Archives for posts with tag: family

This week sees the publication of A Place for Everything– a book which has taken me almost seven years to bring out into the world. I started writing about my parents, and the struggles we as a family were facing, in my journal in 2013. The book will be published this Thursday, 9th July.

That 2013 journal became a blog called Good Grief which I started writing a year after my father died from an unusual and aggressive form of cancer just as my mother was being sectioned under the Mental Health Act for extreme anxiety.

Mum’s subsequent diagnosis of autism at the age of 72 had me trying out a longer piece of writing as a way of trying to make sense of everything we had been through as a family. I completed the manuscript of my memoir in 2018, the year my mother died. The book is out this week, almost two years to the day that I typed the final words of my first draft.

Not all books take this long to see the light of day. There have been times when I have wanted it see it on the shelves a lot sooner. However, I am glad this one has taken its time. In the past two years I have learned a lot about writing: about narrative structure, about setting the tone, about taking my readers with me on a journey that has been painful and a lot harder to write than any of my books for children. I have also learned a lot about myself. I have realised that my grief was mainly expressed in raw anger while I was writing down those first pages two years ago, but that now I am able to approach it in a more gentle and forgiving way.

That is partly why I have chosen the last chapter of the book to read to you in this video. It is a letter to my mother which I hope sums up my love for her and shows my readers that the anger has gone – and all that is left is love.

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My children are no longer children really – they are 19 and 21. This is the first time in a very long time that all of us have been together in the house for more than a few days. We had a family meeting the other night to talk about how we were going to get along and not annoy one another! One of the things we decided was that we needed to give each other space occasionally, so whereas in Normal Life I might ask them to be sociable in the evening, we agreed that if they wanted to go off and FaceTime their friends or watch their own choice of TV in their rooms, that’s OK.

However, we also all thought it would be nice to have some planned family time where we come together to do something fun. There was a lot of enthusiasm for a movie night with popcorn. Luckily we have some microwave popcorn in the cupboard. You might have this, or you might be able to get hold of some popping corn the next time someone does the shopping. If you can’t find either then ask what you are allowed to cook with or make snacks with – be creative! Maybe you could go for a complete picnic as in the suggestions below:

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Make the room comfy – make a den, or even put up a tent if you are allowed! Get beanbags and sofa cushions and rearrange the room to make it cosy for everyone. Then grab your snacks and settle down to a film that all the family will enjoy. Here’s hoping we can all agree on what we want to watch now…

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Nature Month-by-Month – a children’s almanac by Anna Wilson, illustrated by Elly Jahnz is published by Nosy Crow and The National Trust and is available to order online.

Your independent bookshop can take orders over the phone and post books out to you, too. Give them a call!