Monday, 5 September 2011

Surges and Swathes - by Rosalie Warren



Just imagine...

Vast deserts of time in which to write...

Wave upon wave of ideas, surging and pounding onto the shore...

Sounds like a writer's dream? Or even reality, at times?

I've (all too rarely) had the experience of whole, uninterrupted days, or even weeks, in which to write. And I've (also rarely) had those wonderful times where your brain teems with ideas and you can barely manage to net them before they're sucked away in the undertow. But what I would really like, and have never actually had, is a swathe and a surge at the same time. On the same day, I mean, or even in the same writing session. A sense of being brimful of ideas and having all the time I could possibly need to get them down ...

It just never works out that way. The days I'm full of ideas are always when I'm far too busy with other things to do - often non-writing things like driving up the M1 to see my dad, attending family get-togethers, making cakes, painting living rooms or helping with potato harvesting. Or even publicity stuff like book signings and school visits. All worthwhile and fun and useful things, that can nonetheless be very irritating when all you really want to do is sit down and write.

And then there are the swathe days, the quiet ones, when the family are all occupied somewhere else, no one is ill, the house and garden are managing quite happily by themselves and there really aren't any more emails to write or blogs to update. At last! I sit down at my desk and manage to produce half a page. It's hard work. Perhaps I need coffee or even a small snack? I consume, sit down again and .... zilch. My brain reports that it has nothing new to tell me. I force out another page, read it through and don't like it much. I remind myself of 'regular dates with the muse' and all that stuff about getting on with it and not waiting for inspiration to strike.

Creak. Groan. Whimper... No, my brain tells me - I really haven't got anything else for you today. Feel free to go and redecorate a couple of rooms, whip up a dinner for six, springclean the loft or start planning ahead for Christmas if you like. But of course I don't want to, or I can't let myself, because this is a precious swathe of writing time, the thing I've been longing for since *last* Christmas, at least. And now these glorious empty golden desert sands are all around me, yet I can't write a thing.

There must be a reason. Maybe vast stretches of available time intimidate my imagination. Perhaps inspiration works best when thwarted, because it knows that if the product is disappointing, there'll be a readymade excuse. Or maybe I'm just contrary.

But if anyone knows how to make the swathes and the surges happen simultaneously - please, please tell me!

5 comments:

Stroppy Author said...

I know what you mean! I always have most ideas when I have least time to deal with them. But some of your writing-thwarting tasks look avoidable. Making cakes? Maybe I am a really bad person, but making cakes and doing the cleaning would be well down my list of things to do instead of writing (unless I were procrastinating, of course...) Seize the moment!

Miriam Halahmy said...

I know just what you mean and leave pads of paper lying around all over the house and in the car, as well as of course in my car - I sort of got sick of writing on the back of McDonald's serviettes when the kids were young and not even our thoughtspace is our own. Perhaps you need another retreat?

Susan Price said...

Rosie, you tell it like it is!

Baggy said...

Give me a free day and I'll hand back a blank page. I work best under pressure - there's never a middle ground.

Rosalie Warren said...

Glad I'm not the only one to feel this way! Thanks, all.

Stroppy Author, I try not to make cakes any more than I have to, but these were for a book publicity event so maybe that's OK? :) Cleaning is procrastination pure and simple!

Miriam, I'm on holiday next week, so with a bit of luck...