I'm slow at writing and I don't think that will ever change. I've written three books now, that have taken a total of 15 years, but it takes as long as it takes. Still, the most wonderful part is getting to the end and realising you've got a book. That's the best bit. And I think I'll leave nursing to those wonderful professionals who make the world a better place.
The Bay of Shadows is available now.
At the time, I had an idea that I would go into nursing - Heaven knows why this seemed an appropriate career for a daydreamer, but the decision was made for me in my final year of High School on account of my abysmal grasp of maths, chemistry, and anything else science related. I never saw writing - at least, that of a novelist - as a job option, so settled for something approximate when I started an undergraduate journalism course. Fast forward 20 years later and my life as a journalist is now a distant memory for two simple reasons: One, I was really bad at it - who wants to knock on a criminal's door at three in the afternoon and ask if he has time for "a quick chat"? - and secondly, because I was really bad at it I'd rather not remember!
The one thing that hasn't changed, however, is my routine. In the early years, even when I was writing from the relative comfort of a beanbag, I always got dressed for the day, even if only trackies and comfy T-shirts. It was the right approach from the outset because it gave me a sense of discipline, and an understanding that lounging around in pyjamas was counterproductive on every front. And while my seating arrangements may have changed, I still get out of my jammies, because not only do I want to feel good but I want to give the writing the respect it deserves. My writing spaces are different too but the set-up is always the same: a desk in the corner of the room, preferably away from the window, and a plastic Pokey looking down on me from atop the monitor. He's been on every computer I've had for the past 20 years so I reckon he's doing something right. I am at my happiest here, even on those frustrating days, because this is my dream come to life, word by word.
I do wish I was at the point where I knew the writing was good, or even halfway competent, but I'm accepting it may never happen. And I'm fine with that. That's the beauty of writing - you can always go back and change it. The most important thing, as my High School English teacher told me all those years ago, is just to write something, anything. It doesn't have to be any good, but as long as it's there on the page you can revisit it later. That is the other beauty of writing: revisions. The first draft is the idea, the subsequent drafts are the breathing of life into the story, in the same way Zeus breathed life into the clay figure of Pandora.
I am finished by noon. I wish I could write all day, and have tried, but for me there is only a short burst of inspiration and then I'm done. The main problem with working from home is that you can become so easily immersed in what you are doing you can forget about the world out there. It is for the best of the writing, and for sanity too, just to call it a day and go do something else. This is for me swimming here, where the world literally and figuratively washes away...
WHEN I WAS IN high school I had my first real indication about what I might do as a career. My English teacher - who, through sheer determination, managed to teach Shakespeare's Romeo and Juliet to a bunch of Year Nine students through role play. Mercutio had never looked so menacing as when played by a gangly teenage boy armed with a plastic ruler as a sword - saw a spark of something in me and set herself the task of bringing to life my love of language. Enter the composition classes where you had 40 minutes to write about something, anything, just write. And so I did...
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