fall. I’ll try and explain what I mean.

Last Easter I had a bit of a turn (some of you may remember) –  a frightening episode when I had a four-hour bout of transient global amnesia and ended up in A and E. Lots going on in my mind and a bit of a wake-up call.
A couple of weeks later, Endeavour Press went into liquidation. I could have joined their new outfit, but I decided to go it alone. I wasn’t sure what to do when another digital publishing house approached me after that. At the time, despite feeling I might be losing out on a great opportunity, I had to follow my heart and turn Bookouture down. I felt I couldn’t meet their deadlines. I didn’t need any more stress.
But Bookouture describe itself as family. And I really feel they care about their authors. I had a couple of long phone calls with one of the team, and she reassured me deadlines could be adjusted. Still undecided, my decision to eventually accept a Bookouture contract was helped by a stroke of serendipity.
In July I attended my first writers’ conference in Leeds as a new member of RNA (Romantic Novelists Association) and one of the Industry Professionals offering author slots was none other than Bookouture. I went to their excellent presentation, feeling like an undercover spy, nursing the knowledge that a member of this dynamic, forward-thinking team had told me she had “fallen in love” with my book. My fears of shadowy, non-existent people on the net were soothed by listening to intelligent, REAL PEOPLE standing in front of me in the auditorium.
The package included help with the writing process: structural edits, line edits, production schedules, copyediting, proofreading, typesetting, packaging, covers and, joy-of-joys: PUBLICITY. Yes, all those things that make my shoulders slowly reach up to my ears, as I hunch over my laptop and that constant fear of making a bundle of errors creeps into my brain. It is hard, but not impossible, to self-publish, but, boy, does it take away from writing time. And I am such a technophobe.
So, I’m glowing when I say I am now part of the Bookouture family and I’m determined to give of my very best.
“Tuscan Roots” will be altered and republished in June 2019 and I’m up for that. I wrote this debut novel in a rush for my Italian mother-in-law in 2012, when she was very ill, wanting to honour the many war memories she had shared with me. My writing has moved on since then and I can see there are tweaks to be made. And I’ve been commissioned to write a new Tuscan novel, to be published April 2020. I’m so excited about these projects.
So, I’ll be what’s known as a hybrid author. (I always think that sounds like an animal species: definition: “the offspring of two plants or animals of different species or varieties, such as a mule.”) “Mavis and Dot” is being self-published (I’m grappling with formatting at present. Grrr!) and will be launched December 1st.

Mavis & Dot promo

Sometimes we have to sit back and let petals fall, instead of thinking that if we relax for a moment, everything will fall to pieces.

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A month in the country

 

Sussex fieldsFirle, East Sussex

I’ve had a month in the country.
I’ve been in Southern England, and away from Tuscany where I usually find myself in July and August.
There hasn’t been much time to write, but in between looking after toddlers and a very pregnant daughter during a heat wave, I’ve had time to ponder.
About words. For example, our word country can mean both nation or countryside. There are the same nuances to words in Italian. Paese means both the nation and it also means a town. If you ask an Italian where he is from, he will usually answer first with the name of his home town or village. “O paesano”, is something you hear when two Italians discover they are from the same place. Paesaggio from the same stem, means scenery. But there’s a completely different word for countryside – campagna.
I’ve often been asked why I haven’t translated my two Tuscan novels from English into Italian, but being able to translate properly, to do a book justice, a translator needs to know about nuances in both languages. And I’m not fluent enough in Italian.

I was away from Tuscany to help welcome a little person into the world. Finn was born on August 1st. A brother for four-year-old Luca and two-year-old Leo. They are all “adobable” – Leo’s way of saying adorable. He’s at the start of his word-learning life. I jotted down a few comments my young grandsons made during my month in the country. I even wrote a short story once I was back here in Tuscany, based on a question Luca asked me. “Granny, do moths have friends?” He asked me this, after a moth died. I’ve sent it off for publication. Fingers crossed.baby FinnFinn, four days old

This blog is a bit of a ramble. Forgive me.
As I said, my month provided me with an enforced break from writing. And I think we all need to step back from routine. I didn’t have a rest when helping my young grandsons, but my mind had a break and I have renewed enthusiasm now and lots of ideas.
Before going to stay with our eldest daughter, I visited my Italian mother-in-law. She now lives in a Home as she is suffering from Alzheimer’s and I was afraid she might not recognise me. But she did. And that was a blessing because there are days when she is extremely confused. So, the start of my month was spent with a ninety-two-year old and the end of the month was spent with a new born.
Life whizzes by. Let’s make the most of each and every day.

nanna in her homeGiuseppina, who inspired “Tuscan Roots”. 

 

 

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The next instalment…

 

With the final part of “The Haunting of Hattie Hastings” trilogy published, I caught up with author Audrey Davis in Switzerland. I am really looking forward to meeting my ‘virtual friend’ in September for our writers’ workshop which I am organising here in Tuscany. But, in the meantime, we continued our virtual chat.

 

Now that all three parts of HH are published, what are you working on at the moment, Audrey?
Well, I have written a distinctly underwhelming 1K words or so of my WIP. It was originally titled ‘Untitled Project’ but has progressed to ‘Never Too Late.’ Which could also apply to me, having published my debut novel at the tender age of 53. Now, with five books to my name, I wish I could be lying back on a sun-kissed beach, sipping cocktails and watching the royalties pour in. Sadly, my income at present is less champagne and caviar, more cheap Prosecco and a round of toast. Still, nobody said it would be easy. I had the idea some time ago of a book about an ‘older’ lady who makes a shock announcement ahead of her 50th wedding anniversary. From there, we see flashbacks of her life, and she ends up house sharing with a much younger woman. They learn from each other and form a bond, despite family opposition. I was disheartened when I saw a similar story arc for an upcoming book, but will persevere as everyone has their own way of telling a story. I also have a possible plot involving a bunch of people on a WhatsApp group chat, with the idea of it being a kind of thriller. But I’m not sure that’s my strength, and I believe there’s a market today for books with characters in their 70s and beyond.

I shouldn’t worry about seeing the similar story arc. We all have different voices and, in any case, there are only seven types of story anyway. You have a special style and you always make me laugh.

How far in advance do you know what you’re going to write? Are you a plotter of a pantser?
As I said, ideas have come to me but largely lain dormant in the build-up to publishing Hattie Part Three. I am definitely a ‘pantser’ but hope to at least lay down a clear timeline and well-developed character profiles this time. With Hattie I tended to write and write, then realise I’d messed up and have to go back and make painful corrections.

Do you always write humour?
So far, yes. If you speak to any of my friends, they’ll tell you I’m something of the class clown. Always looking for a witty retort or one-liner. I am essentially a bit of an introvert, very happy to be on my own either reading or writing. When I feel a bit overwhelmed at a social event, I use humour as a defence mechanism. I love reading dark, twisty thrillers but not sure I could ever write one!

Have a go! “Nothing ventured…” Has living in Switzerland helped or hindered you as a writer? I love the photograph of your writing place. How distracting is that view!IMG_1211
It’s a beautiful country with an amazing climate (although I’m not really a snow bunny, much preferring the long, hot summers and the amazing thunderstorms). However, I wish I could participate more in UK-based writers’ events and do feel a bit isolated at times. I went to a reader/writer meet-up in Leeds last March through a Facebook group and felt so energised and loved. People were screaming, ‘It’s Audrey! From Switzerland!’ and it was so nice to meet them in real life. I got ridiculously excited recently when I discovered there was an another author – of YA fiction – living in the same, tiny village as me. We arranged to meet for coffee and I duly sat down and ordered, unsure what this person looked like. A girl, who appeared around eighteen, nervously approached me and – yes – it was Rosie. Actually twenty four, which made me feel ancient (the same age as my son). However, we got on like a house on fire and will definitely meet up again. I am considering getting a base back in the UK where I could spend three or so months a year, both to be closer to my two boys, and to engage more with the writing community. I can only be grateful for social media – FB and Twitter in particular – for enabling me to connect with like-minded people and build my profile a little.

I agree with so much of what you say. I live for six months in Tuscany – which is idyllic. We have only been able to use internet properly for a couple of years. Before that, I had to use a dongle and park up in a layby on the mountain (getting dodgy looks) to find a strong enough signal. Being able to connect with other authors on line has made such a difference to me. I wouldn’t have met you, would I?

Good luck with your next project and also for the publication of the third part of HATTIE HASTINGS. Readers, you can buy it here

 

I have enjoyed all three instalments of HATTIE HASTINGS, and here is my honest REVIEW:

 

In her acknowledgments, the author describes her book as “A journey into the unknown – and the afterlife…” and although I laughed out loud in parts, I also found Audrey Davis’s book thought provoking.
We don’t like to talk about death, do we? As if to deny it’s going to happen. But, of course we all know death is the one certain thing about our lives. Inescapable, despite whacky experiments like cryopreservation that crop up from time to time. Apparently, there are thousands of cadavers frozen at -196 degrees C, in the hope of resuscitation and restoration to life and full health in the far future. But I digress.
Should we take Audrey’s book seriously?  The idea a dearly loved, departed husband returns to help his wife and friends along? I think we should. We can cry about death, but we can laugh too. It’s both a serious and funny business.

The “Next Realm”, it seems, is a friendlier, more sociable place”, where there are bouncy castles, friends are friends forever and even flatulence doesn’t matter anymore. I love the way Davis attempts to fathom the “ins and outs of the afterlife”. Basically, nobody knows ,in all honesty, what is going to happen to us when we pop our clogs, so why not have a humorous stab at it?
The more serious moments, “grief is something you can drown in, or rise above and learn from,” and comments such as “if I can accept that ghosts exist, I can believe in just about anything,” are followed by down-to-earth silliness. When Hattie realises she’s not going to be able to rely on the appearance of her “rock”, her deceased ghostly husband, she says, “we never got to go on a cruise.”
Her ghostly husband, now flickering on and off out of focus, replies, “… you know you get seasick on a pedalo.”
These exchanges and countless others are endearing, laugh-out-loud, stand-up comedy which soften the basically morbid subject of death.
Once again, I chuckled throughout this book. I wrote about the author’s convincing characterisation in my other reviews, so I won’t repeat myself here.  I’d have given it five stars, but I still maintain the three parts should be in one volume, not standalones. I found it irksome to have to refer back to Parts 1 and 2 to remind myself of events and characters. So, a worthy four stars it is. 
I love this author’s look on life and look forward to her next creations.

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Checking in…

Almost two weeks ago, I flew from Bologna to Manchester and caught the train to Leeds for my first Romantic Novelists’ Association annual Conference.

I didn’t know what to expect and I was apprehensive. Would all the authors be like Barbara Cartland, wearing fussy pink dresses, writing fluffy pink love stories? Would I fit in? Why on earth was I going?

Anxiety was dispelled as soon as I walked through the main doors of Leeds Trinity University and was met by ordinary smiley people and a bag full of goodies: books, chocolates, bookmarks and biscuits.

photo of rna for blog

Can you spot the bestselling author I selfied (managing to block myself out)? Answers in comments…

A huge variety of sessions had been arranged, ranging from conversations with well-known authors, such as Sue Moorcroft and the hilarious Milly Johnson; sessions with the editor of Mslexia, Debbie Taylor, about how to write a synopsis and pitch your novel; an amusing insight into what the editor Maggie Swinburne needs for her My Weekly pocket novels. It was an entertainment in itself listening to her descriptions of characters stranded on Greek islands, Cinderella murder stories, stories set between the wars, with carnage softened by romance and comeuppance  for the baddies. She is looking for emotional rollercoasters that move the reader all the time and needs to be over-excited by the stories she receives. It was a joy to listen to her and she’s certainly tempted me to write an escapist 50,000 novella. We all need a hefty dose of romance in our lives after all.

The talk I enjoyed most was given by two very different historical romance authors: Carol McGrath, whose stories are set in the Middle Ages and Charlotte Betts, an award-winning author of several Regency classics. As I’ve written historical fiction myself, I found their advice fascinating. We were advised that the story is paramount and not to deliver a history lesson in our writing, to never forget the story is an entertainment. The balance between truth and fiction is the secret and how to animate our characters, to make them resonate with the modern reader whilst remaining true to their era. Research should bring texture to our writing to enhance known facts and should always be buried deep within the narrative. I treasured their advice and wrote notes to help me in the future.

A highlight of Conference (apart from new friendships and a delicious gala dinner on Saturday night, when authors scrubbed up and looked glam), was the precious opportunity to have ten-minute slots with publishers, agents or editors. My first was with Emily Yau of Quercus and I had two more with commissioning editors of Bookouture and Harper Collins. This was such a valuable experience, not least because I had to submit a cover letter, synopsis and my first chapter in advance. There is nothing to concentrate the author’s mind better than writing a synopsis. In fact, I learned from the Mslexia editor’s session that many authors use the synopsis as a kind of compass, to keep on piste as they work on their manuscripts.

So, I came away enthused and ready to roll. The process has stalled for a while because I am staying with my very pregnant daughter, who is almost ready to pop, and looking after two adorable but lively grandsons. As soon as they have gone to bed, I flop and claim fatigue. I can’t write when I’m exhausted, my brain tells me.

However this morning I read author Louise Jensen’s latest blog and felt the teeniest bit ashamed of myself. Despite suffering from chronic pain and disabled by clinical depression, she has written four novels recently and decided to turn to full-time writing. She wrote her first… “on the sofa, at the dining table, in the bedroom, at my son’s desk in his room. Anywhere I could carve out space in our busy house.” Click for details about Louise Jensen’s debut novel

She has just gone over the 1,000,000 English language sales mark and was obviously born to write.

I met another young author at conference who has young children and she writes every morning from 4.30 a.m. until the household stirs. What dedication…

I might attempt a few lines this evening when the children are in bed.

Are you an author? What is your writing routine?

p.s. You can tell I’m tired – I can’t work out how to make my font uniform on this borrowed pc.

 

 

 

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“Go to another place…”

The River Marecchia has its source near us in our Tuscan hideaway. We enjoy a daily, summer plunge in its fresh waters as it flows past our watermill.  From here it flows through the valleys to Rimini, where it gushes into the sea.

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Rimini is not a city we tend to visit often. It’s hot and crowded in the summer months, the beaches are packed, and it takes us one hour and a half to drive there.
But many of our visitors ask us what there is to see, so two days ago we went down to research.
“Investigate what lies beyond your curtains, beyond the wall, beyond the corner, beyond your town, beyond the edges of your own known country”, advises Colum McCann in his excellent “Letters to a Young Writer.”

We are lucky. We have a wonderful Italian Riminese friend and Antonella was our guide for this flying visit. Together we wandered around the two main squares. It was market day, so there were plenty of people about, including groups of youngsters celebrating their degrees. In Italy, a new graduate is crowned with laurels and a pretty girl allowed me to take her photo. IMG_5840
The covered market was a palette of colour and aroma, with arrangements of fruit and types of fish I’d never seen before.
The day was intended as an appetiser and we’ll definitely return to savour the beautiful cathedral, Malatesta fortress, library, surgeon’s house and municipal art museum.

 

 

But I especially want to take my time to return to take in the Fellini Museum.
Why? Because Federico Fellini, the renowned film maker, made Rimini his own and one of his famous films, AMARCORD, although not filmed in Rimini itself, is packed with memories of this place.
“Rimini is a mess, it is confused, frightening, and tender, with the airy, open, empty space of the sea.” (Fellini).
Rimini isn’t a mess anymore. Andrea Gnassi – mayor since 2011 – embarked on a programme to tidy it up and the results are palpable. The famous Fulgor Cinema has been cleaned up and AMARCORD is screened frequently, the theatre has been re-opened and there are routes for the tourist clearly marked out by pinkish paving stones.

Amarcord

The word ‘amarcord’ comes from the Romagna dialect for ‘mi ricordo’, meaning I remember. Fellini borrowed the title of a poem, “A m’arcord”, written by his good friend Tonino Guerra (who lived not far from us). I’m not going to analyse the film here, but Fellini packed his creation with fascinating, dream-like characters and when we crossed the Roman Tiberius bridge (which is still a vehicular access) into Borgo San Giuliano, I found myself looking out for the shopkeepers, the blind musician, the buxom woman in search of her husband, the hairy-lipped women on bicycles, the fascists, anti-fascists, the pre-pubescent boys and the mad uncle.

 

It was a great day, packed with new experiences. Sightseeing is tiring, and I was ready for my bed. I thought of Fellini as a little boy; how on his visits to his granny in the country, he would bless the four corners of the bed before he went to sleep, giving each corner the name of a cinema in Rimini: the Fulgor, the Savoia, the Sultano and the Opera Nazionale Dopolavoro.
Thank heavens for creatives and the treasures they leave behind.

 

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Perspective

 

I’m at that stage when my writer’s draft is being scrutinised. It’s a vulnerable time. You think and hope your work is done, but it isn’t.
You need perspective from the words you’ve been jotting down. In the case of my present novel, “Mavis and Dot”, it has taken me ten years to complete, from idea to story. But, I used the word complete. It is not!
I’m resorting to my favourite manual to guide me. In Chapter 10 (Revising) of The Creative Writing Coursebook, Paul Magrs writes: “It’s often necessary and important to have other people look at your work during the revising stage. You can look at your own writing from all sorts of points of view, but the things that other members of a writing group can tell you will always surprise you… You can’t let yourself become precious about your work… or retrospectively defend its weakness.”
Within the same chapter, Julia Bell in her passage, Feeling the Burn, says, “To revise your own work you need to be able to look at it as if you were not the writer.”
Easier said than done and I was definitely feeling the burn this morning after a couple of pieces of (useful) feedback from beta readers, which nevertheless hurt and confused me to some extent.
I was at the tantrum stage: fighting my own corner, stamping my feet like a sulky toddler over opinions about my main characters – the stars of my story. What to do?
As always, if I am in a quandary, I walk and sort my thoughts.
I started along the tangled hedgerow of the old road to the town, where cow parsley, campanula, vetch, orchids and poppies competed with one another, smothering the grass verges.IMG_5398

I waved at Lino, who used to live in our watermill, as he cut hay in his field. Half was sorted into rows to be raked up, the other half was still to be done.

IMG_5401 Sauro’s makeshift green house was next along the way. Inside, tomatoes were still ripening, whilst raspberries were almost ready to harvest.
A neat pile of wood was stacked, ready for next winter. A job nearly done.
Bees buzzed in hives at the edge of a newly mown field. They are such hard workers and I lingered to watch them arrive and depart from their hives. They never stop.
I was three quarters of the way home when I passed through our neighbouring hamlet of San Patrignano. Professor Tocci’s vegetable garden was neat and tidy; evidence of hours of toil. By his daughter’s house, a beautiful rose bloomed.

 

On the last stretch, I gazed at a field of poppies and the hilltop with the village of Montebotolino perched on the edge. I seemed to have found perspective during my walk. I’d concluded that writing is a hobby, but also a job. If a job is worth doing, it’s worth doing properly, like the tasks I’d come across along my walk.

IMG_5419So, onwards with the revising. I need to listen, but I also need to be independent and, in James Friel’s words: “… in the end … be your own critic, be your own cheerleader, and there are days when you will need to be both.”
My next task is to make an honest appraisal of “Mavis and Dot”, by writing down my own doubts and anxieties. And then to move forward.
How do others cope at this stage? What strategies do you use? I’d love to hear.

 

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Why write?

I set off yesterday morning in the rain. The word obfuscation sprang to mind – the usual view across the mountain range was under cloud and I hoped it wasn’t an omen.

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Would I be able to track down what I was looking for? Or would time have obscured the memories? I’m researching my next Tuscan novel and down in the valley from us, in Pieve Santo Stefano, is the National Archive for diaries, where I was bound. I had requested to see three documents and spent the next three and a half hours poring over the words of two women and one man. They were all accounts of experiences during the Second World War, in occupied Italy. I have to say I felt like weeping whilst reading. But I smiled too at this glimpse of ordinary lives from the past.

There was a poem printed as a poster on the library wall. It’s hard to translate all the sentiment behind Bruno Tognolini’s lines (and I will write it out at the end of this blog in its original form for my friends who read Italian). He conjures a person called Giovanna and asks why she’s written her diary. The answer – “I wrote to wash clean, I wrote to clarify, to do and undo the past that’s yet to come and so that this never-ending world would remember me.”
As I drove home, thinking about the young man who had described his battle at Cassino, where “young men died five times… in this cemetery of men of eighteen to thirty years of age”, about the fourteen-year-old Italian girl who fell in love with her eighteen-year-old German soldier, whose tender kiss she never forgot, about the single mother who was forced into prostitution with soldiers to feed her child, I thought what a wonderful thing it was that these diaries had been bequeathed. Through their words, these people live on.
Then I started to think about the reasons why we like to read and why we write. There are infinite reasons and for me, the two are connected. I think most of us need narrative in our lives. I read to broaden my life, to be swept away, to connect with different places and emotions and to have fun.
Writing isn’t always fun, but most of the time it is. Hopefully, if I enjoy my writing then one or two readers will enjoy it too. If I manage to connect, and to create something worthwhile out of everyday ordinary moments, take readers to places they’ve never been, drag them into my dreams, then it’s worth the times when Amazon remove our reviews and when algorithms, keywords, metadata, social platforms and all that other jazz get in the way of putting ideas down on paper.
Incidentally, when I drove home, the sun had come out and I could see the view.

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Filastrocca del vento dei diari

I diari sono atlanti
Sono rose nei venti
Son brezze silenziose
Di cose, cose, cose
Bianche, lavate
In vento trasformate
Un vento fatto d’anime
Disciolto nello scrivere
Oramai senza traccia
Di colori,di essenze
Che carezza la faccia
Con le pure esistenze
Un vento trasparente
Di ore, di sere
Passate inutilmente
Meravigliosamente
In pagine leggere
Scritte, trafitte
Spianate in righe dritte
Di calendar vivi
Giovanna, cosa scrivi?
Ho scritto per lavare
Ho scritto per schiarire
Per fare, disfare
Il passato a venire
Per dire le mattine
Per capire perché
Tu mondo senza fine
Ricordati di me
Voi scrittori nel vento
O cugini, o fratelli
O perduto da tanto
Adorate sorelle
Quei diari sono un dono
Un perdono di eroi
Perché io so chi sono
Perché io sono noi.”
Bruno Tognolini, 2014

If you have a moment, it would be great to have your theories on why you read or why you write.

 

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