This Never-ending Summer

Here in the north we're not used to it.  'Four seasons in one day', the saying goes and it's usually true.  But this year . . .   I can go out without taking a coat or an umbrella. I can wear clothes suitable for a Mediterranean holiday.  We plan picnics and barbecues without bothering to have a Plan B.  And the summer goes on and on and on.

The Girl and The Butterfly - it's that kind of summer
My writing room is in the roof under the slates, with two big skylights.  It's been like Death Valley by mid-day even with a fan.  Hot air stirred is still hot.  I'm trying to edit a book, but it's not going well. The collection of stories I'm working on is set in Italy, so I should feel quite at home! This collection is quite tricky because the 12 stories aren't quite stand-alone - the sub-title is '12 people, 12 stories, a year in the life of a small Italian town'.  There are 12 main characters and the action takes place in the Piazza across 12 months.  They each have their own story, but they also walk in and out of each other's.  And there's a chorus of Beautiful Girls and Albanian Boys.  Whether it works or not, I don't know. But these stories are based on my two decades of Italian experience, particularly the 3 years I spent living there rather than just visiting, and the hours I spent in the Piazza, watching people. It's one of my favourite occupations.

The life of a writer is very odd, because it has so many different facets.  There's research (which can be almost anything you do!), actual writing of words, editing, proof-reading, publicity, public events such as talks and book-signings, running writer's workshops, reading groups, attending conferences, going to business meetings with publishers and agents, struggling with accounts, hawking your books around book shops, and swanning around at literary award 'do's' in a posh frock.  It must be one of the most fragmentary occupations on earth - not so much a job as a way of life.

In the last month I've been to two conferences related to books I've written and a literary award ceremony to cheer on friends who'd been nominated.   I managed to win a bottle of champagne in a raffle, which is currently chilling in the fridge waiting for an excuse!  The reading group I've been running for 3 years came to an end last week and it was a very sad parting of the ways.  I was very touched to be given cards and flowers and presents - they were a terrific group.  Writers need readers and they were the best.

Behind the scenes is the quiet struggle to maintain family life and still have enough time to write the stuff that's bursting to get out.  I have a partner and a teenager who need to be reminded that I exist now and then.  Friends need to be cooked and catered for. This week we had two friends from Italy to stay - lovely meals, days out in the Lake District and lots of wine.

This week I'm in London to help Neil deliver a sculpture to an exhibition and then down to Kent to watch 2 little granddaughters dance in a ballet show.  I'm exhausted just describing it all.  Perhaps I should just give up writing and go and lie in the garden in the sun! 


  1. Like you I am enjoying this unlikely flush of hot weather here in the North Kathleen. I identify with so muchthat you mention here in your post. , I am intrigued by the ideas underlying your new book and am so looking forward to reading it. A refreshing read, I think. Wendyx

  2. PS I love the cover and the title of your book.


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