Sheepdog on Holiday, Writer in Residence


Kainaat is on holiday. He has gone to Orford, a small, very old town on the River Ore by Orford Ness about 10 miles or so from where we live.


Of course he hasn’t gone alone, he can’t drive and anyway he isn’t allowed in the cottage by himself. So I have gone with him.

It is a bit like a holiday for me too, but not quite – think of it as a writing retreat.

old boat.jpg

“Oh a writing retreat” I hear you say with a slight sceptical tone “Is that like the writing retreat you went on two years ago when you went to Cornwall to the lovely cottage by the sea to finish writing a book?”

Well yes, actually it is. And I am working on finishing the same book.


“Oh so not much writing got done last time then?”

Actually quite a bit got done. I finished a draft, sent it to some good friends who gave me comments. I rewrote sections of it and then sat on it for a while before I worked up the courage to send it to a publisher. I sent it off, they liked it, it went through peer review and I got a contract. Now I am doing a few little rewrites, adding Ottoman transcription and that kind of thing.


“How many years can it take to write a book for goodness sake?”

Shall we say that this one has taken many, many years. I kept getting distracted by other books and writing. But the submission date is this Friday so let’s say it will get done. Not only is the fear on me now – which to be honest is the only thing that actually gets me to write. But I am finally ready to let it go. For years I sat on it as I wanted it to be perfect. However, I have finally learnt that I don’t need perfect any more. Good enough for the job it has to do, is good enough for me. Chasing an ideal of perfection that could never be achieved combined with a fear of failure kept me paralysed with anxiety which was a rubbish way to live.


So I am reading, editing and rewriting. Although to be fair I am also doing quite a bit of walking with the dog and visiting the Pump Street Bakery which is just round the corner……


N.B. There isn’t really an upside to having cancer. The endless operations and treatment was a bit of a pain and it has had long-lasting, pretty negative consequences. However, thinking you are going to die has a way of clarifying things. For me, it helped me start moving beyond my incapacitating anxieties …. well a combination of cancer and therapy did that.

N.B. The fear that gets me to write as deadlines approach is a good fear. It clarifies my mind, makes the ideas fall into place, produces a structure and amazingly enough the right words. The fear of failure on the other hand is not helpful … it just makes me freeze.

N.B. The dog is insisting we go out and walk now ….. after all he is on holiday.

10 responses to “Sheepdog on Holiday, Writer in Residence

  1. Don’t die on us Claire. I know chronic long term illness very well. Yet I’m “better” than I’ve ever been as I trudge through the difficulties of health issues. I image you are as well. We love and adore you so please stay with us for a long, long time.
    Good luck on the book and enjoy those walks!!

    • I’m not going to die, well not just yet 🙂 I know you too have had more than your fair share of ill-health – it is so rubbish. I am glad though that you feel “better” than you have ever been – love you too xx

    • Thank you – it is beautiful here and we love walking along the river although today we walked inland to a small wood and got completely soaked by the rain. You say his name like this, K – eye – naat – if that makes sense. It is Arabic for ‘universe’.

  2. Pingback: Finished …. not quite | smallholding dreams·

  3. Pingback: Book | smallholding dreams·

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