There’s a lot of serious illness in my family. Too much.

It’s the sort of thing that makes a person always tensed for bad news.

Waiting for the next shoe to drop, however, there’s time for taking stock. Nothing so maudlin as counting one’s blessings, but just a few reminders about how things could be worse.

  1. Despite the insane popularity of horrible dystopian novels, our part of the world is not yet flooded, blackened or destroyed by nuclear war.
  2. Vampires do not really exist.
  3. I trust that none of the readers of my blog lives in a garbage dump in Sierra Leone.
  4. Published writers, your last book sales were probably not what you hoped, but at least someone is still publishing your books and people are still reading books. As my friend the clarinetist so aptly pointed out, he’s never going to sell a million CDs. Or even 10,000.  Writers always have hope for the next one.
  5. More things are curable now than they were 100 years ago.  Not enough things, though.
  6. We are, among my readership, not persecuted for being black or Jewish or female or muslim or critical of the government.
  7. Hot water.  Water.
  8. Food. Education. The NHS (those of us in the UK).
  9. Not yet entirely demented.
  10. Good play at the National Theatre last night.

I’ve taken to making bread (I know, I know) because it’s much much easier than it looks and fits in with sitting around all day writing. Today, after a week of hmmm batches, it came out perfect. That made me happy for a few minutes. Now if only modern medicine combined with much-needed luck could cure my nephew.

In the meantime, let’s not complain about the weather.



20 thoughts on “Life is better (and worse) than you think.

  1. Francesca Simon 6 years ago


    1. Meg Rosoff 6 years ago

      In one short week I’ve discovered that bread “recipes” aren’t the point. The key to delicious chewy bread seems to be to make a ‘biga’ or ‘poolish’ or pre-ferment first, ie, the night before (bread flour, water, yeast). This takes about five minutes. Then you make the bread dough the next morning which incorporates the pre-ferment — about another five minutes. Let it rise all day. Then you knead it ten minutes and let it rise overnight and cook it for half an hour in the morning. It sounds long-winded, but it’s 99% waiting. Totally perfect to do while you’re writing. And all the times and measures are approximate, it’s not a precise art. You can do everything much faster, but it doesn’t taste as amazing. It still tastes pretty good though.

  2. Cathi Rae 6 years ago

    Am envious of the bread and of course you are right, it is so easy to focus on the negative and forget how good life can be, even when bad things are happening.
    I am very impressed with the depth of your Sunday morning thoughts, I am still at the shall I have more toast stage ( and my sliced loaf is not nearly as tempting as yours looks)

  3. nicola baird 6 years ago

    Fabulous bread. Obviously I’m rather missing the point, but small pleasures (accumulated) give most of us the strength to cope with all sorts of stresses and sadnesses. Good luck dealing with the illness in your family. Nicola

    1. nicola baird 6 years ago

      Thank you. She’s got some v interesting ideas. Nicola.

  4. Tom Clempson 6 years ago

    It’s always a shame when it takes something big and bad to put things in perspective (but sometimes a good holiday can do the same job). Here’s to looking on the bright side and hoping for the best (especially for unwell family members).

  5. Candy Gourlay 6 years ago

    I am so sorry to hear of family illness – it’s always random, it’s ALWAYS unfair and it always sucks. And I think when you’re going through crap you are allowed to recognize how crap it is and swear and kick things. And then when you celebrate the good things, each shinier thing is shinier. Hugs.

    (and yes, water. When I become a gazillionaire my dream is to bring potable water to the whole of the Philippines)

    1. Meg Rosoff 6 years ago

      A noble aspiration. We appreciate water so little. And thanks for your good wishes.

  6. Erika W 6 years ago

    Health yes…I am in hospital tomorrow for a hip replacement.

    My favorite bread recipes are on bread recipes

    Since discovering her I have been baking all our bread again.

  7. Lois Peterson 6 years ago

    Breadmaking for me is an almost meditative practice. And a perfect way to pace a day at home – allowing time between proofing, kneading, baking and eating to read, write, catch up on phone calls, listen to music – with something wonderful to eat at the end of it. I hope the few hours breadmaking from time to time helps you through difficult times.

  8. Laurel 6 years ago

    Meg, so sorry to hear of illness in your family; healing wishes to your nephew. Your blog made my Sunday morning (it’s still before 8 AM over here). But I must say I believe women on this side of the pond ARE currently being persecuted. Sandra Fluke, for example. And Rush Limbaugh is dead serious when he says that “When women got the right to vote is when it all went downhill.”

    Ditto on the water. Oh wait, I didn’t mean it is running downhill. More coffee needed here. Warm regards.

  9. Lucy Coats 6 years ago

    Kneading bread is a great healer. Also pizza dough. Thank you for the reminder to count my blessings, Meg.

  10. Jake Elliott 6 years ago

    Am I the only one who thinks this could be a good side business?
    Come and get your fresh, hot loaf and a copy of my new novel!
    Free loaf with every purchase!
    I’d pay.

  11. Eliza 6 years ago

    There is nothing so unfair as when young people get ill. It always happens to the nicest people who definitely don’t deserve it.

  12. Jasmine 6 years ago

    I’m so sorry to hear of illness in your family, Meg, and I hope your nephew gets well soon. Thank you for reminding me in all these awful moments, especially of teenage-hood, that things get better. I am very grateful to you and your books for always being there for me 🙂

  13. from an anonymous student in worcester 6 years ago

    Hi Meg. I’ve had an upsetting summer too, what with one of my friends being ill and Mum being in hospital but your positivity made me laugh and smile a lot. Good for you for staying positive and sorry to hear about your nephew. 🙂

  14. Barbaroos 6 years ago

    All the best for your nephew! And you have made me considering baking bread again. Without breadbake-machine.

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