In one form or the other I am writing most of the day but not usually the same book. Yes, I know that sounds a bit flaky but for years I have had at least two projects on the go. This began when I was having to make a living as a writer of drama resources for teachers. I would divide the day up so that for half of the day I was writing a resource and for the other half I was working on a novel, a play or a poem.
There are over fifty resources. Typically I achieved two in a year, sometimes three – and these weren’t short by any means: two resources word-count-wise equalled roughly the same length as an average novel. Writing two a year was no mean feat.
Though they do not yet feature on the website, I have already written two complete fantasy novels which will one day become a quartet or even a quintet. The two aren’t yet published and I have decided to wait till I have the whole series completed before trying to find an agent for them. Of course, things may change and I may start to get impatient with myself. I might test the water without waiting – who knows? At present Plan A is dominant.
So following the same pattern, at present I’m writing a novel in the mornings when I’m fresh, and a memoir in the afternoon. For a while the morning novel was the one about Caroline Herschel, but as I need to do a lot more research – preferably in Hanover – though it is one third finished the book is temporarily on hold until I have the time and finances to travel and stay for a while in Germany. I will certainly get back to it, probably next year.
That gives the rest of this year to finish a book I have long toyed with about the Greek god Hades. It has always struck me that Hades is, of all the gods, the loneliest. I identify with that. Though I have three children and a number of grand-children I have been without a partner for a long time. Loneliness is my friend. Out of it comes my writing, which peoples my life with temporary companions that make me laugh, cry, annoy me, fascinate me, attract me – in short live with me and nightly haunt my dreams.
Once, when writing the first of the fantasy novels, I woke up in the middle of the night laughing because Ellie, one of the characters who I’d left in a wood a few weeks before, was pleading with me quite stroppily to ‘get me out of here!’ That sort of closeness to the people that are my creations is commonly experienced.
Even splitting the two projects into morning and afternoon would be quite impossible without breaks. I’d be a little hunch-backed creature bent over the computer keyboard muttering to myself if I didn’t stride out in the fresh air twice a day. To help me with that I have a black Labrador, thin and lively, who I walk twice a day: once in the morning for half-an-hour and once at the end of the day for an hour or more. Further help to this necessity is the fact that I live in such a beautiful spot in Cornwall. Getting out in the countryside literally feeds and replenishes my soul.