Another member of Julia’s creative writers’ group for ‘tired and busy people,’ I have spent the last few years working on a novel that is about to be published. Julia inspired me to begin; she encouraged me along the way while asking challenging questions about character and plot; she made me feel special for having produced a first draft (‘hardly anyone even gets to this stage!’) and she insisted that all agents are ‘terribly interested’ in unknown first novelists. When my magnum opus was soon rejected by agent after agent, Julia nodded sagely and said ‘oh I know, it’s terribly difficult for unknown first novelists to find an agent and publisher.’ Thank goodness she didn’t tell me that at the beginning – when I would surely have given up! That was Julia to me – so warm and encouraging, and generous with her attention and time.
Sean O’Brien wrote in his obituary that Julia inspired a sense of possibility – in writing and in life – among the many who encountered her. How true that has been in my case. I would only add that the way Julia lived her dying has been an inspiration as well.
Wherever you are Julia, I hope you’re at peace. I can well imagine you organising a writers’ group in Heaven’s waiting room.