First published here: https://awfullybigblogadventure.blogspot.com
At the beginning of this crisis I felt so frightened for my family and friends and myself, and so worried about any of us getting ill and dying. I also felt completely overwhelmed by how impotent and useless I was, and how I could do nothing to stop there being so much suffering.
But I remembered that I have thought this before. I have thought this before in life in general about how people get ill and die, and innocent people suffer. I have thought it about the ongoing refugee crisis, about all the wars going on. I have thought this before about climate change, and about poverty and inequality and homelessness and abuse of people and animals. In some ways, heartbreakingly , all around the world and throughout history, it has been and is truly, a scary world.
But it ISN’T the whole story.
It’s a lovely world too.
Love and Goodness and Truth are everywhere. They are obvious every day in the work of doctors and nurses and care workers and hospital cleaners and physiotherapists and delivery drivers and teachers and shop assistants and priests and refuse collectors and police and social workers and paramedics and frontline workers at this time. They are also obvious in simple kindness, like my little neighbour chalking a rainbow outside my door, or neighbours dropping round vegetables or the local pub delivering food to those in quarantine, or my vicar organising online services, or a lady in my village taking requests and singing online to cheer people up, or volunteers like my husband’s brother and his wife who are involved in a community project where they cook nutritious meals from food donated by shops, which is then delivered throughout their community to people in need. They are obvious for me in my corner shop being open every day for our village, a life-line for us, especially those who can’t drive . Love and Goodness and Truth are obvious in fundraisers for PPE, and in the work of investigative journalists and honest politicians and hard working people right now campaigning for facts and honesty, for better conditions for workers at risk, for those in care homes.
They are also obvious in my friend looking after a traumatised rescue dog, or parents simply trying to look after children at home in difficult conditions, or people sharing recipes or funny or inspiring stories or videos online, or in friends just having fun on a Zoom Quiz or chatting at a social distance!
My French teacher at our local Adult Education College has been working so hard, and we have been able to go to French conversation class by Zoom, and that has been so lovely. Last week we were able to welcome back one of our friends and classmates who had been very ill in hospital with Covid-19. Our tutor is helping us emotionally and socially in so many more ways than just teaching us French, and I know other teachers and tutors are working so hard to keep people connected.
Here is my dog Ben trying to revise French:
I am so grateful for my dogs.
Beauty is normal too, obvious in bird song and clouds and trees and green grass and flowers , and hedgehogs and … in our writing! It’s so easy and normal to get overwhelmed, but we mustn’t forget (I am very much talking to myself here) that it is beautiful and worthwhile, even in, and maybe especially in, a scary world, to write books which make people laugh, or move them, or tell them interesting facts. It IS beautiful and worthwhile to entertain, to help people de-stress, to help them escape. I am so grateful to the actors and scriptwriters and producers and directors of the TV dramas and films I have been watching. I am so grateful to the musicians I have been listening to. They are getting me through lockdown.
I have friends and family sharing Art on facebook, and that is beautiful and part of normality too.
As children’s writers in particular , it is so wonderful and such a privilege that we can write anything at all which makes any child’s day in any way a bit better, which brings them Hope.
There have been some lovely recent blog posts in An Awfully Big Blog Adventure which have reminded us of this, and we have been prompted to think of how, as children, our lives were made better by our favourite books, and how even as adults, re-reading them brings comfort.
I recently got contacted out of the blue, during lockdown, by a mother who wrote that her daughter did not normally like reading and had suddenly fallen in love with reading through my Lucy books with OUP, illustrated by Sophy Williams. I know that this is something we all love when it happens. This certainly made me so happy and proud, and was perfect timing to encourage me. Her daughter has now written to me and sent me a photo (which I have permission to share and boast about!), and now I am helping her with an at-home project and have to answer questions about being an author! It has given me hope that being a writer, even in this scary world, DOES still have a point!
And , although I am completely sure I will have more bad days when I can’t write and feel useless and overwhelmed, and I will always worry about friends and family, today, I received something else which made me very happy and proud too.
Today I got my advance copies of my picture book ‘Bloom’ , part of Tiny Owl’s ‘Hope in a Scary World’ Series, a book about the power of love, illustrated by Robyn Wilson-Owen. I am so grateful to my agent Anne Clark and to Tiny Owl and Robyn-Wilson Owen, that together we have made something which we hope will make children feel better and more hopeful. The series ‘Hope in a Scary world’ was devised by Tiny Owl to help children, and I am so honoured to have a book accepted for it. Writing ‘Bloom’ for it, has ended up giving me, the adult writer, hope in a scary world too. I am given hope and am so inspired by the work of Tiny Owl, and by Robyn’s beautiful illustrations, and I am given hope in a scary world that as writers we too have a contribution to make, and we too CAN also do something, however small, to make things better, and that Love will always make things bloom.