I’ve always enjoyed a good old action-packed dream and since starting this writing malarkey, I scribble a lot in my sleep too. It’s all gobbledygook, of course, but when I first wake, I try to recall the fine detail of the already dissolving best seller. Having given up on my million pound book deal, I crank my mind to my plans for the day. Do I actually need to brush my hair, don underwear and splash on make-up (i.e. am I meeting a friend for coffee?) Or can I leave my face northern pale and pull on yesterday’s jogging bottoms and t-shirt (i.e. will I be sitting at my desk all day, hoping not to frighten off the odd caller by my ghostly pallor?)

Caroline England

Caroline England

The former is wonderful, particularly with other writers. A bevvy with ‘normal’ friends is lovely too, of course, but if they ask how the writing is going, their eyes glaze moments later, and who can blame them! It’s a little like people saying ‘how are you?’ An honest answer isn’t required!

Every few weeks I meet my trio of writerly ladies from my local writing group, have a cuppa with fab local journalist, Debs, or I visit my lovely author friend Kate, who lives a couple of miles down the road. Only a mere twenty-six novels ahead of me, chatting to her is the best therapy there is!

Most days are slob-out opus days, even though I don’t have to. Turns out I’ve been bitten by the writing bug good and proper. Unless I’ve done something connected to the writing process (like this blog piece!) I don’t feel I have achieved anything. It’s a bit like writing OCD. I have several unpublished novels just waiting to burst from my computer. If I have nothing better to do, I polish them, making the words as shiny as I can. Needless to say, my husband wishes I was as effective and enthusiastic about housework.

So, I’m downstairs in a possibly butter-stained hoodie by now…If I haven’t already heard the door slam, I say cheerio to my youngest daughter as she stomps off to school. No reply generally comes. In fairness, she’s gorgeous, just not a morning person. I feed our three pesky cats and make a huge mug of Yorkshire tea. Then I head to the study, sit at my desk (which looks messy, but is actually very ordered) and fire up my computer. (As an ergonomic aside - up until recently, it was a laptop. Ouch! Neck and shoulder ache in extremis - now, you’ll be thrilled to hear, all gone!)

Until very recently I was admin efficient and would attend to my emails, lists and paperwork first thing (even if that only meant crossing off to-do items and adding them to a new list). Now I don’t. I don’t even use money off shopping coupons before the expiry date. Who says a leopard doesn’t change its spots? Though I fear the me-that-was - the super efficient lawyer Miss England - is turning in her grave!

Now I open the latest manuscript and start work (or possibly buffing). Though what is ‘work’ exactly? It isn’t necessarily ‘writing’. In the run up to the publication of Beneath the Skin and My Husband’s Lies, it was more editing and amending than creating new sentences. Then, of course one needs thinking moments, or minutes or hours. The bath, a run or the car seem to be the best for that, but when I’m glued to the study chair, I gaze at the bookcase. Top shelf, books to be read and photos of those I’ve loved and lost. Next two are mainly poetry collections interspersed with lovely cards and recently read novels I haven’t yet squirrelled away in other rooms.

So back to the zone. Ah yes! Plenty more Yorkshire tea, an early lunch (a toasted chicken and gherkin wrap is the current sandwich de jour), then back to the screen for another couple of hours until youngest daughter comes home with all the school gossip. Then I continue to work fitfully until I realise it’s my job to make dinner. I peer in the veg basket and gaze in the fridge, hoping my creative endeavours will extend to cooking. Today it’s soup from the wilting Aldi leeks and the sprouting potatoes. Still, I’ve sweated the leeks and spuds in butter à la Delia, so it can’t be all bad.

We chat en famille over dinner. Then, to escape the dishes, I retreat to the study and peek at social media. Maybe some TV catch-up a little later, a few chapters of a bedtime book. Then back to the land of nod and next year’s number one best seller…