This morning's counselling session felt very thoughtful. Or rather I was doing a lot of thinking about how things had been in the past, and how they are now. Kunu seemed keen to get me onto the subject of religion and church, which I suppose had to happen sometime or other. I hadn't been sure how I'd feel about that but, in the event, it was okay. We talked about how and why I'd originally become a Christian, how it had been then and how it was now. Short answer: very bloody different. But then having been wrung out and mangled by the evangelical church, and spewed out, shattered but generally intact, at the other end, I suppose I should have anticipated that. Hey ho.
It was interesting though how Kunu picked up on my problems with organised communities in general. And she also asked questions about why it is I try (or have tried in the past) so hard to conform. Maybe I'm not sure whether the church per se has ever really "fitted" - it's simply that I thought that was the only way to express my faith. And of course it's (at least on my mother's side) the family tradition I've been brought up in. At heart, I don't think I've ever been a team player. Ye gods, even the phrase "family service" is enough to bring me out in a rash, "family" being one of my key stress words. Much like "religion" itself, or even "community". We did have an interesting chat about the parable of the lost sheep though - and I thought for the first time that maybe the ruddy thing didn't want to be found and brought back to the ruddy flock. Maybe it was actually in possession of a perfectly good map and a compass and had been trying to find its true home. Maybe it didn't want to be returned to its fellow sheep, but was perfectly happy on its own. Bugger, eh.
Which, if I could only connect in true EM Forster fashion, would lead me to think that if the church did suddenly turn up at the doorstep demanding to know what's wrong with me and begging me to return, I would probably flee to the Surrey Hills and beg them to leave me alone to make my own decision. Which of course rather puts the dampener on last week's blog accusing them all of cruelty and desertion. Double bugger. And of course it all goes to show how little I know my own mind and how easily I can swing from one strongly-held opinion to another in a matter of minutes without so much as a flare or a phone call. As Kunu said, we will need at some stage to explore the reasons behind my apparently desperate desire to be part of a community and my apparently equally desperate desire to avoid it. Hell, it's always good to have something to look forward to, I suppose. In the meantime, just stick a label on me and call me a hypocrite. I'll ring my own "unclean" bell ...
Back at the ranch, I have had delicious fun writing another 1000 words of "The Gifting". God, but it's like coming home. Or journeying towards it. One of the two. Possibly because I've been writing the flashback sex scene between Simon & Ralph, and I've been having to think laterally about what's he's sensing in his mind as well as physically, what with Simon being telepathic. And it's been fun to write things slightly differently in that way. Actually, no, being honest, I always love doing the sex scenes and the violence scenes. No matter what. They're where I really feel I'm buzzing. It's the sections between that cause the angst ...
Oh and the lovely Jackie from Goldenford (http://www.goldenford.co.uk) has put a few very kind comments about A Dangerous Man (http://www.flamebooks.com) on her blog at http://jackieluben.blogspot.com under yesterday's date, which I include below also:
"I finished Anne Brooke’s A Dangerous Man yesterday night. (It was very different from anything I’ve read before and quite difficult putting myself into the mind of a disturbed young gay man.) Anne’s hero, Michael, takes you on a journey into a twilight world and into an environment that most of us won’t have encountered. Nevertheless, any creative person can empathise with Michael’s desperate desire for success in his chosen field, and most readers will understand his longing for love and recognition. Anne has shown great insight in stepping into the shoes of this dark and obsessive character, and in leading us through highs and lows to the book’s compelling climax."
Thanks hugely, Jackie - that means a great deal (though I'm not sure about the "great insight" - as you can probably tell from Sentence Four of your own review, Michael is pretty much me ...), especially as dark crime isn't a genre you warm to and your own books are so very life-affirming. Talking of which, if you haven't come across Jacquelynn Luben's books, then you really should - The Fruit of the Tree (http://www.amazon.co.uk) is a very moving autobiography about Jackie's experiences of cot death and her own journey through and beyond that, and of course Goldenford's own A Bottle of Plonk is a very witty and wise series of interconnected stories focusing on the travels of one very unique bottle. Now if only I could get Goldenford's hot, sticky hands on her next novel, The Tainted Tree, my life as a fulfilled editor would be complete!...
Oh, and the lovely Clayton (http://www.myspace.com/dwbsoho) has also just finished A Dangerous Man too and has emailed me to say how much he loved it, and that he thinks I'm a "fantastic writer". Gosh. Thanks, Clayton - that means a great deal too. Because, as I said, Michael had been worried about what you might think of him. My, how that boy does fret. And each time I tried to reassure him you'd be very sweet as that is your nature, he'd just mutter something unmentionable at me and go back to his drawing. Sigh.
This afternoon, I've popped in to see Gladys. She's not having so good a week this week, I have to say, so it was quite tricky to get her smiling again. But we did agree that she must keep breathing until Tony Blair has been beaten into submission and left the leadership, as otherwise she'd never forgive herself for not seeing him out of office. My, how she hates that man. Still, it gives her an aim (of sorts!) and that's only to the good. And we also talked about holidays and her travels through Denmark just after the war. Apparently, her long-deceased husband, Charlie, had a German penfriend (well, he lived in Denmark but was German, I believe) arranged through school which he kept up with through the war. Astonishing. And bloody good for him too - why ruin a perfectly good friendship just because some crazed madman is in charge of Germany? Unfortunately, the penfriend was killed during the war at some stage, but Gladys & Charlie went over to visit the parents afterwards. Marvellous stuff. And a lesson to us all in how lucky we are now indeed.
And I have at last let drop to Gladys that I am attending church less often (for less often, read not at all ...) and that therefore I only know what's happening via Lord H. It felt more honest to say it as, off-line, I've rather been keeping this under wraps. If anything can be under wraps for an obsessional blogger like me, of course. Anyway, she was fine about it, and we moved on. Phew.
Tonight, I think I'm going to do some more scribbling to "The Gifting", as it'll be interesting to see how Johan reacts to Simon's very strong memories of Ralph. Aha! I feel a major row coming on. Hmm. It'll be difficult to have a blazing row in the middle of a small boat on a vast ocean, I must admit, but I'll see what I can do. Ah, the power, the cruelty - I love it!
Oh, and Lord H has nearly finished his divorce essay for Theology class - which, as it should be handed in on Saturday, is actually pretty much advance planning for him. Mr Last-Minute-dot-Com is indeed his middle name.
Today's nice things:
2. The two reviews of A Dangerous Man
3. Remembering the war years with Gladys.