On a typical writing day I wake up between 7 and 8 am, or at least my talking mouth does.
After haranguing my husband conversationally for a few minutes I usually feel like starting work. It is too early to stress my body by pummelling it in the shower, but not too early to drink coffee and write. I cannot write unless I am gulping coffee, which is why I favour Nescafe. If I drank real coffee all day I would have constant palpitations, and my hands would shake. So after making myself a cup of instant, I kiss my dog, head for the study in my grubby old dressing gown and sheepskin slippers, and write for several hours. Early morning peace in my study is my favourite part of life.
By eleven-ish I psyche myself up to walk away from my desk and get washed and dressed. I am such an unnatural beauty that my ablutions take hours. I apply a number of unusual hair products and ingest a strange concoction of vitamins for women of a certain age. After my long winded exercise protocol, and bathing my eyes in hot water, I finally emerge from my bedroom ready to take my dog for a walk. By this time my one eyed golden retriever is howling in desperation and somewhat aromatic. I ring my Mum and Dad every day as I walk the dog, but the reception on my iPhone is so bad that sometimes our conversations are rather disjointed. Mostly my Mum and I tell each other how much we love each other: the rest of the time we row.
After so much activity it is always a relief to go back into the peace of my study and drink a bit more coffee. And do some writing of course. Lunch time always starts at 1pm. It is a civilised matter of routine. The afternoon continues with coffee and writing, interspersed with the occasional doze, and another dog walk.
When I start a new novel I have a very structured chapter plan. I write each chapter out longhand and then type it up. Typing progresses my work, makes it feel ‘proper.’ By the time I type it out I feel it needs to be taken seriously. The manuscript version is just a rough draft which, on second reading, often doesn’t make it onto the computer - but it starts my ideas ticking. I edit each chapter the next day. Just one night’s sleep seems to give me fresh distance. Just one day later so many mistakes appear!
Unlike many writers I work in hours, not word count. But I do treat my writing like a full time job. It is such a fun thing to do, making up stories, taking my mind wherever I want. Living inside my imagination I never get bored. And I have always loved language and playing with words. Long before I wrote novels I wrote poetry; poetry is such a wonderful way to play with words. Being a writer is my dream come true. I still can’t really believe I am one. Sometimes I feel like pinching myself to check whether it’s real.
I never work in the evenings, because by then my mind is too tired. On a quiet night I relax by blasting my mind with Netflix, and drinking lemon and ginger tea. But I am a party animal and it isn’t always a quiet one. And I don’t always drink ginger tea. Red wine is my favourite tipple. I love to get out and about on the tiles, with my husband, my sons and my friends. I burn the candle at both ends and wish I could clone myself to get twice as much done. The trouble with enjoying writing is there is so much to write about, you are never finished. It is like an addiction to me. As soon as one project is finished I have another idea.