Friday, 30 January 2015

The ideal conditions for writing a book? Lari Don

Every time someone asks me how the new novel is going, I say the writing’s going fine, apart from all the things that get in the way. If only I could get a clear run at it, I say, I could have this book written in a month.

But I never get a clear run at it. And things always get in the way.

a week in which I did not get a lot of writing done, due to life happening
What gets in the way? School holidays. Leaking roof at the back of the house. Exam leave. Orthodontist appointments. Leaking roof at the front of the house. Promoting other books. And that’s just this month.

So I write in the gaps. In the moments of peace and quiet in the hurly burly of life. At night. Early in the morning. At bus stops. In staff rooms.

And I say, if only I could get a clear run at it… And I dream of the ideal conditions for writing a book.

Then I remember that I have never written a novel under ‘ideal conditions’. That every book I have written has been scribbled down around dentist’s appointments and ballet exams and minor household disasters. And that every book but the very first one has been written around author visits and promotional events.

So despite never writing under my vision of ideal conditions to write - long stretches of peace and quiet to think and to gaze at lovely scenery, while supportive but not intrusive people quietly provide healthy meals at regular intervals then clear up afterwards – despite that, I have already written six novels. (And more than a dozen other kids’ books.)

So perhaps I’m already writing under ideal conditions for making up stories. After all, what is currently getting in the way of my writing? Events (the roof!) and people (my wonderful family).

And what are my stories about? Events (the plot) and people (the characters).

So perhaps I need to be surrounded by, distracted by and infuriated by the messy and noisy business of being a human being, in order to be able to write.

Perhaps ideal conditions of peace and quiet and calmness would be far too sterile to inspire me.

Now, I must go and text the roofer, and while I’m waiting for him to get back to me, I’m sure I can write another few lines of that fight scene…

Lari Don is the award-winning author of 22 books for all ages, including a teen thriller, fantasy novels for 8 – 12s, picture books, retellings of traditional tales and novellas for reluctant readers. 


Anonymous said...

You know I think you're onto something, Lari. I seem to write best when I only have little slots of time. More time only seems to feed my procrastination habit.

Melissa said...

It is so familiar, Lari. My best writings were written during the most tough times in my life - when I had 2 jobs at one time and had hardly time to sleep and think, when I was moving in the new house and I seemed to lose half of my nerves. But still, those times were the most productive and inspirative.

Lari Don said...

I agree with you both - it's stressful writing under pressure of life and family commitments, but it does get done, and possibly more effectively and efficiently (and creatively?) than if we had endless free time. Nevertheless, I could still do with a LITTLE more quiet writing time...

Anne Booth said...

That's very encouraging!