The Downton Abbey Effect

So what does a writer do when they’re not writing? It has been over a year since I finished my last book, “Organized and Loving It”, which I co-wrote with my alter-ego, SuperOrganized Sal, the Perfectionist Gal.  It was something different for me, indulging the left side of my brain, while still releasing the right side a bit as well. I’ve always loved organizing things. KEEPING them organized, well, that’s more difficult. A co-worker, when he saw the title of the book, asked my husband if I was super-organized. “No,” my husband replied, “but she IS a fiction writer.”


Har har har.


Since then, I have not done any finished writing. I started another novel, but after publishing four books in 2-1/2 years, I felt a bit burnt out. So what DOES a writer do when they’re not writing? They READ. In the past year, my Kindle has been kept busy. I’ve been reading multiple books by Winston Graham, Jacqueline Winspear, Dodie Smith, DE Stevenson and others. I’ve found myself  much drawn to books of previous times, often by British authors. Is it the Downton Abbey effect? I’ve also watched a lot of Brit TV DVDs, such as Lark Rise to Candleford, Call the Midwife, and Ballykissangel. I just enjoy these stories of a kinder time, when the main characters are not dealing with murders, child molesters, drug dealers, and terrorists. Authors back before the 1970s were able to write stories about families, friends, whimsical neighbors and happier events, such as church lawn parties, the lifestyle of a stage actor, rural postal routes and the entertainment at a local pub, while still involving plenty of drama. And these authors actually got published! Not that I’m bitter…


I just enjoy escaping today’s headline horrors with books that are kinder and gentler. I just finished reading a British classic, Down the Garden Path, by Beverley Nichols, which doesn’t even really HAVE a story – it’s actually a gardening book, but written in such a conversational style that you want to rush right out and dig in your back yard. And read more of his books. Again, maybe it’s the Downton Abbey effect – if we must have death and drama, let’s at least wear gorgeous clothes, live in a fabulous house, and get served tea and crumpets while we do it. The newest book downloaded to my Kindle is Wendy Wax’s novel “While We Were Watching Downton Abbey”. I haven’t read it yet, so I can’t give a recommendation, but the title certainly caught my eye. I’ll let you know when I’m done.


Meanwhile, a few story ideas have been floating around my mind, or maybe I’ll go back to the unfinished novel. At any rate, hope you’re having a great summer (if you’re not in those unfortunate parts of the country that are either burning up or drowning!), and have lots of great beach reads. I think I’ll go fix myself a cuppa tea and find a biscuit. Maybe a graham cracker will have to do…

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