I find time to write every day. I scrutinise my calendar for that time. I borrow and steal minutes on buses and hours in cafes when I could be doing something else.
My mum taught me to read when I was 3 years old and gave me books all through my childhood. I know she read to me and and I am grateful to her for passing on that enthusiasm.
At secondary school I spent breaks and lunch times in the library. I was on my own a lot even then. I followed up on the recommendations my English literature teacher gave me and found book introductions telling me I must read certain classics: I made a list and worked my way through it. Wordsworth’s The Prelude, Plato’s Republic, Aligheri’s The Divine Comedy.
I ranged around Sevenoaks library and devoured them at home, returning each week to swap them after naughtily reading under the covers into the early hours. Tiring of the children’s section, I frequently read unsuitable tomes meant for grown-ups, naively not knowing what lurked behind the title. I covered the obvious ones with brown paper so I could read them on the coach on the way home from the swimming gala.
I read from my dad’s shelves – he went through a faze of ordering folio books which I am not sure he actually read, but I did!
It was normal to be given beautiful hard backs – how lucky I was! Here’s the Adventures of Odysseus after all those years, Alice of course, and When I Was Very Young (A A Milne).
I don’t think we had a book club at school as such, but I organised authors to visit us and we went on trips to hear others. My memory is hazy. I contributed to the school magazine: poetry and stuff.
Then I met Mark and he was reading Camus and Zola, so I did too. Even tried in French.
I knew I wanted to go to university to read Eng Lit, and was gutted when I was predicted such poor A Level results that I was recommended to try something else and ended up at dance college. In fact I did obtain good enough grades, but by then it was too late. It took me years to get over the sense that I had missed out on lectures and seminars, and being directed to study texts by good teachers.
Now, when I am not walking, and if I don’t have clients to see or the house to clean for guests, I am happy to write / research all day and have to remember to get up and stretch or I stiffen right up.
I do not distinguish between types of writing: sometimes it is a review, sometimes a document; it could be a specialist article, a travel blog, or a postcard to my daughter in London – it feels creative. It is certainly pleasurable. It almost always takes longer than I anticipated!
“Lock up your libraries if you like; but there is no gate, no lock, no bolt that you can set upon the freedom of my mind.” ― Virginia Woolf,
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