My last blog, but that sounds a little final so I’d better add ‘in this series’. If I measure output against time spent then, to my surprise, I’ve found writing a blog to be quite hard work. If worked over too much, then it can come over as studied and artificial: if ‘you go where the muse takes you’, then we’re back to the ‘self indulgent ramble’ again. I’ve probably been guilty of both.
Even if I can’t hope to emulate them, I’m always interested in ‘how’ other writers set about writing. The office situated well away from your home has its attractions. Of course, theoretically, you are liberated from domestic distractions and so can focus your mind totally on the work in hand. In my case I rather suspect the ‘focus’ would shift fairly naturally to ‘I really must oil those door hinges’ or, ‘isn’t it time for a cuppa?’
Certainly I do my ‘best’ thinking whilst out walking. The problem is you do keep meeting other walkers and they will persist in chatting. What do you do? Carry a sandwich board saying ‘author at work – do not disturb!’ Cultivate a permanent, menacing grimace and hope people will be put off? You may write a best seller, whilst at the same time, collecting your local ‘curmudgeon of the year’ award.
Another option – regrettably not open to all – is to get right away from it all. The other day my paper carried an extract from Arnold Bennet’s diaries who, while staying on the Riviera and admiring the view, congratulated himself on completing two thousand words before lunch. Ah, chance would be such a fine thing!
Of course, working abroad carries with it, its own problems. Laurie Lee lost the whole of the initial m/s for ‘As I walked out one midsummer morning’, while travelling in Spain. Obviously he managed to reconstruct it, but it must have been a hammer blow. Could I reconstruct if such an accident happened? Probably . . . but it would be a different book . . . maybe an even be better one. Somehow, I don’t think I’ll travel any further down that particular road.
Then there are those insomniacs who claim to rise at 4 a.m. and complete God knows how many thousand words before breakfast. Well good for them I say. Personally I would find that worrying about door hinges can be done just as easily in bed as out of it.
Interesting as all these approaches are, there is nothing I can ‘poach’ to help my own writing process. I suppose superglue on the seat of the computer chair might help to concentrate the mind on the task in hand, but that carries with it its own problems – generally involving the local fire brigade. No, I’ll just have to carry on as always with long periods grinding out pitiful dribs and drabs interspaced with frenetic but all too infrequent bursts of creativity. It’s not particularly romantic, but I think it’s probably how most of us work.
Next week it’s the turn of Dr Kim Fleet. She will be blogging about her thriller ‘Sacred Site’ which will shortly be appearing on the website as a 2009 title.
For those of you still following the blog, thanks for sticking with me – I just hope it hasn’t been too painful. I have replied to Caroline and Ben, and thank Andrew and Rick for their comments too. The way we are all supporting each other is wonderful.