27 July, 2014 / Books
It’s a lovely feeling. I’ve actually emerged from my workroom and been out on big walks with the dog and drives in the country like old people do! Hence the pics of flowers. Jimmy unearthed a book called ‘The Wild Flowers of Britain and Europe’ which we’ve been taking on our jaunts. One of our sons asked, ‘Is it issued automatically when you turn 50?’ But I don’t care because I HAVE BEEN OUT OF THE HOUSE!
After months of grafting away, I can’t tell you what a relief this is. I used to find this part – sending a book to my editor, and waiting for her feedback – completely terrifying. I don’t anymore. Not because I think it’s perfect – every book comes bouncing back to me, requiring loads of fixes – but because it’s basically written which means the hard graft is done.
It’s also the first book I’ve managed to finish at home, with normal life going on around me, rather than hiding away in a hotel for a few days. There are several reasons for this. First, my kids have reached that age (boys 17, daughter 14) when they no longer want to converse with me. In fact, days – WEEKS – can go by and no one bothers me at all. The older they get, the higher my daily word count. I’m hoping that, by the time my boys are 19, I’ll be dashing off 10,000 words a day.
Also, I realised how much I hate leaving my family to go away and work alone. It’s utterly miserable. Going away should involve much laughter and fun and chat and alcohol, but holing up in a hotel room to finish a book means no such pleasures are allowed. So you sit there, typing, feeling deprived of fun – and also horribly ungrateful because you’re in a hotel and should be enjoying yourself. Basically, much of it involves gazing mournfully out of a window which won’t open properly and wondering what everyone else is doing.
This time last year, I was in self-imposed exile in a Premier Inn in central Glasgow. Yes, I battered through the final chapters and got lots done. I wasn’t having to break off to throw a chicken in the oven or wash anyone’s pants. But I have never been so bloody lonely in all my born days. Only a friend dropping by to take me out for sushi – and sneaking out to Frasers to buy a ruinously expensive BB cream – saved me from tipping over into insanity.
I vowed to never put myself through that again. In fact I work better these days amidst the muddle of music and TV and people shouting and life going on about me – in other words, all the usual hubbub of home. I also enjoy writing on trains and in coffee shops. But more than anything, after months and months of battering away at the keyboard there’s nothing nicer than not writing at all. To be idle of finger, and devoid of plot-related thoughts – to stop working and admire the flowers. By the way, ‘The Wild Flowers of Britain and Europe’ is an excellent reference guide, if you ever find yourself with time on your hands.