Authonomy, the HarperCollins on-line community has closed, and I now know how lucky I have been, to be part of that. The friendships and companionship I found there have been incalculably valuable, the humour and shared solidarity irreplaceable and, for me, uniquely rewarding: With the best will in the world, hubby cannot console me when I am working away in the dead of night, on yet another scheme and hope. Across the airwaves I have found genuine understanding, love and empathy that has fuelled my hopes and kept them alive.

If I am ever invited to speak about my experiences of writing, I favour a very lose, informal beginning, something like, ‘If anyone had told me ten years ago, what I might expect to encounter when setting out on the writer’s journey, I would have run screaming in the opposite direction and not stopped until I had reached rural Italy!’ It is often just as well that we don’t know what’ ahead, and that life proceeds, one step at a time.

I wonder at my fear of authority, for example, that has often left me mute and desperate (yes, rather like the old joke of the boy at the public toilet holding a bent penny in his hand) while others have appeared to surge easily forward. Now I know two things. First, other people are just as fearful and as brave as me; and Second, that life will not fall apart if I ask for what I would like. Indeed, if I am fearless, I may find Life falling together rather well. I just have to locate the courage to ask simple questions, and proceed gracefully from there. Me? Graceful? I can be, apparently, just as we all can. Other people don’t make such a fuss, is all.

I am also deeply saddened at the death of one of my favourite authors, Judith Williamson, a long-standing and much valued member of Authonomy. I just finished reading her first novel, ‘The Mark’ written under her pen-name JL Fontaine. Numerous heartfelt tributes on Facebook and elsewhere testify to the deep love and esteem in which Judith was held.

I was so relieved to have found Judith’s book, and pleased to have become re-acquainted with writing which I can recommend unreservedly, for being empathic, careful and extremely thoughtfully set down. What a pity that Fontaine’s first offering, ‘Stonebird’ (about which there are still a few cache memory references to be found on the Web) has not been published. Now, there would be a project worthy of completion.

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