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. smellyrhino says:

    Good luck finishing your book. You are not alone, I suffer in similar agony, especially with deadlines!

    I am a fan, and find myself becoming hysterical just watching you!

  2. fibrochimp says:

    Now I actually have to watch the darts to know what’s happening :(
    Write long and well, comeback soon.

  3. MehisSoomre says:

    I have to say, as I read this post, being elegantly late as it was written already a week before, I nearly wet myself in the most wettest of ways of wetting oneself. This is how much I adore your work. No other writer could ever make me react in such a way. I especially adore Moab is My Washpot, and I just, implementing the most stereotypical phrase I can imagine, can’t bloody wait for your next book to be published. Will also sincerely miss your tweets with their recurring humour and eloquence, which have kept me company all throughout my time with Twitter.

    Sincerely awaiting your return to the Twitter world and your new book, Mr. Fry.

    Your Number One Estonian admirer

  4. Mirna says:

    All the best and good luck to you!!

  5. Gmonster says:

    Well, ‘a man’s got to do what a man’s got to do’…and I’m sure you’ll do well with the new book. Take care Stephen, have a fantastic year ahead and stay brilliant.

    בהצלחה מכל הלב.

    All the best x

  6. ccgong says:

    I just finished reading Liar and halfway finished listening to the audio version of Paperweight. Airline companies have wronged me greatly this Christmas, and you were my only comfort during the expensive and uncomfortable flights, 12 of them in total there are. So much I love you now that I found myself with a dumb grin on my face whenever I heard your voice, regardless of the content of which you were speaking. You will be the main source of reason (you and BBC radio four) if I ever wind up studying in a University in England, getting married and sending my future children to English public schools.

    Just to be sure – do you have a much younger brother who’s straight? :)


  7. petebee says:

    I was trying to think of a post that would sum up how I’m feeling about your cyber sabbatical, but LadyGirlPerson pretty much summed it up. VERY much looking forward to your return. And to the book to; I’ve re-read The Liar so many times now that the mention of some new material from your good self has got me in quite a tizz x

  8. liberatortoo says:

    Yipeeeee! I’ve so been looking forward to this next instalment of Sir Stephen’s life. Very impressive that he’s going to write the next volume in only four months. It took be about a week to come up with these little lines.

  9. libithina says:

    Dear Stephen well you have to do what you have to do, as I know that what will transpire from your good self through your self imposed isolation (with sharpie at the ready) will be great!! I eagerly look forward to digesting your every word .. peace out .. hugs you Libithina xxx

  10. yazsmum says:

    I too admire from afar…

  11. brenday says:

    Dear Mr Fry
    You having caught my eye over the years, I deduce you to be quite normal. You do frightfully dreadful TV yet have moments of brilliance. My daughter, a cambridge grad, would like to father your babies.
    I would give my blessing.
    Mrs B. Tucker Lowell

  12. AlfnPolly says:

    I’m sure I speak for the majority of the planet when I say..”hurry back, we need you” :) The very best of luck with the book, we know it’s going to be a fabulous read!! Much love xxxx

  13. CarolB says:

    Good luck with your work! Carol

  14. sjmooredotcom says:

    Counting the days, the hours, the minutes , the uninteresting things to read!
    Just write faster! Come back soon!
    Very missed……x

  15. arkady62 says:

    Best of luck with the book. I also want to thank you. It was only such a small, simple little thing…walking whilst listening to an audio book. It has totally motivated me. Thank you for that.

  16. Snozzwangler says:

    Thank you for the warning. I am sure that I am not the only one who would have been very worried, had you just disappeared. I knew this day would come, anyone who has read MOAB can see that there is a lot left for you to say.

    Good luck with the book. I hope it does not prove to be too difficult. I know the hardship of delving into the past. I offer an eternal shoulder to cry on. xox Fi

  17. BTMR says:

    Well thats why and where you have gone – our dear friend and supporter.
    All the best and may your efforts be fruitful !!
    Our intention during yuour absence is to continue the battle with the Molehills – Snow and Ice peremitting – as with you – the next few months will be hectic but focussed.
    Remember all those who need to find one –


    is here to help.
    Hurry back and we look forward to a good read when you are in a state of achievement.

    FRom your mates at – The Traditional Molecatchers Register

  18. Everett Morris says:

    As everyone has said, to no doubt, is that your absense will be noted. As a first time author, I must agree that silence and solitude would definitely be a beautiful thing, unfortunately, some of us can’t get away that long and we use the noise around us as inspiration and that mental soundtrack which helped write the one particular chapter on the insane. We only look forward to your ultimate conclusion and magnificent success. Thank you, Mr. Fry for your contribution to making our lives a bit better.

  19. projectbrainsaver says:

    Good luck with your … everything (-:

  20. meganduffy says:

    good luck to you and i promise i will read at least one of your books before posting again…. in all due time…

    luck and hopefully no writers cramp,

    megan x

  21. JasminePhoenix says:

    Wonderful stuff, glad to hear it. Not the mad typing recluse for four months bit… that bit is tragic, I know, I am a writer myself. But glad nonetheless to hear that ambition triumphed! It’s tedious work and tough but the rewards… oh, the rewards :D Keep it up! Cheers :)

    I quote the great Harpo Marx, as rule one of his own family rules:
    “Life has been created for you to enjoy, but you won’t enjoy it unless you pay for it with some good, hard work. This is one price that will never be marked down.”

  22. LeglessCats says:

    Ah, this explains why my Twitter page suddenly went boring within the last two weeks. I’m inattentive sometimes, so I got sad and worried that Twitter had very specifically broken and was only letting through descriptions of backaches, yarn, and lunch menus. I feel better knowing you’re writing. Enjoy yourself (if you aren’t already finished–I am so late to everything) and please hurry back, we miss you :(

  23. ann keegan says:

    Good luck with the book.
    If you do venture on here at some point looking for a distraction, watch this short but moving film. Hope the link works. x


  24. jdhunt says:

    Bit slow on the uptake as to your absence. But absolutely delighted you are writing a sequel to Moab. Was immensely frustrated on reaching the end of it and wanted to hear so much more about the early days and the G&W phenomena. Love the fact that my alma mater featured in some of the shows.

  25. miny123 says:

    As i recall Stephen, oone of your heros, Oscar Wilde, also needed such quietude to create his works of genius. So we will wait and be patient and garb ourselves in sackloth and ashes untill you return to fill our night sky will fireworks once again.

    Stephen Fry, we pray you will once again make us all by turn, laugh and cry and wriggle with delight, You are indeed Fry, and we are indeed waiting.

    P.S. Hows about a free signed copy for being a smart arse? No?, Oh well, i tried. X

  26. Norman P says:

    Should you need a friend to help call I am full of wit, always bored, and I love to write, nevr published but live in hope, and wallow in creative pain.

  27. amunozjr says:

    Good luck!

  28. emmatougher says:

    Gud Luck kind Sir in writing yr book and that it is as good as the last which I will need to purchase at some point soon as sooo behind in my reading and trying to read tooo many books at once (oops) have a few books written by folks of my or older generation but I do like a good Enid Blyton, Judy Blume and Lemmony Snickett book for the teenage crew but trying to catch up. although The Horse Whisperer I could not put down and read several times more.

    So Bye for now as this is not the end but the beginning of a new chapter.

    Emma from Ashbourne in the lovely Peak District
    (very good for peace and quiet from the Big Smoke)

    Ps I couldn’t stop laughing soo much when u were in the New St Trinian’s film as the Quiz master and the gentlemanly and femine Rupert Everett as Miss Camila Fritton.

  29. Oubliett_e says:


    | have no idea why one should indeed even be tempted to write sycophantic encouragement to you in during your literary endeavour and self enforced encaseration in your own private tower, as your certainly do not need it, and are in reality, unlikely to even cast your eyes upon it’s very feeble endeavours.

    However – good luck with it, and don’t let the fuckers grind you down!

    Helen Heaven (Swindon – twinned with Disney World Florida)

    Who hath spent a goodly part of this evening, re-visiting your splendid visitation of America and sampling ones very own first ever Elderberry wine vintage. Both it must be said have made for a very pleasant evening.

  30. miec says:

    The very best of luck with the book. I have only just read ‘Moab is my washpot’ and it was fantastic, it was the best autobiography that I have ever read so far and I joined the site to see if you had written a later installment so I was delighted to read that you are working on it at the moment. I really look forward to it when it comes out. Moab read like a novel even though I know it was your life. You are an amazing writer, presenter (huge QI fan) and generally a really good, very humane person. May your writing flow and that there is a minimum of wading through mud like feeling. (I write myself and love the former and detest the latter).

    Best of luck and thank you for this website.

  31. JANET24 says:

    We are going to miss your erudite and fascinating comments on the twitter network, but good luck with the book. I too require peace, preferably with birdsong as a background, in order to write.

  32. Darwinschurch says:

    Whether its the post xmas stress of coursework deadlines or absent mindedness, but I only just noticed the absence of tweets. I hope the book flows well and you don’t develop as bad a caffeine habit as moi. Think I might try the complete silence with no distractions approach to studying, I leave you with a quote: Simplicity is the last step of art and the beginning of nature.

  33. EvilSpinster says:

    After the joy of reading ‘Salmon of Doubt’ and discovering the h2g2 website, I found further excitement in discovering a link to your website, only to find that you’ve buggered off to write your book! Ah well, I guess if it’s taken me this long to get this far, then I can be a little more patient and at least I’ll have a new book to look forward to reading one day.
    From one who finds distraction far too easily……all the very best with writing your book.

  34. enajdlofnep says:

    I had decided to make more of an effort on twitter, found myself here and realised that it is ok to be quiet. I shall do similar but look forward to your return. Hope the writing is going ok – only another 2 months. Yikes or great, depending on how you’re doing.

  35. Billquayforever says:

    Honestly. Locking yourself away like that. You ought to be ashamed. Come out into the light, Fry, or something. Enjoy the enforced solitude, I admire your resolve.

  36. perthect says:

    I picked a great time to follow you. Guess you are worth the wait.

  37. ladycourtney says:

    Why do I always have to be late for these things? Good luck with the book, Stephen — I’m sure you’ll create something brilliant, as usual. On a side note: I’m currently reading The Ode Less Traveled, which I’m enjoying very much.

    Maybe I will write you a poem when you get back.

    Courtney x

  38. ClaraOaky says:

    Great to hear about your new book….Moab grabbed me instantly and left me wondering many a thing…so maybe later this year those questions will be answered…good luck….congratulations on your awards, and look forward to your next masterpiece. x

  39. kattikins says:

    Good luck with your book, Best things in life are worth waiting for :-) xxxxx

  40. polyfoni says:

    just a bravo and may you reign for many many years! you sir have the literary “Midas” touch :

  41. hasyourmothersoldhermangle says:

    Best of luck with your book Mr Fry. I wish I could write as quickly as you and with as much style and panache. You are an inspiration good Sir! :)

  42. The Debbler says:

    Best of luck with the book. I’m a writer myself and am very fussy about my surroundings when I write, even down to having to have particular people near by, the kind of pen I use and the cup I drink my coffee from. Crazy I know. Congratulations on such a well deserved award this evening. The contribution you have made to the media, particularly in recent years has been important, informative and highly enjoyable. xx

  43. gmcarthur says:

    Missing your twitterings as I am, I cannot help but agree with you. I too need total quiet and solitude when writing – alas I am unable to withdraw totally. I hope your writing withdrawal proves fruitful and you meet your deadlines.

    On another note, my hearty congratulations on your NTA Award. Well earned and truly deserved. Well done.


  44. Ayabi says:

    I absolutely adore you, you ARE our National Treasure, I watch everything you are in and I was in tears last night watching the National TV Awards when you were awarded a Lifetime Achievement Award, so very well deserved! i loved all the comments from your chums and colleagues. WELL DONE YOU!!!

  45. WilhelminaMarcus says:

    Good luck, Stephen! Hope to see you around soon.
    Best Wishes!
    Mina Marcus

  46. Sandocham says:

    Good luck my friend, I’m sure it will be amazing! I couldn’t put the first one down until I finished it (which happened to be 4am when I had a 9 o’clock seminar…). All the best x

  47. Maureen says:

    Only just caught up with this after the tweets from the NTA. Congratulations Stephen on your extremely well deserved win.

    I had wondered why the Twittersilence, and have missed your tweets, but if in exchange for a few weeks internet silence we will in due course be able to read a book anywhere near as wonderful as Moab, it is a fair exchange indeed.

    And thanks for the advance explanation – even if some of us are tardy in reading it.

  48. nrem37 says:

    I love you stephen, the world needs more people like you, I’ve admired your wonderful words and honest reflections for many years and i feel sure your new book will be a triumph, look forward to your return xxxxxxxxx

  49. StephenM says:

    Lashings of congratulations on your success last night at the NTA event. I have a question regarding your visit to Barcelona. Are you visiting for a private meeting or a public event. I ask because Barcelona is my home and if you’re giving a public talk would LOVE to attend.
    The very best of luck with part two of ‘Moab’.
    Stephen x

  50. pagan.hare says:

    I am so relieved. I read your twitter post and almost died…lol! I’m as bad, I can be so easily distracted by other things. For me, with dealines, I’d be better being shipped to a desert island or possibly mars!

    I look forward to your new book. Hope all goes well and I look forward to seeing your return.

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