In my fiction writing workshops I suggest that the narrative of a truly engaging novel should be unpredictable as it unfolds, yet seem inevitable in retrospect. The older I get, the more convinced I become that the same thing might be said about the course of life itself. Already almost nine years older than the allotted span, and contemplating both the onset of my eighties and my forthcoming mortality, I’m delighted to say that life continues to surprise me.
In the past month, after five years spent confined to my Somerset home by full-time care for my late wife, Phoebe Clare, I have travelled abroad twice: firstly, to a handsome villa set in the woods and hills of Catalonia where I mentored a lively and productive writing retreat; and secondly, on a brief, leisurely vacation in the magical limestone terrain around Les Baux in Provence, a place which has long been close to the heartland of my imagination. The retreat brought me back into close contact with the always invigorating company of other writers, while the holiday gave me ample space in which to exhale those years of tension and grief, and allow my imaginative life to expand again.
Meanwhile I am just completing work on gathering together the occasional pieces I’ve published over the years, along with some provocative new writing. The result – a book titled Green Man Dreaming – will be published by Awen Publications (who released my poem-sequence A Dance with Hermes in 2016) later this year. At the same time, work on this new website splendidly designed by my good friend, the novelist Robert Woodshaw, has provided an opportunity to review the past course of my writing career while also opening a window on future prospects. I hope that by the end of this year this blog will report that I’m making good progress on a new novel which was begun a long time ago but lay rusting on the stocks in the years when I was preoccupied with care for my wife.
All of these developments, arriving unexpectedly at this late stage, have given me the happy sense of entering a completely new phase of my life. I hope and intend to make the most of it before I leave.