Everything happens for a reason. Well that’s what they say, although I’m sure we all take some convincing of that in times of crisis. I certainly didn’t take comfort from this pithy saying as I sat on a hard chair, in the maelstrom of A&E on New Year’s Eve, nursing a fractured shoulder. I do remember saying to a passing paramedic, in an effort to be positive, “It happened before midnight, so 2019 can only get better.” I’m not sure he believed me, and I wasn’t too certain myself. 2018 hadn’t been a brilliant year, I’d been anxious and worried, I’d lost a very close friend and this seemed to put the cap on it all.

In the ensuing weeks there was no reason for me to believe that things were getting better. Reverse Shoulder Replacement surgery, followed by six weeks in a sling, and feeling helpless, my life centred on the three occasions each day, when I removed the sling and endured the pain of simple physiotherapy exercises. Apart from the excitement of being able to shower for the first time after three weeks, these were dark days.

January can be a pretty bleak month anyway, and February not much better. I did have one secret comfort though, thanks to a Tawny Owl that lives in the woods nearby. I would lie in bed at night listening to him calling and the thought would drift into my mind that I might write a story about him. The seed was sown, but was to lie buried in my mind for a long time, as if under the Winter snow. I had no inclination to write and even the process of getting my latest book, ‘Monty’s Blackbird’, published seemed to have hit a roadblock.

It was during March that, like the season, things began to come to life. I was able to do more and consequently we went out walking and I could revel in the birdsong and the signs of Spring. I even began planting seeds for my garden. As a result of being in a happier frame of mind, I started to think about writing and thanks to the encouragement of my friends at our Writing Group, I began to work. Short stories on different themes were fun to plan, so back to the computer keyboard I went. The family were reminding me that I had to rework some ideas for the novel I had written in draft, so I started to develop some characters and slot in some new scenes to bring the story to life.

We returned from a holiday in Scotland in early May and after a week of walking, soaking up the atmosphere of the Cairngorms and planning the outline of another novel, I was ready for anything. Well, almost. I had been told that my ‘fragility fracture’ could have been caused by weakness in my bones, so weight-bearing exercise was called for. That, or medication which I did not like the sound of one bit. At this point, my physio had also signed me off with the message, “Start swimming!” Something had to be done.

I began getting up early and walking to enjoy the quiet time of day. I started swimming at the local pool and, more recently, I have joined a gym to work on strengthening my bones. All this exercise would have been unthinkable six months ago, it just wasn’t me. Content to get up in a leisurely way and amble through the day, with no real plan, I wasn’t achieving a great deal.

Now things are moving on. The ideas from my Writing Group pieces are forming the basis of a new collection of stories from The Woodpecker Tree, the third draft of my novel is finished and, so far, those who have read it like what they’ve seen. ‘Monty’s Blackbird’ is nearly done, the illustrations should be ready for me to see soon, and I am working on another idea, working title, ‘A Girl Called Moth’. Oh, and the owl story did get written. ‘Two Hoots’ will hopefully be in the Woodpecker Tree collection.

Would I have done all this if I hadn’t fallen flat on my face on New Year’s Eve? I doubt it but I certainly wouldn’t recommend it. There have to be less painful ways of giving yourself a kick up the backside. But, as they say, maybe things do happen for a reason.