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Checking my desk diary, I see the number “99” – circled. (I was never going to make a thing of an even number now was I?) Day ninety-nine then, in my personal cycle of hibernation & I also checked how long it’s been since I wrote anything here. Two guest posts notwithstanding, the last time I scribbled a word about my writing was 26 April!

Nine weeks then & I’m still avoiding words like ‘isolation’ & ‘lockdown’ simply because I feel neither isolated nor locked down. After however many weeks ninety-nine days add up to, some days I do feel alone. And much as I insist (truthfully) that being this way is second nature to me – I’m a writer, it’s what we do – ninety-nine days in, I’m missing certain people.

Mrs Woolf had a few perfect words for it. On the matter of ‘certain friends’ she wrote: I love them when they aren’t there – they leave beautiful spaces behind them.’

Family notwithstanding (when I finally get to hug my daughter, she will need to check her ribs) it’s my friends I miss. Not least the ones who write, those whose idea of heaven is hanging out, over tea & cake, nattering about writing.

With the plot of my newest endeavour flinging itself off on the inevitable tangents, I miss my writing group so much, Thursdays now feel like lost days. Not entirely – Janey (Eliza Jane Tulley) & I converse regularly. But it is never going to be the same as sitting opposite one another in our favourite cafe, notebooks on the side, ready to disseminate our latest offerings. That ‘beautiful space’ at our special table, is hers & mine.

And so I press on – by myself – occasionally startled by the moments my imagination conjures for this new story. It’s so off the wall quirky anyway, the digressions barely faze me. Being able to explain them (or ask Janey for her input) is still a true frustration.

Okay – this new one. I was going to say I thought long & hard about writing a story largely in First Person Present. It isn’t true. I thought about not doing it for as long as it took to rewrite the first chapter in Third Person & realise my instinct was right. FPP it is. And I love it. It’s challenging & even though the going is far, far slower than I first envisioned, I am making progress with my quirky story.

Image © Adam Oehlers

It too takes up a beautiful space, the writing space I have to fill because not writing isn’t an option. A space I know, were she around to see me loving this story, Janey would get.