Ave atque Vale

Well now, this is a sort of farewell. An au revoir more than an adieu but a valediction all the same. This morning I switch off most of my connections with the outside world, for I have work to do. I must deliver a book to my publishers by the end of April or my soul and testicles will be forfeit.

Some people can write with ease in whatever circumstances they find themselves. Up a tree, on a bus, in a log cabin, a steamy-windowed café or a tropical beach. Some don’t mind noise, distraction or a broken up day. I, unhappily, am not made of this material. I need peace, absolute peace, an empty diary and zero distraction. I enter a kind of writing purdah, an eremitical seclusion in which there is just me, a keyboard and abundant cups of coffee, all in a room whose curtains have been drawn against the light. I would have added tobacco as a constant and necessary companion, but I stopped smoking some two and half years ago, so no longer will there be the pleasure of having a pipe clamped between the teeth as I grope for the Flaubertian mot juste.

I have a single appointment in London towards the end of January and another in Barcelona a month or so later. Otherwise I shall be as one wiped from the map of human existence. This is how it must be.

All this is a way of saying, of course, that my twitter stream will dry up for that period. No doubt this will come as a relief to some, but I am not so sunk in false modesty as to be unaware that there are loyal followers who will emit long, loud wails of “Noooooooo!” and who will feel pained and dispirited . But I hope they will understand that this is a) imperative and b) temporary. I shall return.

And what of this book? Twelve years ago I wrote a volume of autobiography called Moab Is My Washpot. It is essentially a memoir of childhood and adolescence and ends after our hero is released from prison and contrives, with a year’s probation still to run, to get himself a place at university. The book I must now write will follow on from this. Whether it will be chronological or thematic, first person or third I have no idea. That is the adventure, if I can call it such, that lies before me. The loneliness of writing, or of my kind of writing at least, is absolute. The other week, the excellent @wishdasher tweeted me a line by Paul Tilich: “Language has created the word loneliness to express the pain of being alone and the word solitude to express the glory of being alone.” Whether my reclusive isolation will be painful or glorious remains to be seen. Accept my apologies for what must be and believe me, no one yearns more keenly for the day when I will be able to be back amongst you all.


This blog was posted in General and Miniblog

327 comments on “Ave atque Vale”

  1. grlg33k says:

    I’m a new Twit, and I’ve followed you just so I can await your return. I hope your writing goes more smoothly than you could have imagined.

  2. Parallelogram says:

    Alright Stephen, you’ve inspired me; I’m going to join you. I’ll lock myself away and give life to a paper that desperately wants writing. Happy keyboarding to you and we’ll see you in May!

  3. trixieedgewood says:

    RE: Ave Atque Vale

    Dear Mr. Fry,

    Happy New Year fine Sir! I wish you all the best with your most recent endeavor. I sincerely hope you find the inspiration you so desperately seek. These little ditties are for you.

    While watching some tragical farces,
    The audience had a catharsis.
    Instead of real tears
    They wept with their rears,
    Which proves that catharthis my arse is.


    There once was a brilliant young poet
    Who loved it – wouldn’t you know it?
    When you’d want sity-nine
    His penis would pine
    “I just can’t,” it said; “I can’t go it.”
    (or I would rather you blow it).
    (or… fill in the blank).



    Cheers and cheers.

    Kim Harman

    PS Love, love, loved The Ode Less Travelled. You are one fuckin’ funny ass dude. Thank you for you.

  4. Belgian Bird says:

    Ik ga je missen! x

  5. clarsach19 says:

    Good luck, Stephen! I hope you get the peace and quiet you wish for. Look forward with much anticipation to your return!xxx

  6. Robin Rowlands says:


    We’ll meet again… book store maybe.

  7. atticus says:

    Good Luck Stephen. I will miss you but will really look forward to reading your book when finished.

    Many thanks for the amount of pleasure your tweets have given me so far.

    Hayley Oughton x

  8. David S says:

    Fantastic news!! Not about the impending lack of updates but the follow up to Moab Is My Washpot. I’ve been waiting flippin’ ages for it! Hope it goes well.

  9. Elifant71 says:

    I will miss you while you are away! I will think good thoughts and hope for a period of limited writers block! Just think of us occassionally, and know that we will be waiting for the next tweet, blog, or missive that you might toss our way! I suppose this also means no spots on Bones coming my way too! Oh well. I will also be buried in school work and term papers so I understand the pressure and when you return in April I will also be in need of some respite from my exams! Again, miss you, Love you! and hope the calendar is swift in its countdown to April or whenever you make it back into the twitterality!

  10. RobThomas says:

    About time we had part two of ‘Moab’. I, for one, am more than willing for your rich, mellow tones to fall silent a while, if the resulting tome is anything approaching the painfully exquisite brilliance of its predecessor.

    Shelf watching will commence in my local Waterstones, 8am sharp.

  11. Olga says:

    GGood luck. We wait new novel)

  12. Ginny Lewis says:

    Have become a new twit (well, a new ‘twit-ter’ in an old twit container) thanks to you and now you up and leave – but am looking forward to more Moab – first volume is a treasured book. Will gambol through the twitter fields without you but thanks for hauling me in there.

  13. GirlGatsby says:

    Needless to say you shall be missed; but all the best with the writing, much love, and see you soon. J xxx

  14. ripleymax says:

    Lots of Luck writing your new book. Will really miss you. I am a new Twit. Come back in the spring, when all is viable and abundant.

  15. SpooxXx says:

    Hope all goes well with your writing, Stephen. You will not be alone in spirit: all of your twit followers will be with you. I know how it goes when writing, as I agonise over every word myself.
    May your isolation be glorious solitude, and may the words flow from your finger tips in words of pure gold.


  16. ceeaybee says:

    Mr Fry! :( I will miss your tweets. Much luck with your book! My daughter and I were shocked at your omission from the new year’s honours list. Arise Sir Stepehen in our eyes! You are a leg-end Sir!xx

  17. ceeaybee says:

    Sorry…Sir Stephen!! I really do know there is no ‘e’ after the ‘p’ x

  18. GruffBillyGruff says:

    We’re having a champagne Fry-up – celebrating the demise of a clown. Alas, not Yoricks’ but Sir Stephen of Bollix. The B.O.F. has left town.

  19. saulwordsworth.com says:

    Stephen: By inducing so many titters in all of us over the past twenty five years you have earned the right to do just about anything you wish, so please do not apologise. I for one look forward to poring over the fruits of your self-enforced isolation. Innit.


  20. jau says:

    Unnecessary to add my voice to saying how much you will be missed but here it is. But really I wanted to give Merleau-Ponty credit for the alone-lonely-solitary discourse in which he distinguished the fact of being by oneself from sadness but also from joy. Maybe you have only however much of the sadness you need so as to relish the fact and gain gobs of the joy.

  21. christianh says:

    miss you, good luck on the book mr fry. Absolutely understand.xc

  22. karymaa says:

    I Hope inspiration will come to you like a beautiful princess to adorn your magical seclusion so that you can privilege and rejoice us, and enable us to get into your world, the world of Stephen.
    I can’t wait for this book!!!!!!!!!
    so have peace then and safety and comfort until you come back to our world.
    I’ll be then working in the world of press and media, and also reading and rereading all the classics and classy beauties and magics,among which Moab in my second reading of it!!
    xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx from Rabat, Morocco

  23. neilfairbrother says:

    I look forward to another good read from you dear Stephen. In the meantime, there’s a whole hole in my life, the size and shape of a Quality Street chocolate covered toffee.

  24. Cheesepanini says:

    About bloody time. The book, not the silence. x

  25. Kaatje says:

    The hole where checking for updates on the site and on Twitter used to be will be filled with ridiculous amounts of excitement and anticipation for the sequel of my favourite book of yours so far :D Good luck Mr Fry! I hope that the love of your followers will carry you through the days where the computer is in great danger of being smashed through pure frustration :) Looking forward to April xxx

  26. adrigim says:

    SHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHH He need silence for inspiration!
    miss you……….but I can wait!!
    Good Luck!
    Adrigim from Argentina

  27. Novascotia82 says:

    Just started following you and then you go and become a hermit for a while. :) Doesn’t matter though; you’ll be back. Good luck on the book. Looking forward to it already. Best wishes for 2010 from The Netherlands!

  28. macca says:

    All the very best chap. Will certainly miss the wit and humour that has graced my screens these past months. Good luck with the book.

  29. JohnnieM says:

    Stephen, I am not a twitter’er (if that is the right way to express not being connected to Twitter?!) but jump occasionally into your webbie to see what’s afoot. Whilst reviewing the latest blog I note that the book to which you refer is the next installment of Moab. Excellent news but for me the next book should be another Paperweight (without any articles on the latest gadgetry, if one were to ask for my opinion which, I would guess, one is unlikely to do!) My current copy is well thumbed and many of my friends and family across the world have received gifts of tastefully clean and fresh out of the box versions, with instructions to leave in the “shrine of Cloaca, goddess of the bowel” for many hours of snippet reading. The book is my favourite as it has a little something for everyone. Please do another (or just call your publisher and get him to do it! After all, you’ve done all the hard work!

    An happy new year to you and yours (whatever ‘yours’ may be).

    Johnnie M

  30. annakypros says:

    Illud autem vide, ne ista lectio auctorum multorum et omnis generis voluminum habeat aliquid vagum et instabile. – lol (Seneca Ad Lucilium)

  31. Gary Morris says:

    I am currently writing a novel and have a deadline tugging at my trousers. I was in full flow (rare) only to be distracted by this announcement – and distracted enough to leave this message – who knows what mellifluous prose will have vanished into the ether as a result (probably not much to be honest)? I am cheered by the irony but not enough to temper the sadness as I regard both the cyber-void that awaits and the imagined loss of that great paragraph I could have written instead… Enjoy the solitude! Gary Morris

  32. electricboo says:

    Having just read “Moab is my washpot” and now ripping through “The Liar”, all I can say is, whilst I will miss your Twittering I shall prevail and eagerly await the next installment of your literary accomplishments. Was that pretentiously eloquent enough? *G*

    I won’t lie to you, Mr Fry, I will miss you but it will be worth it in the end! Kisses Boo. xxx

  33. Voguedotcom says:

    Hate to see you temporarily leave us on the net, Stephen! I, and I am sure, many others, enjoy your daily tweets and find pleasure reading your blogs. However, I am looking forward to purchasing and reading the fruits of your written labour when it is done!!
    Stephen Fry – You are a Legend, sir!

  34. scarlett amy says:

    God speed to you with your writing dear Mr Fry, i have some QI episodes to catch up on, so that is some comfort. I wish you all the best with your venture. xx

  35. moleend says:

    What ho! Seclusion and peace……you will be the envy of us all! I shall laze about in our summer of 2010 and enjoy the many treats that have arrived by the deity of DVDs (Amazon) Cold Comfort Farm, Kingdom, and Wilde.
    A touch of dearly loved and missed, Thora Hird in “Hallelujah!” They can’t keep the old girls down even when they have pasted on! After “surfing” to my content I encounter your documentary “Stephen Fry HIV & Me”. Being a member of the HIV club, I appreciate all the time and effort you have placed in making this film. Much has changed, and so much has not. The work continues in Australia though ACON Health (Aids Council of NSW) to support the “members” and develop strategies and campaigns to enlighten those who are ignorant or complacent with their lives. The young are not, sadly, invincible!
    Work hard and safe! Plenty of water Mr Fry! Keep your hydration and electrolytes!
    Enjoy Barcelona! My partner and I met two charming men from Sitges on our travels in Malaysia. We look forward to travelling there in 2011. It is a great pleasure when you bond with some people immediately and have the feeling that you have known them for years, when , in fact, it is only a few days. Such is the wonderment of friendship!
    We will think of you in your quite environment and hope the words flow and you book becomes, as usual, a great success to you and an enjoyment for us you admirers afar.
    Many hugs from “down under”

    Mr Mole
    Riverbank via Toadvillia

  36. Cernobbio says:

    Come back to us very soon. Meanwhile, I will endure the heat of Sydney, watch the Cricket and go for a swim at Balmoral occasionally – in Sydney, not UK. The Germans are visiting – so tempting to mention the War. I restrain myself ;-)

  37. colinled says:

    how to post a blog on this web

  38. jeannie1960 says:

    Good Luck with your book. If you need a helping hand, Im looking for a job, even if its just cleaning after you lol. Have fun


  39. MAMK says:

    I take inspiration in your actions and will do the same (or rather, similar steps) in order to finish my doctoral thesis. Let’s call it Fry-time (Free-time)

  40. justis says:

    Dear Stephen, If you are at all like I believe you to be, then you will not be able to resist just slighly checking your comments at some point to avoid … well…whatever. Just thought if you get tired of ‘meals for one’ – then I am a visiting Aussie, ex chef in a past life, visiting Fakenham (and yes perhaps this is why I am offering to cook you dinner). Good Luck writing. Stay focused, if you can… if not – I can be there in 30. xJustis

  41. mazzledazzle85 says:

    I hope your writing goes well and I look forward to your next book. They have been a source of entertainment and comfort for me, living in a different culture that often confuses and frustrates me. Please hurry back and I hope 2010 brings you nothing but happiness in whatever form it decides to take!xxx

  42. Flavia says:


    Oh well – I’ll wait ’til you get back. :-)

  43. Berta says:

    Good luck!xxx

  44. LadyGirlPerson says:

    Stephen, we love you. Of course you need to work because every time you do we get the gift of your brilliance. Your tweets will be missed, but the idea of being able to devour a book of yours… is heavenly.

    I do feel selfish for wanting the book and your tweets at the same time, but I get it. I do. We all do. … will miss you terribly.

    Thank you for sharing your thoughts and passions, every tweet was sweet.

  45. Nick Towers says:

    Mr. Fry, your actions have driven me to relocate to a village in Northern Thailand in order to reduce the harm you can do to me in future. I breathe a sigh of relief as you decide to close down your internet connection. We may be able to coexist peacefully from now on.

    Good luck to you.


  46. adamjacobbryant says:

    Adding to the chorus, i wish you luck and discipline for your enforced seclusion. My tweets will be rare on your absence, with you being only one of two that I can bear to follow (the other being @annabelcrabb if anyone is interested in following a great young Australian political journalist).

    Your most recent tweet alerted me to the presence of your website. Hopefully the 3 months you have off will give me time to get up to date with it, so we will be synced by the time you start back.

    Good Luck

  47. jeannie17 says:

    Very good luck, and speedy writing! XXXXXX

  48. Michael K. Dixon says:

    Hello Stephen such a shame to have missed you yet with Mobile issues on Twitter I could not send message. Ah, so, writing is it. I found your book while browsing Waterstones (Windsor) ‘Moab’ – so many altered connections and childhood memories. Brilliantly written. Am loving every moment. So the segue begins. Don’t change your style, roam randomly – take the adventure where it needs to go and make the journey back safely. As with so many others, you shine a light where others have dimmed and bring sanity full circle to face itself again. Look forward to the time of your return. Don’t over-water the tea. Michael ITR

  49. TheresaBKLYN says:

    Just adding my good wishes to the flood (Patting you on head).

  50. ScarletNoir says:

    Well done, Sir. I am a ‘newbee’ to messaging the websites of famous types, but I know that your next book has been, for me, a long time in the writing. I have walked into Waterstone’s and headed straight to ‘F’ for a long time know, having quickly devoured each offering as it appeared over the years. Look forward to it taking me through the next difficult week of my life! Thank you for everything so far – long may it continue!

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