Thursday, 30 August 2012

Borthwick Inklings

At the moment, I’m typing at York Rail Station, waiting for my train.  It’s a good thing, I think, that all the stores close at 5:30, museums are locked, and I’m given a chance to do some more work.  I’ve just finished chapter 2 of my Women in Asylum book and I’m excited about delving deeper into my notes to write up more.  Although, I am limited on time as the staff here won’t let me plug in as the plugs are ‘untested’.  I’ve about half an hour of juice left in the machine!

It was good meeting up with a friend last night (when I was supposed to be writing) and having a pub dinner was especially tasty!  So, with the request made to me on the night, I’m ‘blogging more frequently’.  Michelle, this is for you :-)

So I may not have mentioned the non-fiction book I’ve been working on.  To be fair, I’m not sure how far I’m going to take it.  I was bewitched by the photographs of Victorian patients in the North Riding Mental Asylum about 12 years ago and now I’m finally following up on the research I’ve always intended on doing.  I spent all of today and half of yesterday in the Borthwick Institute, looking up case files from 1887-1889 of some of the female patients. 

I wanted to focus on post-natal depression, and I think I found a few, but as it was all labelled either ‘melancholia’ or ‘mania’ it’s difficult to tell even when the put the ‘supposed cause’ on the file.  The case notes have given clues into the lives of these women, but my favourite must be the woman from Whitby who was convinced her husband was lost at sea (he wasn’t, but she was looking after three children, the youngest being only three months).  She made a full recovery in a matter of months and also learned some fine needlepoint on the journey. 

Not all the entries were so uplifting.  One girl was in for ‘loss in love’ and ended up dying in the asylum having spent every day absolutely listless and in despair.  It’s hard not to feel an attachment to each woman in the case books – reading each entry from the point of admission to the point of release, death, or relocation ends in either jubilation at a full recovery or extreme melancholia when they don’t.

On other projects, here is a brief update.  Blood Tide is halfway re-edited.  I’ll pick it up again after the move and it WILL be ready by Christmas on Kindle.  I’m still writing for Knowonder and they’ve been fabulous.  My Cornwall tales seem to be going over well, and some of my other stories are rejected so I don’t always get it right, but I’m getting the hang of what works and what doesn’t.  Lillia and Rose is still going but slowly – I don’t want to rush this one and I’m working on writing it out by hand so I can really savour it.  Again, jewellery work is on hold until the move is finished and I can prep my new workshop.


More later…

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