I gave one of my ‘out of print’ books that was lying around to a woman in a supermarket and have been surprised at the delight. It reminded me that instead of being part of the problem, hiding away and typing with my lap-top and bemoaning the fact that I can’t meet people and be energised by that, I, and all the other writers out there, are part of the solution. As Sullatober Dalton, I write the kind of book that is like a stroll with a friend – the ideal companion for lockdown. I was actually growing frustrated with rewriting and even thought of abandoning the projects but the comments in the supermarket have made me think again. It’s unfortunate that I chose this time to do the rewrites but I will push them as hard as I can. In general the rewrites are, luckily, not major plot changes but internal modifications, the kind of things that appear after leaving a bit of writing in to mature for several months, even years.
It’s easy to discount the contribution we make to each others well being and a week ago, I would have laughed at the idea that we writers were important to the nation’s health, but we are. When I am feeling down, I turn to something familiar, a book with characters who remind me of people I’ve known and whose company I have enjoyed. In some ways, that’s why I enjoy carrying a character into a sequel, I get to know them and want to share their new experience, even let them mutate and join me in another story. Miss Kirkhope is like that; a teacher who is determined to educate and bring out the best in people. She’s an amalgam of several teachers who did their best to educate me, rather than just teach a subject. Her own story, of how she tried to teach mining village children that poverty was not a necessary way of life, will come out when I have a chance to update it.