So 2013 begins and I look forward to getting on with more of my creative and writing projects. Increasingly these seem to be having a greater presence in my life and this is rewarding to me.

Before the yuletide festivities I did something I'd never done before: I threw away a book (or, at least, put it in the recycling bin). I read Ann Tracy's "Winter Hunger" and was absolutely chilled by it, especially the ending. I can't decide whether it was the woman eating her baby or her husband, or the neighbours doing nothing to intervene, which got to me the most. I didn't want it on my shelf, in my house. Usually when I don't want a book anymore, I pass it on to someone else or take it to a charity shop. This time, though, I couldn't even bring myself to do that. So it was into the recycling it went.

I was amazed at the strength of my reaction - I still am - which is, no doubt, a testament to Tracy's writing. Though I still wonder at using this skill to present such an unrelentingly bleak view of human nature (and no I don't agree with the blurb which suggests Tracy makes the case for it being the landscape that "abhors the human presence" and puts in train the catastrophic events). Wouldn't it have been better to use her talent to another end? But perhaps there is no "better", no responsibility of that kind, in writing?