This is my writing space. It is one end of a bedroom. I haven’t cleared up before taking the picture – that felt like cheating. Just out of sight to the right of the picture is my husband’s desk, always tidier than mine.
The photograph you can see propped up just above the screen is of me with both my daughters, my son and my daughter-in-law outside a pub in The Rocks, in Sidney. We were all together, a rare occasion – one of my daughters and my son live in Sidney, and the other daughter in Alaska. No wonder the photo is precious to me. The passer-by who took it for us did a good job.
On the wall is a drawing of Virginia Woolf, from the life, made by Richard Kennedy. Virginia Woolf is my patron saint. The screen-saver on my computer is of the waves breaking on the beach in St Ives, looking towards the lighthouse, which was the view from my bedroom window when I was a child.
As you see, there isn’t much of a view from the window in here; the other side of the house looks over the River Cam and Midsummer Common, but I can’t work looking at that, people keep rowing past, or running or walking their dogs and distracting me. I’m better off looking at the silent uproar of the frozen waves on my screen. You might just be able to make out, sitting on the desk a little green brass frog, a useful paper-weight, which was a present from Ursula LeGuin, on one of our travels together. Another silent reminder – he doesn’t croak, but he puts me in mind of the fierce discipline that a writer I admire and love imposes on herself. I make an inner report on my own discipline when my eye lights on it. “Could do better,” it says.
The Late Scholar by Jill Paton Walsh is out now.