28 July 2016
Ted and I are coming to the end of a two-week stay at Hawkwood College, Stroud as Writer (and Dog) In Residence. Our room is on the first floor at the far left of the building with one window overlooking the courtyard and another (just visible in the picture, below the lower gable) at the front of the house with views across the valley.
When Alicia Carey, the Principal contacted me in January to ask if I’d like to come, I knew straight away that I wanted to use the opportunity to see if I could make a book about bereavement from the 30,000 words of memoir, 150 blogs and 40 poems I’ve written since Chris died.
Over the past 18 months, many of you have encouraged me to share the account of my journey more widely because you found it moving and helpful to read when confronting your own losses and disappointments. I’m so grateful for your support for me personally and as a writer.
I recently found a publisher who is also interested in the idea and, for the past fortnight, I’ve been wrestling with how I might offer my experience of bereavement, not as an expert guide, but as a fellow traveller doing my best to make sense of things that most of us will experience at some time in our lives.
A book has begun to take shape that I hope might become a good companion for others also living through the pain and confusion of bereavement. Re-visiting the time of Chris’s illness and death, has been tough but I as I commit my story to the page I hold it more lightly: the act of writing is both a means to remember and a way of letting go. It’s one way I mourn her loss.
I’ll continue the process when Ted and I go on holiday to Ireland next week. By the end of the summer, I should have something to show the publisher and, with a bit of luck, I’ll have a completed manuscript by the autumn.
Wish me luck!