The last few months have been tough for all sorts of reasons and not just for me, but it's time to come back to these pages and reflect on what it's meant, personally. Firstly, I'm so grateful to everyone who has bought my book, read it, got in touch with me to tell me what they thought of it, left reviews ... all the things that make an author very happy. Secondly, I'm so glad my mum got to come to the zoom launch. She hated being on zoom, of course, and refused to go in the chat room but I got to see her there and knew she was listening to me reading and afterwards she told me, like Mum's are supposed to, that it was the best reading she'd ever heard (apart from Karen Jones, who made her laugh, which my book was never going to!). But after the launch, and then my mum getting ill, I stopped writing and until a couple of weeks ago I wondered if I'd lost it, the desire or compulsion or whatever it is, to write - I'd finally published my book and now it was over, I was flat, finished. I'd fiddled with a few pieces that needed more work but it felt like a waste of time. I slept a lot, erratically, plagued by dreams. I kept wondering what the point was, given everything. And then, gradually, the awkward, difficult story that I'd been fiddling with began to take shape and then I wrote a real new piece, only a few hundred words, but it was a start. It's a bit like the snowdrops. You notice one or two, then suddenly there's a whole bank of them. I'm seeing stories again, putting words down, editing, critiquing, engaging with other writers via podcasts, zoom, twitter. That fallow period was necessary, vital even. I allowed myself to feel sad, to drift and not write. I read when I felt like it and quite randomly. I felt unmoored and unnerved but I was hibernating, recovering. We've got to trust in ourselves more, give ourselves permission to stop for a while. People are under incredible pressure, now more than ever, and this drive to perform, accomplish, achieve and be seen to do so is anathema to creativity. I love this time of year, the tiny, but undeniable, extra minutes of daylight, warmth of the sun, new life in the hedgerows, branches, the flower beds. New life, new hope. It sounds like a cliche but it's visceral when you get outside and look. I'm still sad, I still wonder, several times a day, what the point is, given everything, but I'm writing again and I know Mum would be glad about that.