And so on(wards)

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.

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2 Responses to And so on(wards)

  1. Lu says:

    Dear Kate, I do hope that someone out there provides some kind of writer’s refuge for you this summer. I recently celebrated a 40sth b’day with a gift to self of your 2 books. Having read them both back to back in a few days, I am now yearning for a different book from you. I would love to see a book of your vignettes (preferably illustrated) which combines your views on travel, luurve, passion & special places that have caught your interest over the years. You are such a gifted travel writer! I adore your evocation of place and as an Italian/Australian I simply love the way you are able to distill those two contra-opposing worlds. Please please write another book more like a travelogue. Above all, please please keep writing! Buon natale, Lu

    • kate says:

      Hi Lu and thank you, I promise to put those royalties (about $6) to good use! Bless you for indulging my princessy plea for writing refuge, really I should stop being so spoiled and just get on with writing (new year’s resolution #2). It’s a paradox that though I’ve spent the past five years writing my heart out with freelancing and commissions for short pieces I have only two books published (though of course I’m lucky to have them out in the world). I’m just glad that you like the small pieces and thank you for the compliments on the travel writing, I am in awe of good travel writers and usually despair that I could ever do anything as good, but I enjoy trying. And I’m extremely chuffed that you think I catch a bit of the essence of Italy, which I love so dearly.

      If I can ever persuade a publisher to put together all my bits and bobs I will do so delightedly; in the meantime, wish me luck with this bloody novel I’m working on. I’m determined not to squander this nice quiet wet summer!

      Buon natale to you too and auguri for the new year

      xxxx Kate

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