Friday 14 May 2021

Words, more words, and then a few more words #writing #crimefiction #books #writingstories #writinglife

 So here's what my writing life looks like.


I sit at the dining table, on an ancient laptop and throw words at an empty screen. It's a very public space; my ten and seven year old want snacks, help with homework, or to show their latest artistic masterpiece. 

My mother is 89, and would like to show me the latest cute dog video she has discovered on Facebook or Instagram. My 90 year old father wanders through; he thinks this is his workroom or that I am teaching from the table or that perhaps I am someone else entirely. Often the narrative of his imaginings takes over and an hour or so is lost to making sense of time and place. I am, largely, at everyone else's disposal. 
Eventually when people are fed, watered, praised, reassured, redirected and occasionally asked to refrain from treating their little brother like a puppy, I get to address that empty page again.


I sprawl words across it, sometimes in neat rows like soldiers - well trained and well disciplined - and sometimes in drunken lines like a rioting crowd. It's hard to impose order without breaking the magic of their connection. Often, I give up because neither discipline nor magic is winning. Then I start again, because I know I'm in a race between filling empty page and a fresh round of children, cat videos and confused parents. 


A paragraph is wrestled into shape and some pattern emerges. I think the cat videos may have found their way into it. Certainly some of the confusion has leaked in. With a sigh I re-write. It begins to read more like the story in my head, the characters a little less shadowy and a little more real. Less cat videos. Still some confusion.


I push on, because time enough to edit and rewrite and hone it but the story will be lost, thinned to wispy feathers and set aflight into the grimness of reality unless I keep writing, keep throwing words at an empty page filling it line by line and trying to remember that these people laugh, and chat and have lives. Have to keep the dining table and the noise and the markers and the mess and the need to make dinner and the no this is not the workroom, I'm your daughter, You're at home, that's your grandson out of the story. 

Try to remember what dinner out feels like and weekends away and banter with people who talk politics and books and suddenly it's a natural end to the chapter and I can say
I got something done, I made it through another part of it. 
The things I left out, the clumsy phrasing, the mistakes - but I got something done, a little more done.

And tomorrow, another empty page.

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