Tuesday, 7 May 2013

The Great Escape

How was your weekend? I found these beautiful orchids on my desk when I sat down to work today - a gorgeous surprise from Bangkok. Here, the sun's out, the garden is blooming after the freak storms (including hail), and our resident pair of mynah birds are chattering and nesting. I loved hearing from the UK that the Bank Holiday was bright and sunny, and seeing people's photos of familiar parks and bluebell woods blazing with colour. It was a 'normal' weekend here - pilot in Thailand, two visits from the tooth fairy, a sick child finally back at school today. And work. I love the truth in this pin: 'a writer never has a vacation. Life consists of either writing or thinking about writing'.

There is no 'day off'. Writing and reading is as necessary as breathing to a writer. As you fall asleep, and the moment you wake, images and lines for a new story bloom in the quiet spaces of your consciousness. It's hard to imagine not having half your psyche filled with the chatter of fictional characters. 

Only when you are reading do you escape. Even then, half the time, you are noting how the writer did this, or that, and how to conjure up the effect. But reading is the great escape. This is why I was so glad to support 'Laysh?' a local initiative by TEDx to support literacy. It's something I feel passionately about - as I do about libraries. It's fun seeing 'The Perfume Garden' appearing on more and more sites, but the best one I have seen lately is a county library site in the south of the UK that has 80 copies, and a long list of 'on loan', 'on loan' ... Libraries have been a lifeline to me at various times of my life - as a broke student with an expensive reading habit, as a young mother where Saffron Walden library's children's section preserved a shred of sanity. I love libraries, and I love the idea that maybe these books are holding out that lifeline to someone who needs it now. There's been a lot of debate recently in the UK after 'Horrible Histories' Terry Deary said libraries have had their day. I'm with Julia Donaldson - libraries 'create readers'. As a non-resident Brit, I don't earn any PLR fees from these loans, (though bizarrely you can earn Irish PLR, and ALCS fees). It would be helpful, but I care more that the books are out there being lent and borrowed, and engaging readers.

Meanwhile, congratulations to all those who have won copies of 'The Perfume Garden', including: Aimie, Julie, Loise, Emily, Frankie, Claire, Marie, Natalie and Tasneen. Thank you to all of you who have entered. The blog tour continues today, at Liz Fenwick's blog where we are talking about 'running away'.

So, here's the thought for the day: have you ever run away? Comments below, or at Liz's post. Do you 'run away' into books, escaping into fictional worlds? Do you think libraries have had their day - or can they, and books, be the great escape?

Happy writing - and reading x

PS if you have young children, and would like to foster a love of reading, here's a tip: I convinced my children early on that going to the library was a treat. Being allowed to choose their own books, and borrow them was a *reward* for good behaviour. It works ;)


  1. If I may leave a general comment, this is one gorgeous blog. As to this specific post, reading and writing have always been the Great Escape for me. Who needs a motorcycle.

  2. Welcome Alan - and thank you. What an interesting site you have, too. If you'd ever like to do a guest post about memoir, you're always welcome here.


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