“There is an excitement in exploring characters and in seeing how they react
with each other in different situations. I have always kept diaries and
journals ever since I was a child. Lately I have noticed that I do not want
to write in the journal because of a feeling that I am encouraging sad
thoughts and increasing anxiety by dwelling at length on troublesome things
and writing about them. I prefer now to retain the ability to make the quick
note of truth and awareness, to notice some small thing about a person, a
stranger – perhaps someone choosing knitting wool in the supermarket,
something like that – and move into imaginative fiction from the small
truthful moment, the little picture, the idea which is so slender it hardly
seems to matter. And then suddenly I am exploring human feelings and
The small observations, overheard snatches of conversation, the way a person moves, the meaningful glance any of these can trigger a short story. This small true observation fires the imagination and all manner of possibilities begin to unfold. The writer asks the ‘what if?’ question and begins to go beyond the obvious and the predictable to a more complex and creative narrative.
One such observation and a few lines in a newspaper set in motion my story ‘The Ten Dollar Note’. Some time later it was quite disconcerting to see a news item about a soup kitchen for the homeless. There was a woman in the queue for a meal who was exactly as I had imagined Maisie. Life and art are inextricable.