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Monday 14th April 2003


It hasn’t rained for months! All my sunflower seedlings are drying up. Is this global warming or what?

I had a brilliant week away. I have realised that it doesn’t matter how much time I have, I only write for roughly four hours a day, but what does make the difference is not having anything else to do in between. I really enjoyed lying about in pools of sunlight thinking about my characters. Or not even thinking about the book, just being vague and dreamy. I did loads, and feel really connected with the new book now.

Today it was the academic’s writing group. We’ve been meeting for a long time now, and I look forward to the sessions which are every lunchtime once a fortnight. The group attracts all the nicest people from all over the university(!)…landscape gardeners, geographers,adminstrators, scientists, child psychologists. We meet up and write for half and hour, then read it out. Today we wrote about things that were found at the bottom of a lake. This was because Leazes Park Pond has just been dredged and there is a fascinating pile of muddy things in glass cases at the Museum of Antiquities. In the group we made up things, and one person wrote ‘six ornamental gnomes’ and nearly everyone wrote about these gnomes. Somebody said ‘Well, if you’d told me I would spend my lunch hour writing about gnomes I wouldn’t have come, but now I am so glad I did!”

It’s all quiet again now the students have drained away. Easter always takes me by surprise. I have the proof of Taxi Driver’s Daughter to read. It’s wierd now it’s a book, not a pile of paper. Books are such beautiful things.