Saturday, 18 April 2015

Sharing Writing on the Salon Table:

I thought you might like a sample of prose from Writing at the Maison Bleue. Writers at the Maison Bleu retreat share their writing by leaving a sample on the table in the great salon in the house by the Canal du Midi.


Veteran writer Francine's  'writing on the table' speaks of her adventures forty years before when she was a child in France in World War Two.

 
She has been left without her parents 

in the harbour town of Agde

[...]

At the deserted refuge I choose a small case from my mother’s collection and in it pack my schoolbooks, two suits that I cut down from suits made for my mother, the shoes with tyre soles that Auguste made for me, my red scarf, the little black and white photograph me and my mother at the door of the house where I grew up. A photograph of me on my bicycle, taken by Auguste. The little package with my mother’s cherry red dress. On top of them I put a cardboard folder with my butcher’s-paper stories on them. I add in more empty sheets where I decide will write more of my life out there in that secret place the country.
            I will have to hold in my head the images of Auguste’s harmless kisses and the loving touches we shared behind the scenes at the blue house.  And I will remember the bad things that went on there. The things we did.
           I wedge the suitcase on my bicycle and walk it down to the harbour. Madame Griche is there outside the laundress’s door, now closed and locked. She has her heavy bicycle with her, with the baskets back and front quite common these days.
I look for Auguste and his mother. But there is no sign them him.   I will not be able to kiss him goodbye.
[...] 

Writers Francine, Joe, Mariella, Abby, Felix,  Kit and Tom all leave very different examples of writing on the table in the salon at the Maison Bleuethat tells us a great  deal about them and their role in the story.

Hope you are enjoying the book!

w.

Saturday, 11 April 2015

Julia Darling and a Way of Speaking on Radio 4

A few weeks ago my friends Gillian Wales, Avril Joy and I - with our of  RoomToWrite hats on -   hosted a playwriting workshop to mark the tenth anniversary of the cruelly early death of our friend, the brilliant writer Julia Darling 



As I posted here, on LifeTwiceTasted, this was an inspiring and practical event
which reflected something of  the joy of our friend Julia who was always a popular and inspiring presence here in South Durham.
So I was delighted to hear – during my midnight listening - that the BBC are also commemorating Julia’s unique contribution to contemporary literary culture by broadcasting her work during this week. 
The broadcast is based on the tragic/comic lyrical diaries that Julia kept in the last three years of her life when she was in the latter stages of breast cancer. The diaries breathe her unique, intensely human, sense of the tragedy, the comedy and the ironies of   the process she was undergoing. To make poetry of this process, as she did, is the gift of angels.
So the BBC programme was, I thought, something to look forward to, to remember her and keep her alive in our hearts.
Then I was somewhat surprised, when I listened to a trailer-outtake from the drama when I heard the actress ‘being Julia’ speaking with a distinctive Tyneside accent.
Now the actress was good; it sounded great. I love our varied North Eastern ways of speaking which have larger or smaller echoes linking  individuals with the cities of Newcastle, Sunderland or Middlesbrough as well as the diverse countryside communities in between. And then we have other incomers here from all over Britain and the world with their own ways of speaking, I have antecedents in Wales and Scotland. My friend has antecedents in Lahore and Belgium.  These ways of speaking reflect the varied history and culture of the broad North East region. It is our way of speaking but it is no single accent.
We  can be very uneasy, then, about all this being squashed into a stereotyped ‘Geordie’ accent. We don’t all talk like Ant. Or Dec.
But – most important here - our inspiring friend Julia Darling used none of these identifiable modes of speech. She had a very good ear for speech and in her short stories and plays used her literary skill to allow these authentic modes of speech to play their proper theatrical part.   
But, as you will see from The Guardian obituary extract below, Julia was born in Winchester, went to Winchester Girl’s High School and lived in Berkshire. I will not say she had no accent – everybody, even the queen, has an accent. But, like all of us. Julia’s accent reflected her cultural background. Julia's plays demonstrated her good ear for local speech and gave powerful work to our talented North Eastern actors. As well as this Julia was a great reader and performer of her own writing, She had a lovely voice with a slightly deep intonation and  a smile somewhere inside it. She could do a North East accent but it was not her own mode of speech.
She certainly adopted the North East as her heart’s home and was part of our cultural map here. She was ‘our’ writer, But to render her poignant, last lyrical odyssey in any other way of speaking than her own -  as though she were a character in one of her own plays - seems mistaken to me.

I am pleased that the BBC has honoured her memory in this way and am looking forward to listening. But …


Extract from Julia’s Guardian Obituary: Julia was born at home in Winchester, the second of five children, in the house where Jane Austen died. Her father was a science teacher at Winchester College. She was educated at Winchester County high school for girls and St Christopher's school, Hertfordshire. She was a maverick and true original who, since childhood, had hated rules, control and authority. When she plastered anti-apartheid and women's right to choose posters on the windows of the house, the Jane Austen Society complained.


Click for Links: 



Monday, 6 April 2015

The Joys of Being a Serious Writer, Susan Sontag, and Me

My Easter week-end was made joyful by sitting in my sunny back yard reading a long article by Maria Popova about the writings of Susan Sontag.  In this article Popova distils for us the essence of Sontag’s wisdom about the inner world of the serious writer and the outer world of the interested reader.



I suppose this holiday activity of mine makes me look what I am – a rather serious
person. I was serious as a child, serious as a teenager, a serious young and middle aged writer. And I continue to be serious.

This seriousness can be a guilty secret, to be disguised at any age. My love for ideas and cultural history was not cool in my youth; it was not cool in my middle years.  But now as I get older I have at last come out as ‘serious’ and am not dismayed when some  people label my love for ideas, culture and history as eccentric. This is very useful nowadays when being\serious and committed writer who values the stories over profit can makes one seem odd to some people.

In the contemporary world a peculiarly evolving literary snobbery has carved our story-world into a blunt-edged hierarchy which has spawned iron-clad genres to feed a market which takes an essentially patronising view of readers, underestimating the breadth of their world view and the subtlety of their understanding.

As I keep saying, I am a serious writer. I take the world around me seriously. I take my readers seriously - not least because through the years they have been loyal and have understood that my narrative fiction and my story-telling, while it contains its own joy and humour, has cultural meaning beyond the hearth, the house, the street, the town, the city and out into to the world beyond. 


So, when the location of my storytelling has moved out from my home region to as far afield at France, America, Singapore and Germany, my readers have stayed with me and enjoyed the stories. Perhaps they recognised my voice as a storyteller who knows her world and tells some truth about people relevant on their twentieth and twenty-first century world.


So, you will see how much, being a serious storyteller, I relished my afternoon in the sun in the company of Maria Popover and Susan Sontag.




First  I was pleased to read that Susan Sontag warns us writers to be serious, and never to be cynical.

Although I make no claims to be a great writer, I hope I am a good writer. So I warm to and identify with Sontag’s description of a great writer. ‘A great writer of fiction both creates – through the acts of the imagination, through language that feels inevitable, through vivid forms – a new world that is unique, individual and responds to the world but is unknown to still more people [and shares it with] still more people, locked in their worlds: call that history or society or what you will.’

I love the way Sontag elevates story-telling to its proper high place in all cultures,  asserting that storytelling is literature’s great duty. ‘Storytelling, as well as being engaging and entertaining, transforms information into wisdom.’ The primary task of writing, she says, is to go on writing well – ‘neither burn out nor sell out.’
She is concerned that … everybody in our debauched culture invites us to simplify reality, to despise wisdom.

To write – and to read – is to know something. What a pleasure it is, she says, to read a writer who knows a great deal (not a common experience these days). A great writer of fiction, she says, by writing truthfully about the society in which she or he lives, cannot but evoke better standards of justice and truthfulness.

So I have no need to apologise for knowing a lot about a lot.

Storytelling, as practiced by a novelist, has an ethical component. ‘Serious fiction writers think about moral problems in practical terms. They narrate, they stimulate the imagination. The stories they tell enlarge and complicate – and therefore improve – our sympathies. They educate our capacity for moral judgement.’

The act of reading is a close, intense and rewarding experience. The nature of moral judgement essentially depends on the capacity for paying attention on the part of both the writer and the reader.

She goes on: ‘A novelist […] is someone who takes us on a journey through space and time.’ I like this. I myself recently wrote in my newsletter The Writing Process that the writer is the pathfinder through the inspirations, information, events, characterisations and prose that form the bulk of a first major draft.

Quite coincidentally The Pathfinder is the title of my next novel, which will be out towards the end of the year.


So, all in all, my afternoon in the sun has reassured me that it is no bad thing to be a serious person and a serious writer.

 I am in the best of company.

Links

Read Maria Popova’s whole article

Get Susan Sontag’s Essays and Speeches

Read my newsletter: The Writing Process.






Saturday, 28 March 2015

Recording Podcasts for Rachel

On Thursday I had a very lovely afternoon before a roaring fire at my house with Avril
Recording our extracts with Rachel
Joy and playwright Rachel Cochrane.

Rachel’s second string is her excellent audio internet site Listenupnorth. Her mission is to get audio versions of writers’ work out there for the world to enjoy. She works with individual writers and writing groups and is about to embark on on a project creating an audio installation inspired by the Nissan Car Factory. She also runs day writing retreats where people can write in peace for a day with no restrictions, domestic or otherwise. A wonderful idea.,

Our own mission on Thursday was  to record  podcasts for Listenupnorth.  Avril read from her excellent Short story collection Millie and Bird  (which she launched last Friday) and  I read extracts from my new novel Writing at the Maison Bleue  (which I will launch on May 1st)


Did you get your invitation to the launch? If not just email me and I will send you one.

It was fun. We embarked on our readings, very much  encouraged by Rachel's calm presence, I felt confident in the knowledge that any stumblings and hesitation would be edited out by Rachel’s audio engineering skills into something much smoother. And it was a good rehearsal for reading similar extracts at the launch.

I am even looking forward to hearing my own twenty minute podcast when it’s ready in a week or so's time/ I will put a link here on Lifetwicetasted so you might like to hear it yourself and tell me what you think..

I chose to read three five-minute extracts from the opening chapters of Writing at the Maison Bleu. The first extract (below)  introduces Joe, the youngest participator in the writing retreat on the banks of the Canal du Midi which has members of all ages, right up the Francine, who is in her eighties.


But first, here is Joe...


Joe

...It was on Giro day when the Award letter came through Joe’s door. He celebrated his award with his girlfriend Lolla at the Black Bull - their usual meeting place on a corner at a decent distance from their respective hostels.
‘A thousand quid? Y..yum! ’ Lolla smacked her pouting lips – not really a pretty sight. ‘We can celebrate on that, Joe.’ For Lolla celebrating meant something serious up her nose or down her throat. At least, thought Joe, she did this in a quiet fashion. She had told him more than once that she hated anything vulgar. There were people around them who were vulgar. And that, she said, was the worst thing in the world.
Joe shook his head. ‘No cash, Loll. Really, like! Says here the Award covers the plane and this place on the river. Sunshine and writing. And talking.’ He frowned. ‘Dunno whether I’ll like that. Talking.’ He grinned, ‘Good job I got a passport.’
His social worker had got him a passport when Jonny Green, a singer who had been in the same care home before his rise to fame, had treated the present generation of kids there to a beach holiday in Spain. In the end Joe had not gone because he’d been in a fight and was seen to have blotted his copybook.
Now Lolla pouted, her eyes gleaming through the long blackened lashes that flapped against her fringe. ‘Not fair, that, Joey. You should see some cash shouldn’t yer? Won the competition didn’t yer?’
Until today he hadn’t talked very much about his writing with Lolla until today The writing was mostly his private thing.
In his heart of hearts Joe agreed with Lolla. He wondered if all the winners of the Room to Write Awards got their prize in vouchers and tickets. Or was it just those who like him  lived in temporary hostels?  Maybe it was like clothes vouchers for the needy.  He knew he was not as needy as some of his other acquaintances. He was lucky. Drugs had turned out to be not his bag. It was a fact that drugs had been pushed onto him in prison when things became hard. And it was true that when he got out he was still using. But he’d been rescued from sliding down that road by a guy called Cragan, whom he met in the Black Bull. Cragan helped him to get off the gear for good. These days even the thought of the gear made him gag. He stuck to bottled beer.
Cragan – a strange, uneasy sort of man - turned out to be some kind of a counsellor or psych. At first Joe thought the older man was hitting on him. After ten minutes in his company it was clear to Joe that he was not. Several conversations with Cragan at the bar of the Black Bull finally convinced Joe that he really didn’t have an addictive personality. He’d just been having a very bad time in his life and was self-medicating.
After a while this made sense to Joe and he just stopped using drugs at all. It took three months but in the end it was like gradually switching on a bright, irritating light and seeing things as they really were. After that Joe felt he could hear, smell and taste like a new-born and life was better.
In those months Joe got himself clean Cragan was a regular here in the Black Bull. A tacit kind of trust grew up between them. In the end Joe began to show Cragan some of his pages, some scribbled in his own hand, some typed on library computers. Then, in the week of their last meeting Cragan had brought him a pile of novels - battered paperbacks, mostly American writers. As he put the pile of books on the stained pub table he told Joe that he was going away to America to take up this job in a psychiatric hospital. Then, out of his bag he pulled a battered laptop computer. ‘Old one, kiddo. Surplus to requirements. Thought you could use it. Save you all those trips to the library.’
Joe was a regular at the library, surfing the Net and transcribing his stories.
After he’d left England Cragan sent Joe the odd email with articles attached but Joe never saw him again. He had settled down, though, read Cragan’s books, line by line; some of them more than once. And as he read them it was as though Cragan were still there, smelling of cigarettes in the Black Bull, and arguing the toss.
Joe felt an affinity with the people in the stories - people getting lost, getting high, grafting on the streets, dreaming their lives away. There were even people like himself, who were fighting to keep their heads above water. All this reading made Joe write like he’d never written before.

‘Joe!’ Lolla was drawing lines in the steam on her cold glass. ‘Can’t see why anybody could get money for a few pages of words,’ she said. ‘Not like me grafting, or you getting coins for playing your guitar at the station, or nothing.’
‘It’s just like grafting with a pencil, Lolla! Lying with intent,’ he said, watching her finger move up and down the glass. Her nails were short and bitten but they gleamed with the residue of blood red polish.
‘Whatever,’ she said, now rubbing her finger up and down the sleeve of her jumper.
‘Whatever! Don’t know that my mate Cragan would see it like that.’
She grinned widely, and her face lit up in that way Joe really liked. ‘Good thing the old boy saw it like he did though, emailing you that competition link all the way from America. An English competition! From America. God bless the Net!’ She lifted her glass, slurped off the last of her lager and looked at him expectantly.
Joe picked up her glass and took it to the bar. He liked Lolla. She was uncomplicated. She liked company and adored chattering away, mostly to or about herself. She didn’t mind the odd sexual roll but was not really needy. She told him frankly when they first met that she could take it or leave it. ‘Mostly I think fucking’s overrated,’ she said firmly. He had the feeling she’d had some bad experiences in that department and left it at that....

Links for You



Monday, 23 March 2015

A Lovely Package of Poems

A lovely package dropped through my post box today - a chapbook of poems written by American poet Anne Grenier.  It is handmade, beautifully designed book. My inscribed copy is Number 14 of 111.


I first met Anne when she wrote a poem called Breaking Through, set in Escomb, a Saxon village near here and we broadcast her poem on our local Bishop FM radio
programme #The Writing Game.

Ann  certainly broke through time with that poem - set more than a thousand years ago and thousands of miles distant from her Rhode Island Home.

I am delighted to see that this poem finds a place in Ann’s chapbook Where Time Dropped Me Off

Many of Ann’s poems reflect on her mindful life in her house among woods and gardens around her home in Rhode Island. She writes from what she calls ‘a restless alchemy of viewpoints`
‘…
 A feast in a fire-lit room full of sparks,
ticking clocks and old leather, burnished
and bruised; pressed together forever in
indent of stars, stamped in bronze with a cross
sealed in a century, haunted and thrilled
by whispering chant and bells of descent
 (From The Gamekeeper)

‘…
She’s right. Forget what used to be.
Get out of this musty old shop,
leaving finger prints in the dust.
The only thing alive is a little girl
In a movie world, humming a tune;
A sleeping beauty – a forest of dreams .
A young woman unpacks old memories,
a heat on her back tattooed with thorns
…’
From  A Two Dollar Princess

 


As a writer of prose fiction where I speculate about time  it has been so refreshing to read Ann’s poetry  in  Where Time Dropped Me Off ' WX


Links for you.

Ann’s Website   (Lovely site...) 

Monday, 16 March 2015

Anna Akhmatove and Writing Under Pressure.

anna-akhmatova-1922.jpg (537×745)

Anna 1922

Click for more  images of Anna A.


To cheer me up (there are reasons...) in the days between my birthday and Mother's Day,   @lickedspoon sent me a copy of this poem by Anna Akhmatova.  
She (D) and I visited the home of this iconic Russian poet in 1991, just after the Yeltsin Revolution. *

In her narrow room my daughter and I thought about Anna A, who was now at last being venerated for her determined pursuit of her art and her right to create it. There had been a time when she was declared a non-person with no papers and no rights but survived and worked on, sheltered by brave friends.  Her work, fated to be destroyed on paper, survives because her friends and followers learned all her poems by heart, word for word.  

Reading Akhmatova's wonderful, uplifting poem here, and thinking about her pressured but luminously creative life I think again about contemporary writers (myself sometimes included...) who rather go on about the way we are treated by the distressed end of the publishing industry.


I also feel humbled by having a daughter who knew just how to remind me of all this.


When I Write Poems

Anna Akhmatova 

When I’m embraced by airy inspiration,
I am a bridge between the sky and earth.
Of all what heart high-values in creation
I am a king, when breathing with a verse!

Just if my soul wishes it, my fairy,
I shall give you the peaceful coast band,
Where, with a hum, the pinky sea is carrying
The dreaming tide to reach the dreaming land.

I can do all, just trust in me: I’m mighty;
I have the roots for kindness and for love;
And if I want, from clouds and from the lightning
I’ll make a cover your sweet bed above.

And I can, dear, create a word such special,
That it would change laws of the whole world,
To call again its own celebration
And stop the sun from fall in the night cold.

I’m all another in my inspiration,
I am a bridge between the sky and earth.
Of all what heart high-values in creation
I am a king, when breathing with a verse!




Her Desk  

Click for an insight into her life.

* That visit inspired my novel Journey to Moscow. But that's another story.

Thursday, 12 March 2015

Channelling Francine: A Celebration for writing and Writers

Channelling Francine: A Celebration of Writing and Writers.

For most of the time of its writing my  new novel Writing at the Maison Bleue was called Francine, after a character of that name 

The story is about a group of very different writers, men and women, young and old…

‘…But at the heart of this disparate group is Francine, a gentle, intelligent woman, who grew up in occupied France during WW2. She is frail but has never lost the power and truth of her writing and she has one last story to 'tell'. A truly fascinating read. Don't miss it…’ Amazon Review.

Francine – Writing at the Maison Bleue -  is now available on Kindle. My friends Gillian and Avril and I celebrated this momentous event on Tuesday (my birthday!) with a sparkling afternoon tea at Whitworth Hall,  an old RoomToWrite stamping ground.

So, channelling the elegant Francine, I decided to wear a hat.
As you see…




Sunday, 8 March 2015

Celebrating Julia on International Women's Day

Chris , Liz,   Kris,  Sue,  Eleanor,  Linda, Rachel, Amanda, Rosie,   Hilary, Eileen, Rachel (2) Avril, Gillian and Wendy – all  eager writers at Lafkaido Centre in Durham,  anticipating International Women’s Day with this celebratory playwriting workshop hosted by  RoomtoWrite.  


This workshop was offered by our friend playwright Anne Ousby, to honour the
memory of the multi-talented Julia Darling. We began by talking a little about our various memories of meeting Julia – of learning from and  being inspired by  this charismatic writer.

As for me, I first met her when I presented her with the money prize for a competition which I had judged, I did not know or know of her then her at all then, Today I quoted  from a blog post I wrote in 2009 in which I recalled our association through the years. This post is printed in full after below here..

This  great group of interested and variously experienced writers, encouraged by Anne, we  set about writing our fragmentary plays. Based on the idea of the Rendezvous Café – a favourite place of Julia’s in Whitley Bay.

For my contribution I adapted a scene from Writing at the Maison Bleue *
into a playlet. (I did this in tribute  to Julia who always took the risk of participating in her own workshops. (You will note this from the original blogposr which I have printed in full at the end of this one.)  
*HERE as en eBook ** HERE as a book

Joe, 19, just out of care meets his friend streetwise friend Lolla in a café, He comes in holding a big envelope

Lolla What’s this?
Joe  I jusr won this prize, like. Worth a grand.
Lolla: A thousand quid! Y—yum. Something to celebrate with, Joe..

(Joe knows that Lolla’s idea od celebrating os something up her nose, or down her throat.)

Joe. Nah you can’t do that.
Lolla. What can you do then?
Joe: You’ve gotta go to this place.
Lolla. What place?
Joe. This hot place by a canal.
Lolla  My Grandma lived by the Grand Union Canal over in Manchester, There, is it?
Joe: Nah this is in a hot place, There’s a picture of it. By a canal.  In  France.
Lolla. In France? Bloody Mike! You need a passport for France.
Joe. I gotta passport.
Lolla. Passport? You? You got no passport, Joe.
Joe Yes I do. They got is them once for this trip to Paris..Some charity gig. Help the poor.
Lolla: So this prize is to go to Paris?
Joe., Nah. Like I say it’s by this canal. Much further. Down by the Mediterratian Sea, it says..
Lolla: So you gotta go there?  To get this prize?
Joe: Aye. I gotta go there. This is the prize.’
Lolla; Not fair that, Joey, You should be seeing some cash. That’s what prizes are. for  Cash ….  

Outcomes
Based in the idea of the Rendezvous Cafe the dramas and plays that emerged from Ann's workshop were various in style and eclectic in subject matter. They all buzzed with life – and that difficult thing – laughter. They all had virtue. 

Our best hope was that  these enthusiastic writers moved on a step on their long writer’s odyssey. Their  work certainly paid homage to café culture and the inspiration of the unique Julia Darling.
                                        *********************************

From my blog 24th July 2009Café Culture, Julia Darling and things Overheard.


I relish the fact that writer Natalie Goldberg and my late, great, very lamented, friend Julia Darling have both, in their times, been great advocates of writing in cafes.

While I was in Agde in France I posted here a eulogistic piece about scribbling in the Cafe Plazza and the cafe on la Place de La Marine. In fact my delight in getting away from the desk, out into the street, into the inspiring neutrality of a cafe did not start in France. It is an old habit that I found I shared with Julia.
Julia was not just a great tutor, poet and playwright, she was a novelist and lyrical poet who wrung every last drop of joy and delight, love and affection, out of her writer’s life, before her tragically early death.

For several years she came here to give wildly popular workshops on her own and sometimes alongside me. Despite her great gifts she was modest and comradely - as well as merry, enabling and respectful of others’ talent. She always worked alongside the work-shoppers, never sat on a pedestal above them. She risked herself alongside them in the read-around, saying, ‘Well this is mad, but…’

Julia was the mistress of original, telling, firecracker metaphors and knew the magic of the right word in the right place. The work-shoppers would go off inspired to write closer, to do better.

When lunchtime came around she’d rush off, either to swim, or go to the nuts and bolts cafe near the old Post Office. She did this for rest, for refreshment, and inevitably, for inspiration from the other tables, where bin men and office workers would stoke themselves up with cake or a good fry-up for the afternoon’s work. Things overheard there would be filed away in that considerable intelligence and become natural resource for her in her writing. She had a sympathetic and an empathetic ear for the natural dialogue of so called ordinary people.

This is interesting, as although she was a bit of a maverick, she came from a distinctive upper class intellectual background. But she was uniquely classless in her apprehension of the life and people around her - so very refreshing in writing circles that can be riddled with all kinds of snobbery.
Much has been made of the graceful and poetic way in which she tackled the process of dying - writing of its challenges with frighteningly forensic insight and luminous grace. To be honest, though I prefer to think of her in terms of the way she lived. She was a joy to be with, wryly witty and always kind. She was inspirational and prepared to be inspired. She lit up any room she was in with her broad smile and wide eyes.

In my own cafe sojourns eavesdropping is of secondary importance to a clear table not far from the window and staff who will both take care of me and ignore me. Mostly I sit here and fill my diary with plans; make both creative and practical lists; draft these posts for my blog; scribble the next chapter for At The Villa d’Estella; read a heavy tome about ‘Gaul in Antiquity’ for said novel. And so on.

These times away from the desk are essential for someone who works from home. Surrounded by strangers, I work very quickly, get a great deal done. (I’ve been thinking that this perpetual desire to get away has something to do with my Pisces star sign, which I wrote about recently…)

But yesterday as I was walking to the cafe I passed two men talking. One man was saying to the other. ‘…and as well as that I’ve got this cancer ripping away at my insides…’ This so perfectly expressed a combination of anger and stoicism that it made me want to cry.

And it made me think again about the exceptional and radiant Julia Darling
.
WX
(AFTERNOTE I see now that Julia’s star sign was Leo - Generous and warm-hearted - Creative and enthusiastic - Broad-minded and expansive - Faithful and loving. But her sign tipped into Virgo - Modest and shy - Meticulous and reliable - Practical and diligent -Intelligent and analytical. I am thinking about all this because my mind if full of Stella, the astrologer in my new novel. But thinking now about Julia, all this fits…)



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