untold stories

So what does a writer do when everything around her is breaking apart, but the stories aren’t hers to tell?

This year I returned from a magazine writing assignment to South America to discover that my uncle’s cancer had returned, and this time it wasn’t going away. Mum’s brother Stewart didn’t have any children, so he treasured his role as surrogate dad to us – and we absolutely adored him.

He’d recently moved back to the North West to be near us all, so Mum managed her house move from Buckingham to Southport whilst nursing him, my aunt came over from Australia for three months, and we made our way through it. There’s a lot of waiting with cancer. Lots of laughter. And tears, lots of tears. But even at the very end, more laughter because that’s what keeps our family going.

And (whilst this is happening, and I’m writing my next book, and publicising Coming Up Roses) in the midst of this some more stuff happens. My sister discovers she has a degenerative illness and our little family is spun around again.

I’ve always processed my thoughts in words, but where usually I’d have rambled away on Twitter or on my Facebook page instead I stared into space a lot. I walked our new puppy and sat on benches watching the world go by. I completed my reiki training – I’m now a Master Teacher – and read nothing but non fiction. I treasured time with my family.


So what have I learned? That – taking a leaf from my sister, who remains resolutely anti-social (media, not people) – a quiet life is a good one. That Instagram is a lovely way to keep in touch but without the whirl and combat of twitter. That nothing happens if you don’t know how your book is doing in the charts.

That – and I know it’s a cliche, but I speak as someone who has lost two of my closest friends, my father, my uncle and my grandmother in the last nine years – this life is precious and to be treasured.

That human connection is important – that the laptop can stay closed for weeks on end and nothing happens.

That I have more space for writing and thinking if I let myself be in silence. And that the responsibility for finding that balance in a world where we’re expected to be on all the time lies with me.

So there we are. That’s where I’ve been and that’s what’s been happening. I’m making my way back now, but bit quieter than before – you’ll probably find me on instagram sharing photographs more than anything else. Hopefully I’ll see you there. x


  1. Jo Matheson says

    I had been thinking of you just the other day (or it might have been a few weeks ago- my life is too busy/too fast) and wondering what you were up to. I had noticed the lack of updates and now I see why. I am sending you positive vibes and my love to all your family. I hope that Zoe remains well for a long time. Jo x

  2. Betsy Martin says

    What a hard time you have had. I lost both my mom and dad this year so I can totally empathize with where you are coming from. I never knew what an important impact they had on my life till they left it. God bless, keep and surround you with his strength and love.

  3. Wherever you are is fine by me. Words, pictures or silence, whatever it takes.

  4. I was wondering the other day how your new book was coming along and what you were doing. Sorry to hear that it’s been a traumatic year – there seems to be a lot of it about. Keep strong. x

  5. Such a lot to deal with Rachel… sending positive vibes too and also thank you! Your observation

    ‘That I have more space for writing and thinking if I let myself be in silence. And that the responsibility for finding that balance in a world where we’re expected to be on all the time lies with me’

    is an excellent & very timely piece of advice.

    Take care x

  6. That sounds tough. Really tough. What a hard time you’ve had. Sending much love and warm thoughts. xxx

  7. You’ll certainly see me there. xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx

  8. Sending you such a big virtual hug. Life is totally precious, and should be lived to the full. Go out there, live it, love it and make memories xxx

  9. Love to you and yours xx