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Joe, visited

20 June 2005

At last a hot day, a sunny day, a day worth going out in. I have spent the day indoors.

In this interstice, while I wait for judgement from America - do I still have a career worth the saving, do I still have a life? am I still a publishable writer? - I have been revisiting Moonshadow, the young-adult fantasy proposal. Work on that has been suspended for six months, while I did the Selling Water rewrite. The nice thing about this process, though, is that things donít dry up or fall apart from neglect. There's a literary equivalent of a deepfreeze, somehow, so that you can go back to unfinished work months or years later and it's still fresh, still interesting, in whatever state of undevelopment you left it.

So Iíve been cutting, reworking, introducing a new character and yet making the whole thing shorter, sharper, clearer (I hope). Now I need to produce some vestige of a synopsis for the next two books down the line. Yurk.

I did actually slip out earlier today, to visit Joe's grave down the road. Just to put this-all in context, I absolutely disbelieve in psychopomps and Messages from Elsewhere, okay? Itís just coincidence; but I hadnít been to the interment part of Joe's obsequies last Friday, so I didnít know where in St Nicholas the grave was. I went in confidence this morning, sure that I could find a new grave in an old cemetery, but of course I couldnít. And was halfway up the main path, still looking baffledly to left and right, when I was mobbed by a single crow. This has never happened to me before, but it shrieked and swooped at me time and time again, till I felt I'd strayed into one of my own fantasies. Refusing to give way to this avian imperative, I kept on walking - until I was halted and then turned back by a barking black dog ahead. This hasn't happened to me for years, though it used to be a commonplace. Anyway, I turned and walked a different way back down the hill; and there of course was Joe's grave, waiting for me to find it.

I like having him so close still, just five minutes down the road. We've been near neighbours for a quarter of a century; it's good that he hasn't gone away.

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© Chaz Brenchley 2005
Reproduced here by permission of Chaz Brenchley, who asserts his moral right to be identified as the author of this work.