Working full time, I have to grab my writing opportunities when I can, be it a couple of hours in an evening or an afternoon of a weekend. Occasionally I will have a clear schedule; a solid six hour period to throw myself at my novel. Nothing will disturb me, no one will interrupt me; I will churn out twenty odd pages of brilliance.
Except it never quite works like that, at least not for me.
This is pretty much how it goes.
Fire up laptop.
While it’s loading, time for a coffee.
While the kettle is boiling I notice a few weeds poking up in my pathetic excuse for a garden, well… it’s actually more like a verge. Okay, it’s the area I step over between my front door and the bin. I pour my coffee and head outside to remove the offending items.
Lola follows, because she is not really a cat, she is a sheep. A sheep disguised as a cat.
She rolls around on her back making funny little whining noises in an attempt to get me tickle her belly. I am a sucker for cat belly so I bin the weeds and give her a cuddle.
Her sister, Ellie, hears the purring and realizes she is missing out. More belly rubs and cuddles. That is another five minutes wasted.
Back inside, I grab my coffee and head back to my laptop, which has switched itself off, bored waiting.
I reboot and drink my now lukewarm coffee. Once the laptop is loaded I quickly check Facebook, Twitter and my email. Because you can quickly do that, right?
Half an hour later, after replying to emails, posting a couple of updates (because you’ve got keep yourself out there in the public eye) and making a Scrabble move or two, it is really time to crack on with writing. I log off the Internet and open up my novel.
First to reread the last few pages I wrote. I like to do this to get myself back into the flow of the story and reacquaint myself with storyland. So I’m up to date and ready to write. I have just typed the first few new sentences when the phone rings.
It is my mother.
Now I swear that my mother has a magic telephone in her house that is programmed to ring whenever I am about to eat dinner, get in the shower, watch a movie or am working on my book. How else would she have a 100% record of interrupting me whenever I am doing one of these things?
Usually Mum is distressed about something when she calls. This may involve a decision she has made and is now regretting. She does this a lot, and not just with small stuff like agreeing to play golf three days in a row and realizing it is too much for her, but with big stuff too. Only my mum could spend ten years designing her dream kitchen, finally have the money to do it, then realize within a week of it being finished she should have done it completely different. Or spend years living in a house and dreaming of downsizing to bungalow, only to move to a bungalow and complain because she can no longer go upstairs.
If she’s not distressed about a bad decision, it will be about Tesco putting up the price of toilet roll by 15pence or no longer stocking her favorite kind of bottled water. Or it could just be distress because she is knackered. Now don’t get me wrong, Mum is fairly sprightly for a lady in her mid-sixties, apart from suffering from back pain and shoulder pain and headaches, and days where she just can’t put one foot in front of the other. Anyway, you get the picture; Mum has phoned to have a moan.
So I let her have a moan. I join in too, because I am her daughter and I can moan with the best of them.
By the time we are done – usually when her free hour is up – it’s back to the book. I’m thirsty from all the talking though, so first I decide to put the kettle on.
While it is boiling I notice the flashing light on the washing machine and realize I’ve forgotten to get my clothes out. I make my coffee, sort my laundry and nearly trip over Lola lying on the stairs while I have my arms laden with clothes.
Lola wants a cuddle and shows me her belly. I cave and then have to make a fuss of Ellie, because Ellie is a very jealous cat and if she doesn’t get what she wants she might go upstairs and piss on my bed. (She hasn’t done it yet, but I know the threat is there).
Back to my laptop with my coffee, I reboot, take another quick look at Facebook, Twitter and my email. Lose another half an hour networking, then turn back to the book. I write a sentence, sip my coffee. It’s cold, so off I go to make a fresh one.
This time I will focus. I won’t get distracted by cats, mothers or laundry. I will stay away from the Internet. Well, okay, I’ll just play a quick game on Sporcle first.
Okay, enough. Get back to the book, Keri.
I type a few more lines before needing clarification of something. Being a writer, research can be very entertaining and very random. One minute I could be looking up the year Google was launched (September 4th, 1998, for anyone who is interested), the next I could be finding out how long a person could survive in a buried coffin. (One to two hours depending on how much you’re panicking and using up air).
So I do my research. Just check Facebook, Twitter and my email while I’m back online.
Hello, I’ve had a few new messages. Better reply.
Finally back to my book.
I notice it’s spitting outside. This isn’t good as I have plans for tomorrow. I check the weather forecast.
All this Internet work is making me hungry. I head off to the kitchen for a snack and another coffee.
And so the pattern continues.
Finally I notice I have about one hour left of my six hour time frame. This is not good. How have I managed to waste my day again? I sit down to write and suddenly, like the man who ate a bad curry and had the whole wide world fall out of his ass, my writing starts to flow.
I am typing faster than my brain can engage, my characters coming alive and doing their own thing. I’m just documenting it and all of it is good stuff. I can’t stop and I overshoot my six hour window, working into the evening, forgetting to stop for dinner, for a shower or for sleep. Sometimes it’s ten pages, other times as many as twenty to thirty pages.
Eventually I stop. Usually I have to force myself to stop because I have a day job to go to the following morning, but I don’t want to.
I could write all night.