I’ve spent the last two years working harder than I’ve ever worked. I am a full time midwife, and I’ve been studying for an MA in Creative Writing and Publishing in my spare time. I’ve given up things. Sleep mainly. It’s past midnight now. I have stopped sewing, knitting, embroidery, playing the piano, and working on my garden. I miss them. When I finish the MA in July I will catch up on the housework, re-decorate my study and de-clutter the garage. There are so many things I want to do.
The reason I’ve given things up, like a prolonged Lent, is ‘the novel’. Ask any of the students on my course about ‘the novel’ and there is a particular expression that appears on their faces. A sort or pride and enthusiasm that is tempered by the new and dreadful understanding of editing and revision as a fierce and exacting process. Every word earns its place. Every full stop is placed with care.
My novel has had a variety of names, but for now, today, it is called This Place of Happiness. Sometimes it has been called Mokhi’s Girl and it started as Women of Algiers. It is a story of sisters. Amal goes to Algiers to find her missing father. Instead she finds an unexpected half sister, Rabia. They hear the story of two other sisters, Jamila and Fatima and through the voices of these women discover the story of women living in Algeria. They discover why their father went away, and the secret that affects them all.
I have only been able to do any of these things because of my amazing husband, Steve. When we got married the Pastor told us to ‘Guard against busy-ness.’ Advice that we didn’t mean to ignore. Steve is a Radiographer, and this year he is President of the Society of Radiographers. His goal has been to meet members, and to listen to them. He and I both know how important it is that people feel listened to. I think that that is the key to his amazing year. He will have been to Chicago, Vienna, Northern Ireland, Scotland and Canada among other places. For him it is always about the other person and he is always interested, and always trying to help in whatever way he can. He constantly amazes me. Our son Sam, who is in the last year of A Levels, is cut from the same cloth as his Dad and is a man to be proud of.
This website is part of the work for my MA studies. In my first series of blogs I want to explore the creative process of writing by comparing it to pregnancy and birth, relating it to my novel. I also want to write about Glass Heart Days.
Why Glass Hearts? I wear a glass heart on a chain round my neck. It has a line of silver through the middle, as if it has been broken and repaired. Glass Heart Days are for midwives, student midwives and maternity care assistants to find new ways to process and reflect on the things that are difficult and painful. It is about new ways of processing the emotional roller-coaster of midwifery. There are also Glass Heart Days for mothers, giving them an opportunity to look at their own birth story. This might mean they write about the experience of birth that they have never shared, or a love story to their baby about the day they were born. I am also planning Glass Heart Days for women experiencing the sadness of infertility. After experiencing five years of infertility myself I understand just how little support there is for women longing for a child of their own.
So that’s me… writer… mum… midwife…
I hope you enjoy reading about the things that matter to me. The things I’ve given my heart to.