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Literary lockdown

Well, here we are. Not quite at a loose end, but at the very least frayed. Time on our hands.

I am lucky that I had just started working on another novel before lockdown began. It is into this project that I'm pouring all my energy. I'm grateful for the receptacle. I thought I'd use this space, and this time, to chronicle what it's like writing a book - a solitary experience at the best of times - in enforced isolation. I'm energised by the company of other people when I'm writing. I've said in more than one interview how I'm always on the lookout for peoples' tics and weird traits. I have a t-shirt (a gift from my sister) which says 'Careful, or you'll end up in my next novel' and it's true. It can happen. It has happened. So I'm intrigued to see what impact this enforced isolation may have on my style, on my characters.

I'm trying to keep to my pre-Covid routine as much possible. So, I'm still getting out of bed at 07:00, still showering (!), still shuffling through to the front room for a coffee just in time to see my missus leave (she's NHS so still heading out to work each day) and still sitting at my computer to write before logging in to my day job.

My current work in progress stands at 32,500 words. Friday last week I wrote 2,000. Yesterday 1,000. Today I managed just 500. Dwindling returns. I don't know. Today I felt lethargic, run-down, a little stressed out. Perhaps because I've run out of iron tablets? I know where I'm going next with this chapter but didn't want to force it. In lockdown the temptation is to blast out thousands of words every day. But I need to try and keep a lid on that. I'm attempting to be disciplined, to use this additional time to finesse and refine, not simply pile on the word count. I must now resist the temptation for the rest of today to go back to what I wrote this morning and add to it. So how can I distract myself?

I'm currently reading Wolf Hall. Close to the end now. I've loved every page. Seriously, this is an amazing piece of work. What I particularly love about Mantel's prose is that almost all of the comparisons she uses are macabre. Lots of mentions of blood and bones and injury detail. Lovely.

Been trying to listen to Wagner's Das Rheingold - I love the music, really love it, but I just can't get on board with the singing. There must be a word for a person like me who loves classical music but dislikes opera? (And no I'm not thinking of philistine.)

I think I’m going to be furloughed soon for at least three weeks, which means more time for writing. I’m a creature of habit though. So I wonder how I’ll fare without the daily anchor point of logging in to work.

Oh yeah, last week I gave an interview to the lovely Janet Emson for her blog 'From First Page to Last'. Check it out:

More soon.

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