I am writing books. Not only my first three (a series of MBS – the next two in the series after ‘Trapped’ being publication ready) but now fiction, which, despite everything, is fictional, rather than invented. It is about realistic women and men, their frailties and weaknesses, as well as their triumphs. Though I often find myself taking shelter from harsh realities of life – and have often read to escape – I have always believed in portraying all my characters as convincingly as possible. I hope they do sound and feel true to life. I could not write about a pasha or a woman seduced by the Sheikh of Arabia, because, apart from empathising with the human condition I know little about life in a harem.
I have entered a very determined phase in the writing, in which I can see, and know I can write, three or four books in a series of books about women of a certain age who are having to navigate domestic responsibilities, work challenges, and caring duties that, a generation ago, would have been shouldered by a wider extended family, but these days, increasingly fall on the shoulders of one or two individuals.
And what have I learned in the last few months? That we all try our best; that human lives are filled with broken dreams, with hopes that die in bud, with ideals that are warped by the pressures of the daily grind. But, in the midst of the daily grind we have a responsibility to be gentle and forgiving with each other, to take on the responsibilities as well as the joys of love; and to live each day as a gift, which it is. Above the clouds, the sun is always shining. During each second that we breathe, we can take a stand for what we believe in. We can declare for all the world to see, our right to be wrong, to be frail and sad, but also to be cheerful and pleased with life. To regret is not weakness, but a chance to try again differently. To mourn is not to lose, but to love more completely. To write about characters who are flawed, and lovable, is only to reflect the reality of life, even if we dismiss what we write as ‘women’s fiction’ or ‘chic lit’ which must, always, have a happy ending. Of course it must. All my fiction does.