Someone asked me recently why a writer would bother having a website and the best I could manage (apart from the fact that it provides the creative ego with yet another red carpet upon which to strut their stuff) is that readers like to know about their favourite writers. Funny really, because so many of us are boring stay-at-homes. Perhaps it’s because creating a book is so much an inner process. ‘What’s going on in there?’ people wonder. What indeed.
So today I thought I’d share with you a little of my working life, in particular my aids to creativity. This pig teacosy is my latest acquisition. No more cold tea. It was made for me by Kerry Hudson, wit, writer and queen of knitted kitsch. From time to time I get messages that begin You probably won’t remember me but I used to sit in your kitchen and eat your biscuits. These are my children’s schoolfriends, now grown to maturity, mortgages and, in some cases, fame. Kerry is one such. If my pig teacosy causes you a pang of envy you can commission your own from Nan’s Cabinet.
Where was I? Ah yes, hot tea. Very important to the creative process. Then there’s my big cardigan, too hideous to be photographed, and my beat-up old shoes. I can’t write if my feet aren’t happy.
Generally I write straight on to my computer. If I’m working with an A4 pad and a pen it means a) I’m in trouble plot-wise and need to draw a diagram or b)I’m not working at all. Shopping list, probably, or this week, designing a Christmas Eve treasure hunt for the grandchildren.
I have a stack of CDs on my desk but I can’t write and listen at the same time. If I’m listening it’s because I need a breather. Quite often the music I have relates somehow to what I’m writing. Currently, for instance, because I’m writing on a Nelsonian theme, I have 15 Musical Salutes to the Royal Navy and the Royal Marines. But I also have Sarah Connolly singing Handel and Jordi Savall playing the Celtic viol.
Perfumed candles? Naah. There are writers who can’t get started without them but I’m not one of them. I quite like the smell of lunch wafting up the stairs but as I’m also Head Cook that doesn’t happen very often. Cake is good, in moderation, but only if I’ve already got some decent work under my substantial belt.
They say Barbara Cartland used to dictate her books whilst reclining on a couch, a small dog warming her feet and a coffret of soft-centres within easy reach. It wouldn’t work for me. Couch-reclining tends to reveal cobwebs, dead light bulbs and worrisome ceiling cracks.
Still, it’s always nice to have an opportunity to use the word ‘coffret.’