I have to admit it: I’ve lost my writing mojo. I have been dragging my feet over the research for my work in progress, which is the fourth and final book in the Dagenham Story with the working title of A Town in Essex. Much of this procrastination is down to the huge amount of research needed as it’s set in Dagenham during 1930s and 1940s, so not only am I having to research what happened to the town and its people during that time, but also what was going on nationally and internationally and as we all know, with World War Two that was quite a lot! However, I can’t underestimate the effect of the lockdowns on my well-being. I’ve become very lethargic, have lost a lot of my powers of concentration along with them a lot of enthusiasm for doing things and for life in general.
However, on Saturday I went onto Facebook to see that someone I don’t know personally, a local historian called Bill Jennings, had written a fabulous recommendation for my other Dagenham books – The Banjo Book One, The Banjo Book Two and A Village in the Country. This is what he wrote:
“For those who love Dagenham nostalgia, I would highly recommend two books written by a ‘Dagenham girl’. The author is Elaine Spires, who grew up on the Heath Park Estate. The books are called ‘The Banjo’ (books 1 & 2) and the stories are based on that estate. The banjo and the residents are fictional, but the names of all of the other roads, schools, pubs etc. are factual. It tells the stories of all of the residents in the banjo from 1952 until 2020. I found it really interesting in the way that Elaine seamlessly mixed fact and fiction, and our knowledge of Dagenham gives extra enjoyment. I deliberately have not explained what a banjo is, as any self respecting Dagenhamite will immediately recognise it lol. Happy reading to those who give it a go.”
Further on in the comments, after I had thanked him, he added:
“You are very welcome Elaine. I loved the mixture of fact and fiction, and I could easily envisage scenes because of the names of various places in Dagenham. I am now looking forward to reading ‘A Village in the Country’ as the Becontree Estate is my ‘specialist subject’. Just as a side issue, I was in the same class as your cousin, Brian Spires, throughout my time at Beverley Boys School, and he attended a small class reunion that I arranged a few months ago. Best wishes and good luck with your writing.”
The thread attracted more than 140 likes and around the same number of comments praising the books and recommending them to others. This gave me such a boost, I can’t tell you. I suffer from terrible self-doubt and am always in awe of other writers. It was so good to read all these positive comments and to see the surge in sales of both Kindle and paperback versions of all three books over the weekend. Incidentally, Brian Spires, the cousin who Bill mentions in his second post did the artwork for the covers of both Banjo books. It’s a small world, especially for those of us who grew up in Dagenham and on the Heath Park Estate.
So that’s it; that’s all my news. My writing mojo and enthusiasm have returned. I’m getting on with A Town in Essex.