Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Sue Harding – Letter from a Friend

Oh Sue. You're so much like me it isn't even funny. You and me could form our own Writer's Angst group only we'd have to arm wrestle over who was gonna be club president because we're both equally unsure of our talents as writers.

Say hello to Sue Harding, everyone. Sue, this is everyone.  Just about every one of the four people (!) who read this blog are also card-carrying members of the writer's-angst-society of those who feel the need – deep down in the bowels of their souls – to put words on a page and yet we all berate ourselves with the notion that we don't deserve the title "author." That our work isn't good enough. That we're fooling ourselves if we think otherwise.

Sue is a very talented writer. She needs to know this. She needs some encouragement to pick up that pen again and start writing. And Sue, please don't get mad at me for this – we all need encouragement along the line. Heck, I am extremely needy in this department. I can't even tell you how many people I have kicking me in my frozen white arse on a regular basis to keep writing. I feel like I'm a sled dog and all my writer friends are in the sled with the reins and they're yelling, "MUSH, MUSH, MUSH!" 

Sue's a retired librarian. She's an avid reader and a rabid knitter. She's a wife and a mom to two grown kids who need her now more than ever. She lives somewhere in the U.K. and I imagine her to have a lilting accent that would absolutely charm the bejeebers out of me. She is kind and she is encouraging. She thought she was going to be able to participate in National Novel Writing Month and we were going to be writing buddies but her busy, busy life put a kibosh on her own involvement – still, she managed to send me much appreciated words of encouragement along the way.

Sue is one of my Friday Flash friends, one of the small circle of talented writers I have somehow glommed onto. They're the best people – my friends in every sense of the word. Sue lives so far away that unless I win a lottery it's unlikely I'll ever make it over the pond for a visit. Still, she's on my bucket list of folks I'd like to have tea with. Maybe even a scone with a nice pot of jam and butter. Because if it's a bucket list, who cares about calories?

Dear Cathy:

We’ve known each other for a while now, keeping up with each other’s lives in snippets and snaps, via Twitter and blogs but as we can’t exactly pull up a chair and have a cup of tea and a natter, given the vast geographical distance between us, perhaps a letter will have to do for now!

Just how long have we known each other? It seems like for ever, but in reality it can have only been a couple of years at most. I ‘blame’ that Alan Davidson – I’m pretty certain I first noticed your name whilst I was reading his blog. But perhaps ‘blame’ is a bad choice of word – after all, it was only through reading his work and then being nosey enough to trawl through to yours that I found your blog and came to know a little about you and what makes you tick. Incidentally, the family photo on your blog always makes me smile!

I’ll always remember the first comments you made on my blog, responding to some flash fiction I’d written. What a breath of fresh air and encouragement – I swear I could hear a chuckle in your ‘voice’!

Writing has been an on-going pursuit, right from way back in school. That’s not to say I’ve stayed true to it since then, it sort of comes and goes in cycles. There have been a number of times I’ve grown disillusioned with it and I don’t know how many novels (finished and WIPs) that have been discarded in mad purges over the years when my ‘sensible’ head convinced me that I’d never get published so what was the point!

Well, setting up a blog a few years ago gave me a platform to display my wares, so to speak. However, it was a while before I took the plunge and was brave enough to let anyone actually see what I’d written. Thanks to encouragement from people like Matt Hilton and David Barber (and you, madam!) I began to investigate different online writing groups – and what a diverse bunch I found!

Meanwhile I plugged away with a couple of novel-length pieces, hawking them round various agencies…..but I think I am resigned to never getting anything published, having lived through the process vicariously as other writing buddies had their hopes repeatedly raised and then dashed.

But, hey – life’s too short…!

In fact, at the moment my life is seriously far too busy for the single-minded obsession of writing, anyway. Don’t get me wrong, I love my kids, but just as the nest emptied and I got used to time and space that hadn’t been there for so long, back come the fledglings, along with their problems and their needs (and their furniture!) and I’m back into Mum-mode.

Even though I’ve now given up my job in the library (and just as well, as far as coping with the family issues are concerned!) my life is still very firmly entrenched in the world of books – though rather more reading them than writing them, for the time being.

So, now, (in between being nurse-maid, cat wrangler, general housekeeper and library-runner for my daughter recovering from major eye surgery, whilst also being counsellor, soundboard and ‘spirit-buoyancy’ mentor to my currently unemployed son) the few treasured moments to myself are often occupied with reading or knitting – or both at the same time! (a multi-tasking action achieved with the discovery of a book-easel!)

My husband laughs as I knit away regardless – he once said I should have needles surgically implanted – but it is a great stress reliever, and I often find myself weaving plots and arguing the merits of proposed characters as I knit1, purl 1, pass slipped stitch over……

Besides, the wonderful David Barber once dubbed me the ‘Knitting Assassin’ as needles and wool occasionally drifted into my stories – it is a moniker I have adopted for my identity on certain forums, and even the title of a sister-blog I set up.

Well, that’s all for now, dear; if I’m quick I can snatch a couple more chapters and another few rows….given the financial recession, if ever I can’t afford the heating bills I can always wrap myself in wool and lose myself in a good book!

Bye for now!

Regards, Sue


  1. What a lovely exchange! You can make good friends over cyber-space, can't you? And the best writing buddies. I know your writer's angst society soooooo well LOL.

    1. Thanks, Susan! There's always room for one more in the harnesses!

  2. Cathy - move over in that there sled harness, you and me both, kiddo! ;-)

    As for actually meeting up.....you never know! (at least I made it onto the same continent a while back - cousins in NH, who are contemplating retirement north of the border!)

    1. LOL - I have a vision of us tethered into the harness! I hope they throw us a bone once in a while!
      And tell your cousins they'll never regret moving into the Great White North. Sometimes we even have summer!

  3. This is wonderful, Cathy. I like Sue already through this one-page exchange. I think it is important to embrace where we are, even if it doesn't include writing. I know I have had to put my writing aside because life called me to do other things, take care of other matters.
    But one should never give up hope if that's where the heart lies. BTW...the picture of your family makes me smile, too :-)

    1. Susan - Hi! (waving from the UK!)

      One day I'll get my act together and turn back to writing (if I can just extricate myself from the current knitting projects!) - who knows, maybe even later this week - might be time to resurrect the 'Thursday@3' feature......! (oh - now the pressure's on....)

    2. Real life gets in the way, to be sure. Thanks for the comment about my header, Susan. I appreciate it! And Sue, hoping to see a little ressurection on Thursday.. but no pressure!

  4. Nice post. Great sharing bios of friends, close and cyber!

  5. How very lovely.. Just goes to show it's not what you know but who.... Thanks Sue H for leading me this way...xx

  6. Har! Knitting Assissin. That name kills me! (That Barber chappie is very clever). I too am a member of the writer's angst club - though not to the 'bowels of the soul' as Cathy describes. Perhaps just to the spleen.

    At any rate, we in Newfoundland have no doubt about your writing abilities after you won third place in our 'Lost on the Rock' contest last May with your story "Oubliette". It was a fine piece of writing and it would be a sin if you tossed your writer's pencil into the fireplace.

    Remember: knit, then write, then knit, then write...etc.

    1. "SPLEEN!" heheheheheheheheheh You're too funny, fez-man!

      I'd forgotten that Sue kicked my butt in your Lost on the Rock contest... yet another fine reason to keep writing.

  7. I'm such fan of Sue. Isn't the interweb an awesome place. So many interesting people to meet. The writing community in particular is full of interesting people, like the knitting assassin. :)

    1. Thank you, Laurita! Without wishing to seem as if this is a mutual appreciation society, you are among my regular 'must read' bloggers! :-)

      To everyone else who has commented on this thread, may I say how heartwarming and encouraging all your kind words have been!

      To which end, the 'muse' appears to have been coerced from self-imposed exile and even now is flexing her literary muscles - watch out tomorrow for 'Thursday@3' on my blog !

  8. Knitting assassin...I LOVE it! Yes, don't quit writing!

    1. I wish I could knit. Tried. Can't do it. My fingers are like planks.

  9. This is a lovely letter, it was like sitting in a comfy armchair by a cosy fire listening to an old friend talk.

    I know that feeling about will I ever get published, although I have a couple of small things already done so, it's those bigger things, the novel, the short stories - just got another rejection only this week. sigh, but hope burns eternal and one keeps bashing them out because they must!

    Nice to have got to know you a little bit in this letter Sue.

    1. Sorry about the rejection, Helen. It really does hurt. Publishers are like boyfriends who "only want to be friends." Sigh....

  10. This is a very good tip especially to those new
    to the blogosphere. Brief but very accurate info… Thank you for sharing this one.
    A must read article!
    Also visit my webpage ... is generic sildenafil Citrate available in u. S

  11. I really love youг blog.. Plеаsаnt colоrs & theme.
    Did you makе this amazіng ѕite yourself?

    Please reply bacκ aѕ I'm attempting to create my own personal blog and would like to learn where you got this from or what the theme is named. Thanks! More suggestions

  12. Τhiѕ is very іnteresting, You're a very skilled blogger. I'ѵe jοineԁ your rss feeԁ and look foгwaгd to seeking more
    of youг great post. Also, I have shаred your wеb sіte
    in my social netwοrks! ie.Gluecklichsein.eu


How's it going, eh? It's SO good to hear from you. Tell me every darn thing...