I'm a long time fan of the late P. D. James and her admirable mysteries. When a friend lent me James's 'fragment of an autobiography', I leapt in.
It is, indeed, a fragment -- it's a record of her seventy-seventh year --places visited, events attended, honors won, people met -- interspersed with looks backward at her life and reflections on aging. (The title comes from Dr. Samuel Johnson's assertion that at seventy-seven, it's time to be in earnest about one's life. I shall keep that in mind as I frivol away the rest of my seventy-sixth year.)
There is some excellent advice for would-be writers: ". . . read widely, not in order to copy someone else's style, but to learn to appreciate and recognize good writing, and to see how writers have achieved their results. Poor writing is, unfortunately, infectious and should be avoided.
"Practise writing in whatever form; the craft is learned by practicing it, not by talking about it . . .
"Increase your vocabulary; the raw material of the writer is words and the more we have available and can use effectively and with confidence the better.
"Welcome experience. This means going through life with all senses open: observing, feeling, relating to other people. Nothing that happens to a writer need ever be lost."
Speaking of good writing, here's a lovely paragraph from the book that resonates now, at the vernal equinox as the daffodils and crocuses bloom and the weeping cherry is veiled in palest pink to welcome Spring:
"I stood for a moment in complete silence broken only by the note of a single bird and the susurration of the breeze in the wayside grasses. It was one of those moments of happiness and contentment which give reality to death since, however long we have to live, there are never enough springs."