It's the first day of the rest of my life and, once I have taken Zoe and Zelda home, I'm going to start on the re-write of my book. I haven't touched it for the last three months while I have been working with horses again. For homework I have read The Real James Herriott, by his son Jim Wight, which reveals that James Herriott's books were a combination of truth and fiction that sometimes he regretted and sometimes he was caused to regret. Of course he was massively successful. I've read through several Gervaise Phin books, formulaic but fun. I could predict how each chapter would start, with a description of the countryside, the school, the teachers, and then finish with a punchline spoken by a small dour child. Utterly readable and highly successful. My favourite, however, was A Year in the Life of the Yorkshire Shepherdess, which was so natural in every sense of the word, and authentic. I'm no great fan of hoards of children but she shepherds them as easily as her sheep, and...oh, but I'd be telling you the plot.
Finally I am reading The Shepherd's Life, A Tale of the Lake District, which is more a lesson in the nature of people, and the way they see (and think they own) the countryside, as it is in writing. His words echo my feelings about the New Forest and the way the land has to be managed in spite of the visitors, in spite of the commuters, and in spite of being undermined at times by the Forestry Commission and the National Park Authority.
Just the thought of writing feels me with queasy anticipation but I already have a good start having spent the three months with the pins in my thumb writing every day. It saved me from depression and uselessness! I feel I have an obligation to fulfill, to my Mum who did all my editing at the time, and to Karen who is going to be the most fantastic illustrator. Que sera sera - or should that be K, Sarah, Sarah?