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… you become middle-aged and anonymous.
No one notices you.
You achieve
a wonderful freedom.’

This is a quote from Doris Lessing. A literary icon.

Doris Lessing

Her words have, for many years, resonated with me. I’ve liked the idea of being middle-aged and relatively anonymous – free to do as I like; invisible because I choose to be rather than because patriarchy insists. I don’t care for patriarchy and tend to ignore it. Not least when it tells me I’m now old therefore I don’t count. I am not, I tell it, old. I am older.

And at the age I am, I find myself a published author and unexpectedly in the limelight. Not the brilliance of the literati limelight – mine is of a lower wattage and tastefully shaded. But more visible I most certainly am. People I don’t know tell me they love my book and write wonderful reviews of it. (I have ten 5* Amazon ones now. And more besides, elsewhere.) For The Golden Notebook – Doris Lessing’s 1960s landmark masterpiece of literature – there are 75. This tells you more about Amazon than it does about Doris Lessing.

The point is, I am becoming known, albeit in a small way. My innate desire to remain anonymous is having to suck it up. New, young Ghostbird is flying high and having the time of both our lives, regardless of the difference in our ages. Being published was a moment of affirmation and cannot be adequately quantified or even described. I’ve tried and failed. I grin and tell people, ‘It’s amazing!’ Because it is and I am delighted by my little book and the responses to it.

The other night I went outside looking for stars. It was a perfect night and I found streams of them stretched across the sky, tracing starwords I could translate into anything I wanted. I decided a trail of them said, ‘Ghostbird’ and smiled. Yes, why not – it was my sky and my magic and I could make the starwords into anything I chose.

I came in from under the stars and found they were still there. Lying on my bed with my eyes tight closed I could see them, attached like a green, glowing constellation to my bedroom ceiling, and I was a child again.

 

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