Deliverance: Why The Children at the River’s End is so very dear to me.

On the day I reached 124,055 words of the first draft, at the point of crafting the finale (and a whisker away from completion), I experienced a truly strange flash of revelation.

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I was standing in the kitchen, holding a tea-towel.

It was subtle, intense.

The towel I held was green and white and I was drying a pan. What happened next was unexpected: I didn’t go looking for it; it just came to me from nowhere. And it was real, and it was right. I knew its inherent truthfulness. I understood in completeness something so very, very important as I approached the final chapter – as to why this book was so dear to me.

(Disclaimer: I originally wrote this blog on 9th November 2021. I started writing the novel at the end of March 2020.)

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The ‘pandemic’ months/years, for a vast amount of us, were like been fast-track along a street called desperate, in a town named despair, with back-drop of constant apocalypse. Each and every day, part of the world was outside our reach. The sun grimly shone, and every evening the moon was our silent companion.

Our minds, and our bodies were fighting against the unspeakable, invisible assailant. Life opened up to us our own personal paths of anguish that we often frequented alone… sometimes, fearfully alone. Well-meaning people tried to help, but were coping with their own emotional, social and physical traumas. Their occasional words were like a postcard from a distant relative, from a far-away land, arriving battered and bent – and for all the best intentions – with writing smudged beyond all comprehension. It was a good message that our heads could neither embrace, nor perceive; far gone to accept the healing words of hope – day after gruelling day, isolated in the lockdown.

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Writing this book is my own way of dealing with the pandemic.

This was my tea-towel revelation: I had to do something to get through. The book was ‘that’ essential, something.

To be honest, I don’t think I had a choice. It had to happen. I had to write it. Another example in my life of: do, or die.

I can’t tell you how much this book saved me in the last year and a half. It was a vision of hope, but I’m absolutely fascinated about how and why it happened, or how it even came into being. This is the truth. I felt so ill on the day I conceived the idea in my mind; awful in fact. Looking back; it was a case of beauty from ashes – my self-help manual written and acted by myself.

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To quote Arthur Kingsley McFadden from Mis-fit, Misplaced, Miss Shelly Clover:

‘The beauty is in the process, not the prize. It’s about the passion, not the patent!’

This novel was conceived in pain, delivered with joy… and when I look back, and it was my hiking boots, compass, water bottle, crooked stick and fleece through a dark, treacherous mountain pass; this and so much more.

When I hold a copy now and flick from front to back, and really look at the words dancing by, it 100% brought me through so much: Christmas alone; my neighbour dying (I can see her walking to the ambulance even now); my key-worker letter spread out on the passenger seat of my car, should I get pulled over by the police; the truly horrific abuse from a hacker in an online ‘live’ lesson (“I know where you live.”); the confusing physical pain; the one-way blue arrows in the corridor, and despite government denials, the unequivocal anger that the next lockdown was incoming.

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Do you know what? I’m super grateful I got to write this. I really am. I thank God for it, I really do. It’s made the last three years mean something. And to have meaning in life – in whatever capacity – is what it should be all about. To think, if I hadn’t used Google Earth, and scrolled down on the beck on that fateful morning…

Take care, folks. All the very best for your creative lives; please don’t neglect it.

James Steven Clark

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