So, yesterday I snazzed up this blog, and by accident rather than design, I now have my name in the same font as on my books. I would like a more customised look, but that will have to wait until I can afford it. Nevertheless I think it now looks more professional, although I’m not sure what I’m actually blogging for – and especially who I’m blogging for. It’s meant to be mainly for my readers (book readers), but the book(s) need to be more widely read first, I think! I started blogging many years ago before there was even a glimmer of a published book on my horizon, but even then I didn’t know what it was for, and who might read it (no one, is the answer!).
Now I’m blogging because it seems that a writer should blog, only some of the things I could blog about don’t seem appropriate. I can’t blog at length about writing – I’ve seen so many fabulous blogs on that topic that I see little point in trying to compete – and I find it difficult to blog about personal matters. I admire many bloggers who can do that, and I enjoy reading their blogs very much, but I’m a little too introverted to follow suit.
I’ve thought about detailing the difficulties inherent in being a published author who isn’t earning much money – almost no money, in fact – but then I think about all the people who are struggling to be published at all, and how amazing it was when I was actually successful in finding a publisher, and I don’t want to sound ungrateful.
So in the end, this blog is about whatever takes my fancy. I have lots of interests and enthusiasms, although writing has been pretty all-consuming of late. Maybe I will blog more about those. Watch this space!
Back in early 2008 I had not long come home from my trip to New Zealand, and I’d really returned reluctantly (which is why I mention NZ so often!). I would have preferred to stay and look for work there, but as my parents were becoming more dependent I had to ditch any idea of living in another country, least of all one so far away. Instead, I consoled myself with the thought that I’d be going back there again soon, and I had anticipated going again that winter. It was fear of running out of money that somehow stayed my hand (and an error on the Emirates website when I actually booked a flight, but it failed).
Coldplay’s hit, Viva la Vida, came out during 2008 and I played it endlessly. It is still one of my favourite songs of all time. As 2008 moved into 2009 and I was stuck here in a grim British winter, I started to write The Dream, setting it in New Zealand as a way of keeping my own dream alive and allowing me to relive some of my experiences there. I vowed to myself that I would, eventually, drive down the roads near Dunedin, heading for Karitane, and I would be playing Viva la Vida as I did so. I imagined this so strongly, and so often, that it now feels as though I have actually done it! In my mind I have again driven down those hilly roads, usually in rainy weather (I think it must have rained most of the time I was in Dunedin) with Viva la Vida blasting out of the car stereo. In my mind I have again stood on the hill overlooking the Karitane beaches, basking in the sunshine and fresh air and the wonderful view.
Almost five years down the line I am no closer to getting back to New Zealand, but barely a day goes by that I don’t relive that fantasy, especially when I’m driving, and especially if Viva la Vida is playing on the car radio. I know I will make it eventually, but in the meantime there’s a lot to be said for imagination.
One thing that puzzled me when I returned from New Zealand almost five years ago was why isn’t Shrewsbury, like Christchurch, deluged with tourists? Christchurch is, or was pre-earthquakes, an attractive city with a small river, the Avon, some historic buildings, a popular tourist tram service, a botanical garden and a cathedral. Everyone knows what happened to that cathedral after the earthquakes, but when I was there it was intact and thriving, and the cathedral square and surrounding area were thronged with tourists.
Porthill Bridge, Shrewsbury
Then I returned to Shrewsbury and looked at my home town through new eyes. The River Severn is far larger and its river walks more impressive. The town’s buildings reek of its rich history, there are churches galore, many of them older by far than Christchurch’s cathedral, we have a castle, museums, a plethora of cafés and restaurants, and a large variety of interesting shops beyond the large chains. I wish we did have trams in Shrewsbury, but apart from those there is more here.
Grope Lane, Shrewsbury
So what, I wonder, is the difference? I can only conclude that New Zealand has fewer large cities and towns and the country itself is a popular tourist destination. In the UK, Shrewsbury looks like a backwater town, and there are many other scenic and attractive towns and cities to choose from. If it was in New Zealand I’m sure it would be very popular indeed.
It’s a bit of a shame for the several gift shops in Shrewsbury town centre that had catered for tourists for years but have recently closed down, though.