When I last wrote to you back in August (I know, I know; I'm a terrible penpal), I had just been attacked by a marauding cat. In retrospect, I wonder if that turned me. Because, after years of being a devout cat person, I now - rather suddenly - have a dog. Not the convenient kind of dog who arrives in the family and makes few demands. No, that would be far too easy. I am nursemaiding a street puppy from Lesvos with a badly broken leg, who has required eye-wateringly expensive surgery, and who has recently got into the habit of pooing in the boot of my car when I take her to the vet's for a daily dressing change.
I suspect this is what it feels like to entirely lose your marbles, because I love the dog in a way that baffles me. She is just so utterly helpless and sweet-natured, and I seem primed to flow into the gaping valley of her need. This afternoon, when I came home from the supermarket saying, 'Hello baby girl! Did you miss me? Did you? Did you? Mummy's got treats!', H looked up from his laptop and said, 'Who are you and what did you do with my wife?'
He's got a point. Yet I'm not just enchanted by the dog. I'm also overcome by the strange flow of compassion that she seems to attract. I had to start a GoFundMe for her care and within a couple of weeks I'd raised over £4,000, mostly from complete strangers. I feel ever so slightly guilty about this. Have I diverted money from starving children? I hope not. But at the same time, it seems clear that people just want to help. They want to perform a small, uncomplicated act of good that makes their day slightly brighter. A puppy - a helpless, starving, limping bundle of fur - makes it easy.
When I first started telling people about Fraggle, I repeatedly made the same typo. I was not rescuing a stray dog, but a stray god. I began to like it too much to correct myself. It reminded me of all the various stories of deities come to test us, the disguised gods of Greek myths, St Christopher discovering that he's carrying Christ, or the Hawaiian goddess Pele, who sometimes hitchhikes as a young girl to warn of impending volcanic eruptions. There is something hidden in this experience that challenges me to bring my best self. I'm doing my best to step up.
I have an awful lot of news to share with you, so let's go with the headlines:
My next memoir, Wintering, comes out in the UK on 6th February - here's the beautiful cover. It's all about the fallow periods in life when everything feels frozen, and how the natural world can show us how to survive. I absolutely can't wait for you all to read it. Pre-orders are open, if you're that way inclined. (US friends will have to wait until November, but I promise it'll be worth it!)
March will see the release of The Best, Most Awful Job, an anthology of honest writing on motherhood that I'm editing for Elliott & Thompson. This has kept me very busy over the last couple of months, and it's full of brilliant writing from diverse perspectives. More soon.
This Saturday (9th November), I'll be running a workshop on how to write and pitch memoir and narrative non-fiction at London's lovely new workspace for writers, Clean Prose. I could probably squeeze in one more person if this has your name on it.
Finally, fans of Whitstable's boutique literary festival of the wild mind and the sea, Between the Tides, is coming back on 1st February, and will include a launch party for Wintering (a very laid-back one; you know how I feel about parties). I'm hoping to confirm the lineup very soon, so please sign up to the Between the Tides Tinyletter to make sure you're the first to know.
Right, I think that's plenty from me. See you soon.