I read the news today, oh boy…

The Holywell Dead

The Holywell Dead

Well, I do that every day. Several times. The first time quite early. I’m a morning person, usually up around 4.30 – 5.00 am. I like the quiet of the early mornings. We live (technically) in one of the largest parks in Europe, so mornings can bring foxes and hedgehogs wandering around.

The first order of business is a cup of tea and outside for a cigarette (I know…). Then I check email, social media, the papers online before starting to write. My daily quota on a new book is quite modest, just 1,000 words, usually done by 8.00, with a break to eat (oatmeal, toasted homemade bread, tea) and a closer read of the papers as I eat.

From there…it depends on the workload. At present I’m going through the publisher’s edit for a book that’s coming out next March, so I go through 40 pages of that. Long ago, when I wrote quickie celebrity biographies and a lot of music journalism, I learned how to divide larger tasks into chunks, how much needed to be done each day to finish before deadline, and I still apply that to my work; it’s a system that makes my life easier

After those two tasks, I’ll get outside for a while, weather permitting. During late winter, spring and summer, it’s usually to my allotment. Preparing the ground, planting, hoeing weeds. Now, though, most things have been harvested, except some autumn raspberries and blackberries, and the endless procession of courgettes (zucchini). Soon, though, the beans will have dried on their frames, so I’ll get those, and there’s kale for winter, along with parsnips and leeks. Getting an allotment has been one of the best things I’ve done for myself. It provides an oasis away from the world, so different, so real – a big plus for someone who lives in history and with fictional characters most of the time.

I still do some music journalism. Not popular music or classical, but the stuff on the fringes, roots and world music. Not so much these days, enough to keep my hand in and write about musicians and albums I really enjoy. Music has been a passion since I was 13 and received a record player (a phrase that immediately dates me) as a present. I’ve been a fan, I’ve been a musician. But writing about it -trying to infect others with my enthusiasm- is the most satisfying way.

Lunch. Oatcakes, banana, tea (tea is a recurring theme for me). More work in the afternoon, early dinner, and a chance to spend the evening with my partner. We watch the national and local news (both of us are politics junkies), then read. I’m not much for television. History and music documentaries, sometimes a drama.

And, of course, early to bed as I’m early to rise. Some of the rest of that rhyme is apparently optional for writers, though…


Chris Nickson