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I followed Zadie Smith’s advice on editing, which is if possible leave your finished book for a year, if you can’t do that then leave it for three months, then when you go back you will be able to see what needs doing and be able to be ‘its reader instead of its writer.’

A writer who has stopped writing can be a a funny creature. Writing gives me a sense of purpose, occupies my thoughts and is my support system. I found it weird at first, although I did enjoy the typing break. The last couple of weeks I nearly cracked and started early, but I resisted and by the time the day came, I had totally got into not doing it and it was actually hard to get started again.

It’s similar to how I feel under the current circumstances. At first I was restless all the time, talking about when we would be able to get back to Cambodia or India. Now I have accepted that we won’t be going there until next winter. We have both booked the first two weeks of May off work to go on a two week boat trip though. We live on a narrowboat, and so have a holiday right there, but haven’t as yet done a long trip or more than one night away at a time.

This three months of not writing coincided with November lockdown and the post Christmas restrictions which are still in place here in the UK. It’s really been a lesson in living day to day and accepting things as they are, whilst being totally present as my head hasn’t been in my book. I’ve really appreciated and enjoyed things such as a takeaway coffee from the supermarket when we’re out shopping and getting essential supplies once a week, and the excitement of the fuel boat coming to deliver logs, Calor gas (propane) and kindling.

My husband John

This being the UK, weather has been very changeable, we’ve had thick ice on the canal, we’ve had lots of rain, and a few days ago we had lovely thick snow for the first time in a while!

I’ve been getting really into cooking; I’ve never been confident that I really know what I’m doing with spices but recently I’ve been following lots of cooking accounts and copying some recipes from Instagram which have turned out really nice, then I’ve used them as a springboard to make my own versions.

It’s really been nice to add some more variety, courtesy of Livity Plant Based Cuisine and Vegan Food and Places, both on Instagram.

Talking of which, for writing, cats, food and every day life, follow me on Instagram thisisrachelhill

For beautiful photographs of our travels follow my husband travelswithanthony

I’ll leave you with this quote from the film Down to Earth, which was recommended to me by my friend Karen:

‘How we live every day is a ceremony.’

Self portrait, Pushkar, India 2020

Thank you very much for reading

About the author

In 2018 in our forties and fifties my husband and I sold up, gave away most of our possessions, and went travelling for a year, mainly in India, and also to Thailand, Tokyo, Nepal, Cambodia and Vietnam. My personal/spiritual/travel memoir of the year is currently being edited a bit more before I resend it to agents. I wrote everything down and made it a bit too long! I live on a narrowboat in rural Northamptonshire, UK with my husband and two cats.