Sunday, 13 April 2008

All work and no play

Hello, sorry I've been lax in writing my blog, but I've been writing. Yes, I know, it's about time I hear you shout - all I seem to do is swan about on cruise ships and shoot off to Cornwall. But I do work, and when I do I am fully occupied.
To give you some idea of my working day. I have a gallon of coffee and do the soduko, read the paper, make the bed and fill the dishwasher. Dishwashers are a brilliant invention, the kitchen looks tidy in a tick, and I don't know any working woman can live without one. Having woken up it's about nine thirty - I'm not an early riser, preferring to stay up until three in the morning, hence the inability to get up a few short hours later - it's into my office. This is a spare bedroom in my home, which overlooks a line of trees on the top of a hill, a bit of a paddock where there are two shetland ponies grazing, and a chicken run. This chicken run used to be a nuisance, because it contained a rooster who got far too big for his boots and was shouting at two in the morning and was still at it a four in the afternoon. Needless to say he has be removed and is now living a pleasant rural life in another part of Sussex where we can't hear him.
Talking of roosters, no sooner had that one gone than another appeared in next doors garden - talk about over-egging things - sorry for the pun, but you have to admit, it's not bad for a Sunday morning when I've a bit of a hangover. I digress, which I do often - the second rooster has now joined the first, which is a relief to all.
My office isn't very big, but there's a large desk under the window, a proper typing chair and two walls completely covered in bookshelves. A lot of the books are my own, issues from foreign publishers which they give me - the rest are folders and files to do with writing, reference books, atlases, dictionaries, picture books, geography, plant life, trees, flowers and animals, and of course loads of stuff on Aboriginal Dreamtime, customs and rituals etc. There isn't any central heating in this room, I don't know why, we just never got around to it, but I do have the old nursery heater I used when my children were small and this is perfectly adequate. I am surrounded by pictures of Australia, bits of pottery from Cornwall, bronze statues of shearers and drovers and loads of fake flowers. They're easier to keep than real ones and don't die on me.
Having read fan mail and email and done all my other admin, I settle down to work. I usually read over what I'd done on the previous day, edit it, bin it, or think, yes, that worked, and then get on with the next bit. I have to stop now and again to look up something, or read reams of information of which I will need only a sentence, and then carry on. Him indoors supplies coffee, pot noodle etc., and sometimes unwanted company. There's nothing worse than being in full flow when someone creeps in and lurks behind you. Love him, but I wish he'd go and find something else to do.
Writing is my career, it's what I do - and is probably the only thing I do really well, even if I say so myself. So it is my work, and my livelihood, so it has to be treated with respect. I work Monday to Friday, from ten in the morning until six, and usually don't realise what the time is until him indoors enquires as to what we might be having for supper. Urrrrrrrrgh!
Weekends are sacrosanct, it's when I catch up with friends, go down the pub and generally behave like a hooligan. It's incredible when you realise the bush telegraph works just as well in Sussex as it does in the Outback. I went and had dinner in the local pub, had rather too many glasses of very nice wine, and by nine fifteen the next morning, someone who lives at least fifteen miles away, phoned me up and told me I'd been seen staggering home. Not good, but hey, I was on a night off.
So work. I am writing the last of the Oceana Trilogy now, and it's tough going. Having to round up all the story lines, keep the balls in the air so to speak, and make sure I haven't left any loose ends, means I have to really concentrate. I have idiot cards on my desk with my characters' names, ages, eye colour and hair, and who they are married to, and the names of their children - it's funny, I always forget what colour their eyes are! With the trilogy I also have to have a family tree, and that wasn't easy, because I'm dealing with three families and their affairs and the progeny of said affairs. I would have liked to include the tree in the book, but if I did that it would give the plot away - so hopefully I've kept it simple and the reader won't be too confused.
At the end of my working day I usually go downstairs, cook supper, feed cats, empty dirt tray, tidy up the mess him indoors has made during the day and collapse in front of the tve to watch whatever rubbish is on. Bedtime means reading someone elses book until I fall asleep.
That's about it. better get on, I've thought of another blog.