Imagine you've come upon me mumbling to myself in a corner.
The word count for the fourth novel, Hand Signals reads 11,233. Steady progress but the title will not survive. I'm presently enjoying an epiphany, proof of why I find writing so absorbing and a compensation for the penalties of old age. A 198-word passage, totally unexpected in content, which informs the central character's situation. She is Francine and her name will, I think, stick.
Why am I so keen to write predominantly about women? For traditional political reasons? Yes, but there's more to it. Women seem born to suffer and then to re-emerge. A fancy, no doubt but then fiction is all fancy. Francine suffers unbearably in the first chapter. Physically and spiritually. Then begins the process of re-creation.
Flushed by the onset of the epiphany I turn on my favourite 2 min 46 sec of YouTube, many times alluded to: Miah Persson and Anke Vondung, doing Soave sia il vento - beauty combined with intelligence and carefully restrained passion.
Back to the keyboard and the epiphany grows. Another favourite: Bach's Wachet auf, tiny choir and tiny orchestra. The sopranos, a rather cosy housewifely trio, leap out and stab me, St Teresa fashion.
Why women? Because, subconsciously, I believe women's approval to be a great luxury. Likely to be hard won. Approval here carries no hidden meaning, simply "favourable opinion or judgment".