Tuesday, 9 December 2008

Excuse Me....Catherine Johnson


In the north facing room of a tiny house in Hackney a scruffy woman sits typing. The desk isn't a desk, more a table piled high with books, bits of paper, and a horrible plant. She pauses occasionally, thinking, before typing some more. There is a fan heater blowing warm air up her skirt, but she is hunched over the keyboard, she looks cold.

I can't keep that up, I was going to write my blog as a treatment, but I've got (thank goodness) work to do. I don't know about you but if someone offers me money to write something - unless it's completely and utterly off my radar involving sailing or space travel or something (and actually I am willing to make it up about the space travel) - I will do it. I will do it all smiles and say 'yes of course you can have that by the end of the week, no problem' and then spend the week knitting, attending award ceremonies where I know I haven't won anything, and having lunch with friends. Then when you email me and ask me if I need more time I will shake my head no, no. no, I say, why it's practically done already, I just want to leave it to mature over the weekend, I say, secure that no one can actually see how white you've gone thinking that you haven't even started their 800 words and hoping that whatever you come up with it will be at least all right.
If I was a proper writer I'd be a perfectionist, crafting each and every word by hand instead of hammering them roughly into shape with what feels like a wooden mallet. I'm doing it now! Where I should be musing on my week as not the Catherine Johnson who wrote Mama Mia and turning down tea in The Ritz with Americans and being offered various appearances on Radio 4, and laughing at my own amusing anecdotes, I'm actually dribbling on about work again.

What I mean is I love my job. I know how lucky I am that I don't have to teach a class of thirty intransigent Tottenham school students like my mother did, or dig up roads and fields like my grandfather did.
I can sit at home with the blow heater up my frock and moan about having to make up 800 words about something that doesn't even exist.
And (fingers crossed) get paid.
Happy Christmas and New Year and a virtual drink and mince pie to everyone.
Happy Writing!
Catherine x


Brian Keaney said...

Spot on, Catherine! Procrastination is the author's only friend.

Anne Rooney said...

So true.... why am I faffing about on blogs when I have 60,000 words to write before the end of Jan? It's just not close enough to the deadline for the adrenaline to kick in ;-)