This week felt like the right time, finally, to clean up my Manchester office after the carnage of the last six months writing and editing.
I'll never grow out of keeping my mum's handwritten love letters. Ever since I left home in my early twenties, wherever I've lived in the world and no matter how tough a time Mum and I have had managing the distance between us, she's always sent me pressed lavender from her garden.
In the last couple of weeks I've had moments of bewilderment questioning where the story of my novel came from, how my characters seemingly 'found' me in singular moments of my everyday life. When I was buying milk, or tying up my shoelaces, or filling up the car, or washing the dishes, there they were, so vividly alive I was often disturbed by the fact that they weren't 'real'. I've heard other authors talk about this and it's not that I didn't believe them, it's just surreal to experience myself it for the first time. In other moments, it feels utterly clear where this book came from in me and how it found me: I have a mum, and a granny, who taught me to see a whole world in a single flower. To look for magic in the dirt.
It's a strange thing to feel that this circle in my life is turning, towards a time when the writing and editing will actually finish. There will be no more to be done. And Alice will soon go out into the world, separate to me, to live her own life and story with readers. The thought makes me dizzy.
Plans for today: call my mum. Write love letters. Cut lavender from my garden.
HOLLY RINGLAND grew up barefoot and wild in her mother's tropical garden on the east coast of Australia. Her interest in cultures and stories was sparked by a two-year journey her family took in North America when she was nine years old, living in a camper van and travelling from one national park to another. In her twenties, Holly worked for four years in a remote Indigenous community in the central Australian desert. Moving to England in 2009, Holly obtained her MA in Creative Writing from the University of Manchester. Her essays and short fiction have been published in various anthologies and literary journals. She now lives between the UK and Australia. To any question ever asked of Holly about growing up, writing has always been the answer.