by Tim Wynne-Jones
I missed the deadline for my blog! Completely forgot it. Sorry, one and all, but I have about the best excuse a writer could ever have: I’m writing. After a seven-month dry spell (see my blog about empty wells from last fall) March roared in like a lion. It didn’t hurt that we’d taken a beautiful house in Salcombe, Devon for the month that provided that most crucial properties for writing: a room of one’s own. Woolf got that one right. The second morning we were there, I woke up at 4:00 and, taking a big shaky, frightened breath, reread the 36 pages of a novel I’d started almost exactly a year ago and not touched since. It was all there; all the passion I’d felt at the time and not been able to find while travelling.
By the time we left Devon on March 30th, I’d written 180 new pages. I was worried about returning to our cramped quarters in London, but there was enough momentum to keep the thing going. Two weeks later, I’m at 350 pages.
I’ve even figured out how to write in coffee shops.
I had always disdained that idea as being a Natalie Goldberg kind of dilettantism, but as long as you know what the scene is you’re writing before you get to the café, and as long as the words are already lining up in your head, the squalling babies and mobile ring tones fade into white noise. The barista even knows my drink of choice!
But the room.
I had never realized just how unportable my job was. I guess Hemmingway could write in cafes because he travelled light – no adjectives! I couldn’t until I got the thing – the story — snowballing down the hill to the point where I have to hustle just to keep up with it. Lunching with Philip Pullman in February he said that ideas don’t come to him, they come to his desk. There is truth in that. But it’s good to know the desk can be somewhere else, as long as it’s in a room where all your notes are spread out, a room you don’t have to pack up whenever you leave it, a room of one’s own.