Community

If you ever need self-analysis, don't bother wasting money on some expert, just do it yourself, and here's the easy way - once again, I'm drawn to musing on something I've learned about me whilst becoming a writer.

It's to do with community.

I've often been told there's a great sense of my beloved Devon in the tvdetective books, and I'm proud that's the case.

One of the reasons I love dear Devon so much is the feeling of community, and belonging to something special, unique and important. It persists here, whereas in so many places it's been eroded away.

I love the way in so many towns and villages people know each other and are happy and keen to help each other - be neighbours, not strangers - but even more than that...

They want to retain the sense of a place as not just a group of individuals, but a community, a place with its own spirit and identity. And that means so much.

At the weekend, I had the honour of opening the new Book Exchange, in the village of Woodbury Salterton in east Devon.

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(that's a bag of books I donated, not my shopping, in case you were wondering.)

What struck me was the spirit in the community. They'd lost their village post office, but weren't prepared to lose a hub, a focus for the village. And so came the idea for the book exchange, where people can pick up and leave reading for each other.

And it works - I was amazed how many people turned out to celebrate the official opening of the exchange, and how happy they were to stand and chat together.

For me, that's the secret to keeping communities alive. It's all in the fight.

If you let the spirit slip away, it's so hard to restore. But here's to great places like Woodbury Salterton, for battling for their very souls for the good of all.

And for giving me some wonderful places to live and work in, and to write about...