I’m in the strange limbo after a book release, still digesting and percussing from that experience, and yet kind of distanced. I’m also in strange limbo of coming back from a trip overseas where I have to collect up my normal life and remember what it is that I do with myself and that I’m a writer who is not, currently, writing anything.
I have been loudly announcing that I’ll spend the summer working on one of my two novel drafts (that is, two novels in draft) or even starting on one of the novels I’ve got notes and plans for but no draft. Hmm. An excellent plan. I really must think about doing it some day.
As often is the case, I can actually feel the bitey energy of writing coming up in me, but as is almost always the case, I resist it. Argh: procrastination, and fear. I am one of those writers who, apart from dutifully filing columns and other freelancing stuff, works only in great bursts a few times a year–I’m very fast when I do it, can turn out half a book in a week or so. Which is useful! But frustrating and disconcerting as well, because I think: if I can write a book in a month, why, I could write several books a year! But I don’t.
Apart from In My Skin, which was written in dribs and drabs over the course of a year during which I also did 5 subjects in a writing program and a lot of other writing for fun, all my books have been worked on when I was away at a retreat or a residency. But this is no way to proceed! Residencies are a privilege and a treat, not a modus operandi.
I’m reading Daphne du Maurier’s memoir of her youth, Myself When Young, and she relates writing her first book alone in her family holiday home in Cornwall, shut in a room with a fountain pen and rain beating on the windows, a housekeeper bringing toast and making supper by the fire for later. This sounds more like it. It reminds me of a blissful time when I stayed in my brother-in-law’s holiday house on the coast in Kent, days researching local history in the library, going for big thinky bike rides through the countryside, afternoons reading and writing in the house, solitary and cosy and utterly happy. Or Rome, when I arrived in August 2008 and it was so hot outside the only thing was to pull the shutters down, strip naked and pour glass after glass of blood orange juice and write my strange New Weird novel in a trance all afternoon (kudos to Because of Ghosts, Les Voix Bulgares and the soundtrack to The Fountain for musical inspiration).
I hate to say it but I think I am a princess and need a place to write that is not my office which is, of course, my workplace. My friend Alice and I have decided to spend days in the State Library this summer working on our books. It’s not quite the coastal town with housekeeper, but I must have a go. Am considering putting out a call for a spare holiday house out of season: surely some person with a spare house would love to let me have it for a month? Right? Oh, if only.
Meanwhile, the desk, the paperwork, the Scrabble games, the day going on, it’s already midday.