Something sensational to read in the train.
‘I never travel without my diary. One should always have something sensational to read in the train.’ In that respect and in that only I am like Gwendolen in The Importance of Being Earnest.
I first began to write a journal when I wrote my first novel. I am now onto notebook 25. I don’t write in it every day – far from it – but still it has become an essential part of my life. At first it was a matter of jotting down ideas or snatches of conversation overheard in café or an account of something that had happened that might one day be incorporated into a novel or story. Or I might sketch out the draft of a short story or write a piece of dialogue or a descriptive paragraph or two if they came to me while I was away from home. For, like Gwendolen, I always have my journal with me.
Over the years I began to record more personal stuff – such as how I felt about major events in my life, like the death of my mother. Above all I started to keep an account of our family holidays, in particular our many trips to Northern France over the last eight years. And now I am so glad that I did. Reading about them is a comfort and a way of visiting the life that I shared with Peter. Often, too, what I have written triggers other precious memories of things that I didn’t record.
I would encourage anyone, not just writers, to keep a journal. So much disappears as one moves forward in time, and is lost forever. But some can be saved: it need not all quite vanish.
The photograph is of me and Peter on the ramparts at Montreuil in Pas-de-Calais.