The luxury of choice.

Peace! There is peace in my house! The girls have gone back to school! And I had a treat this morning because my husband did the school run so I didn’t have to get dressed. Hence I am sitting in front of my computer at 8:30am in my pyjamas. Fun and lazy though the holidays are, I do appreciate the time on my own when the girls are at school. It’s such a luxury to want/need to write and then be able to choose to do so with no interruptions. They have only been back three days and already I’ve managed to complete the prologue and first three chapters of my WIP (work in progress for the uninitiated) to my satisfaction and send them off to my agent for her opinion. This is absolutely a nerve-wracking thing to do; if she likes it then that means I have someone waiting to read the full manuscript when it’s completed and quite possibly handle it for me if she thinks the time and the market are right, but if she doesn’t then that means she will not show any interest in it ever again. Which rather leaves me in the position of writing it solely for myself or deciding to write something new. And this WIP is still such a fledgling manuscript, I’ve only written 15,797 words, it feels like a real baby of a work. The plans are there but little else, I have no chapter outlines or detailed notes yet so I feel very protective of it. I think if I had written more and had a better sense of confidence about it I’d be more relaxed and able to accept whatever judgement comes back to me. But it isn’t until around 25,000 words that I really feel like I’m properly holding the reins on the manuscript. Until that point I don’t know my characters as well as I might, all options are open for the plot and I just don’t feel in control or properly bedded in. Therefore, if she comes back to me with a negative opinion (which has happened in the past) I know I shall feel crushed and uninspired and struggle to gather the enthusiasm to write on regardless. Which is wrong because you shouldn’t write for a market, or for one person, but I respect her opinion so much and if she says it’s rubbish or not marketable then I shall believe her. However, with this particular manuscript  I love writing it so much and I’m so involved with the story already that I hope I would be able to overcome any negative feelings in a very few days. Hopefully I won’t have to wait too long, she’s generally very good at getting back to me quickly. There will no softening of any blow however, if she doesn’t like it – she’ll say so!  I did ask about the fifth and final response we’re waiting for on Daisychain but apparently despite chasing nothing is forthcoming. Ah, well. It will come eventually.

I was very excited (and jealous) this week to read an interview with author Joanne Harris about her writing shed. See here: This is what I aspire to! This lovely, talented lady has been able to create her ideal space to write in, in her garden. This strikes me as the ultimate luxury. Most people write wherever (and whenever) they can. Furtively at work, on trains, in cafes, in bedrooms whilst small children are doing homework, etc., etc. I remember reading about Catherine Alliott who wrote her first novel under her desk at work – what dedication! Or boredom, perhaps. If you are a new and aspiring author it’s unlikely that you can cater to your every whim about where you’d like to be creative; I consider myself pretty lucky because I have a desk that is mine and mine alone and I can shut the door to keep my marauding husband and children out. The privacy is invaluable. But I did wonder where and how I would choose to write given the absolute choice. And I think I agree with Joanne Harris in that I would leave the house to work in some structure elsewhere, but alone and in total silence. I certainly couldn’t write in a library or anywhere. It would be a massive psychological step to get up and walk out of the door to start writing. As she points out, it can be very difficult as a writer to find that mental working space because whether in an office or at home you are continually surrounded by the accoutrements of normal, daily life and it can be hard to switch off. If the phone rings, you answer it. If someone comes to the door, you answer it. If you glance at the laundry basket and it’s full you’ll probably think – it’s time I did some washing. All of these things, and more, cut into the absolute focus it is possible to achieve elsewhere. I am very bad at abandoning my housework to sit down and write. If I do I find myself thinking about what awaits me afterwards and I get distracted. The only time that I can switch off properly to everything else around me is when I know that there is a reason for wanting to get something written. The prologue and first three chapters for assessment, for example. However if I had a writing shed I think I’d find it very easy to get up in the morning, make a cup of tea and head out there, regardless of the mess in my kitchen or whatever. My shed would have to be warm, there would be no radio, I would have a very comfortable, supportive chair, a large desk to write on because I tend to plan on random sheets of A4 paper and spread them about the place, it would be very well lit but no glaring overhead bulb, I’d have lamps dotted around and I probably wouldn’t take my mobile phone. Or if I did it would be silenced. And the word ‘shed’ immediately conjures up images of spiders and I definitely couldn’t have any of those so I’d also need a cleaner. Which is another luxury I don’t currently possess and would like to. Apparently writing leaves me plenty of time for cleaning……according to my husband. I also doubt that I would get dressed to write. I’ve been meaning to tweet about this for a while – what does everyone else write in? Clothing wise? Do people get up and get dressed as normal in jeans and jumper or whatever, or do they have special loungewear, or do they just stay in their pyjamas? I’d adore to know. I don’t get dressed especially to write but seeing as I have a school run to do six days a week, I’m normally dressed already. I do have to be comfortable when I’m writing though, I can’t be cold or have waistbands digging in or anything.

My training for the half-marathon is not going particularly well…..I’m managing to get to the gym most days but it’s usually just to play racket ball which I’ve discovered a love for, or to use the gym in general, not specifically for training. The problem I think is that the further I am able to run, the longer it takes – and the more bored I get. If I run 5.5-6 miles on the treadmill it will take me an hour – and that’s a long time to be in one place, running. Several people have suggested returning to road running as an alternative but I have problems with my knees and it would really hurt them, and also I like to know exactly how far I’ve run and at what speed and I also run on an incline. So my new plan is just to run a shorter distance, but faster, and then do some work on the cross-trainer afterwards. That’s what I did on Tuesday and I felt absolutely exhausted afterwards so hopefully that was some decent CV training.

Speaking of which, today is definitely a proper gym training day, and I have housework to do as well before meeting a friend at 2pm for coffee. And all of this before I can get any writing done 🙂 If you don’t already follow me on twitter I’m @SoVerySarah and that’s where I post all news immediately so keep an eye on there to find what the verdict is on my new manuscript…..

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