When The Clearing was published this March it turned out to be just days before a full lockdown was announced. Seeing the whole world turned upside down by the pandemic kept some perspective on things, but it seemed at the time a disastrous moment to bring out my first book.
With all events and readings cancelled I turned, with some reluctance at first, to using social media, email and blogging. At the time, turning all communication digital felt like an only-just-better-than-nothing last resort.
But it has surprised me to discover that social media is, above all, social. In fact, it has been wonderful over the course of this otherwise unsocial year to make so many new connections, to reconnect with distant friends I can’t see in person, and to discover this new way to build community and conversations around things that matter.
In a year that has been so lacking in the ease and warmth of physical conviviality this has been a welcome surprise.
I’ve also discovered that sending a book out into the world is to open a conversation with each person that reads it. It has been a quiet joy to receive so many messages from readers who have loved The Clearing and have reached out to let me know what it has meant to them. In this year of separation, I am more thankful than you can know for these messages that come through the digital ether.
I have answered every one with a sense that a real, warm human connection has been forged. In The Clearing I wrote about how the ancient idea of a subtle ether that filled the empty space between things helped me to see that separation is really a connection.
I didn’t know just how pertinent that lesson was to become for all of us.
I was delighted to see the much-followed book blogger Linda Hill post on Twitter that The Clearing was one of her top 6 books of the year.
You can read an extract of The Clearing and Linda’s lovely review of it over on her blog.