Saturday, 28 September 2013

Living in the past

I am a master of self doubt, procrastination and indecision. These are the three things which probably propel me into the fantasy worlds I create with the books I write. That isn't necessarily a bad thing...but I reach overdrive quite quickly and rush to hide in my fantasy world to avoid the "real" things that worry or concern me.

I have been troubled for months about the books for instance. I want them to be accepted, enjoyed and to reach a much wider audience. However, this is proving very difficult and I become quite frustrated. So I retreat to avoid looking at marketing strategies-which I hate!

My children say I live in the past and am too absorbed with history and the "olden days", but I don't see this as a bad thing, because it is a wonderful diversion. Today we were at Eskdale Show, which is held in one of my favourite places. I was first introduced to it on Sunday Schools trips in the 1960s. We used to catch a train from Barrow station to Ravenglass, walk across the bridge to the station for L'ile Ratty-the miniature narrow gauge railway to Boot in Eskdale. At the terminus-Dale Garth we alighted and went down into the field behind the station-which is much reduced these days to accommodate the motor cars which inundate the place. When we went, there were no cars usually, because everyone went via the Ratty-which is surely the whole point? We all had picnics on the grass, paddled in the river and played communal games until it was time to pack up and make the return journey home again. This went on for many years as it seemed to be the preferred venue for St Perran's church and it was wonderful...except for one year!

Mum and Dad got us ready, packed the picnic and we raced down to Roose station to catch the train-with my baby sister in the pram (they would travel in the guards van)...we reached the platform to find....the train had left...without us! Dad swore, Mum looked deflated and I cried (I was 7). We trudged home again and as a treat we had the picnic on the floor in the lounge...which didn't actually have a settee at this time as we had just moved and it hadn't been delivered yet! We cheered a little and then something terrible happened! My secret prayer had been began to rain! By 3 o' clock it was torrential. We all knew what it would be like at Eskdale....wet...wet...wet! I commiserated with my parents about the trip being ruined...but a little tiny-if guilty part of me, was just a little bit pleased!

I remembered this today and mused about past Eskdale Shows-which I knew my great Granny Elizabeth Hodgson from Penny Hill Farm, Boot has experienced. My dad told me many tales about the short rather plump little woman I had seen in photos (so -we know where I got those genes from!). She had been born and bred in Boot and had told her grandson-my dad tales of the Shows and Meets when she was allowed to help. Apparently in return for the help at the King of Prussia pub-now the George IV -(the name change at the start of the Great War) she and the other young people were allowed to riddle the sawdust on the floor for dropped change. This story has fallen into family folklore-and I don't know how accurate it was-but one year she was lucky enough to find a sovereign for her trouble!

I smiled to myself whilst I was standing at my book stall today when I thought of these memories and stories. I wondered what she would have thought of her great granddaughter selling her own books-and it made me think. Even if the range of the books remains "local"-does it really matter? While I am waiting to be "discovered" by a mega publisher, or Melvyn Bragg tweets about my "Cumbrian" stories I can still enjoy sharing them, writing them and talking to children about them. Perhaps, that's all I need to do...enjoy? After all, it has provided a very different and varied life style since I took up the life of an "author"-so I will do what I can and stop being paralysed by the necessity for marketing and the anxiety of promotion and instead I will reach the audience I can, and start to enjoy the fantasy, the writing and the pure escapism it all provides. 

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