Thursday, 2 January 2014


I’m writing this sitting on a wooden deck overlooking the Indian Ocean with the plangent sound of the sea echoing up to me. (Isn’t plangent a word John Banville used in his novel The Sea?)

Why do you need a holiday… asks my not so good friend? Don’t writers have holidays in their heads all the time? I give her my stony stare. Does she know how hard it is to look into the distance and conjure up something new continuously? Does she know how tiring it is to fill the inkwell day after day after day.

How do you explain to non-writer friends that two weeks before Christmas everyone starts to panic and five projects, at five different stages, with five different editors and publishers, all need immediate attention. Where is the map you were going to send with the text? Perhaps this should be in another voice? Should it be Marseilles or Marseille? Why is the year in the blurb different to the year in the text? Small tedious snags that take such energy because the project has been put to bed and your head is already in another space trying to create a new story.

So right now as the seconds slow to minutes, the minutes to hours and the hours succumb and sequi into long golden days (is there such a word as sequi?), I’m going to empty my head, stare at the clouds, swirl the ice-cubes around in my sauvignon blanc, (sacrilege I know but I like to taste the icy burn in my throat) feel the warmth of the sun against my skin, fall asleep over my book, feast on fruit the colour of a tropical sunset, eat yellowtail sashimi with the reddest of baby tomatoes and sit as long as I feel it needs… even if means the closest I get to swimming in the Indian ocean, is a snail-paced stroll on the beach at the water's edge.

On on the 24th December I received in my Dropbox the proofs of my latest novel to be checked and sent back by 20th Jan. But the 20th is over two weeks away and for now I’m on holiday and the sea is still making those plangent sounds followed by absolute silence as if holding its breath and that cloud is looking decidedly like a whale. Or is it the sauvignon speaking?

Do writers need holidays? Yes desperately.

I wish all of you a very relaxed start to 2014 with plenty of good resolutions about giving yourself a break.

Dianne Hofmeyr's latest picture book The Magic Bojabi Tree has been nominated for the 2014 Kate Greenaway Award


Penny Dolan said...

Sounds and looks idyllic - and thank you for those glimpses of sea and sunshine! Enjoy your happy holiday back home, Di.

It's definitely good for the mind, the body and the energies to have a proper break at times, even if the location is far less exotic than the Indian ocean.

Pippa Goodhart said...

Envy envy!
Happy new year!

Mia Hayson said...

Happy New Year! So jealous! Writers definitely need holidays. :)

Joan Lennon said...