~ Hazel Harps On

Making it Better

Sorry. I’m late. Not only for the New Month but also for the New Year. I accept no responsibility whatsoever. I blame it all on the flu. What an evil ogre it’s been! Shivers and sweats, weakness, aching muscles, depression…the works. Our fridge is still stuffed with post-Christmas goodies that neither of us have the appetite to eat, subsisting instead on a diet of lemon, honey and paracetamol. The nights are interrupted by bouts of unstoppable bronchial coughing. Even Purrsy is traumatised with all these noisy explosions that rock the bed and interrupt his beauty sleep.

How irritating it is to be so ill, especially when it goes on. And on. And on. I mean, what a waste of life! And how dare this flu have the cheek to strike when everything was going so well! When the harp-playing has met with such success and the novel-writing… well, I’m having to pinch myself a lot because it’s looking like my wildest dreams are coming true.

This was my diary from last year. When I bought the diary I needed that message on the cover quite badly. And good things DID happen. Some bad things happened too, of course. But being a writer is quite handy in that every bad thing counts as research. You keep on learning about human nature. You keep gathering insights which might well feed into the next story. Nothing is wasted. Maybe even the flu has its own little message to give.

My ultra-pathetic, flu-filled self was reading a very well-written and excellent novel last week… but I had to stop. It was just too depressing. The cruelty of some of the fictional characters really got to me. And I made this decision: Never, never will I seek to harrow my readers in this way. It’s easy to upset people and there are enough horrors going on in the world as it is. Novels are read by people who are ill, people who are grieving, people who crave, for whatever reason, to get away from their own lives for a bit. What we need is the hopeful and the uplifting. Apparently there is now a fashion for ‘up-lit’ and I’m glad it coincides with my own feelings about this. Of course, we don’t want to read frothy and inane books – you have to have struggles to make a story. But if you can come away from a book feeling better, what a gift that is!

So perhaps I do have a New Year’s Resolution after all: to really use that writing and music for the good; in the Beatles' words, to ‘take a sad song and make it better.’ No matter what else happens.

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