Saturday, 21 May 2016


I am on a train to Berwick upon Tweed at the moment, and am eating smoked salmon sandwiches and drinking gin and tonic. I am in First Class, because there was a special offer. It is very exciting. I have free wifi, and free food and drink and I am on my way to Lindisfarne, where I will stay for 3 nights and visit the castle and work on my edits of my (finished and submitted) novel set there and check I have the location details completely right (I worked from maps and memory).  I felt a little daunted about this trip and being so far away from home, but so far so good. I couldn’t go the first time I booked this trip because I was ill, but now, second time around, I am having a lovely time.

A few weeks ago I went to Hackney, to Millfield Community school, and talked to children about my first novel, ‘Girl with a White Dog’. I should have gone a few months ago, but again, around the same time I had to cancel the first Lindisfarne trip, I was ill and had to cancel this visit too. The date was rearranged by the charity which had asked me to go (and was paying me). As the new date approached I was bit daunted, but it was one of the most rewarding and fun days I have ever had. The children were so enthusiastic and engaged and excited about meeting a writer and the staff were so welcoming. I really admired them all.  At one point I couldn’t speak because I thought I would cry. I got the most lovely letters and cards afterwards which I will keep all my life. I am even getting paid for it! I had a lovely time.

Then, a week later, I was back in London talking about my second MG novel ‘Dog Ears’, because children in Lambeth had voted it on to the shortlist of the Phoenix Book Awards. I was so moved to see children stand up on stage and act out a scene from it, and also read out why they wanted it to win. I also met a lovely author, Jane Elson,  whose book ‘ How to Fly with Broken Wings’ was also shortlisted. Neither of us won, but we sold lots of books and signed lots, and just had a really lovely, lovely time meeting the librarians, teachers and children. One of the girls gave me a beautiful bracelet I will cherish, and I felt so, so happy to meet the actual readers of my books, and to find out that ‘Dog Ears’ had meant so much to a group of London girls from such different backgrounds to mine.

I want to write this because the writing life can be hard. We can all worry about money, and ideas, and sales, and whether we are good enough. But sometimes it is just wonderful. 

And above all, it is the writing. I love it. I have so many ideas and I have so many books I want to write. I feel so, so lucky that at the age of 51 I have a job where my job is to think of stories. I have been imagining stories all my life - I have been writing all my life - and it is so, so lovely to find that I now have a lovely agent and publishers and readers who are pleased I am doing it. What I love doing makes other people happy - how wonderful is that?

So this is a post about being grateful and happy. The writing life can be lonely and worrying and the sensitivity of writers can work against us. Today I have lots of ideas - tomorrow I may doubt them. We can imagine bad things very easily.

But today I am not going to let myself imagine bad things - I am going to  imagine only good things - publishing deals and lovely books and  readers. I am going to sit in my first class carriage and enjoy every minute. I am having a lovely time.

Jane Elson and I having a lovely time!


Lynne Benton said...

Good for you, Anne - keep up the good work! And have a great time on Lindisfarne. A writer's lot can be such a happy one, especially with a positive attitude like yours.

Joan Lennon said...


Frances Brown said...

Such a positive spin on an emotive subject. Good for you Anne.

Frances Brown said...

Such a positive spin on an emotive subject. Good for you Anne.

Philip Davies said...

Well done, Anne. It's so easy to complain and be cynical, but that negativity is destructive. Like you, I'm also having a lovely time at the moment, mostly because of school visits and book awards. We need to remind ourselves of the wonderful privilege it is to be writers, and to cherish every little success and encouragement.