My typical writing day.
Last year I wrote a blog article about the remote places I write in. As I said there, I really struggle to write at home, mainly because the office at home is for my business rather than my writing career. I really struggle not to check emails, surf the web and do the sorts of things I do when I am wearing my web developer hat. Hence, I like to rent a cottage in the middle of no-where, ideally without phone reception or broadband access, and work there.
I’m in such a place as I write this; a little slate worker’s cottage on a hillside in Penmachno, complete with wood burning stove, spectacular view and fridge stocked with ready meals. It’s the twenty to seven on the fourteenth of December 2015. I’ve just finished the first chapter breakdown for book two, somewhat ahead of time.
So, I’ve poured myself a whiskey. I’ve got a bowl of vindaloo cashews, (which seemed like a great idea at purchase, though now my tongue is on bloody fire). The soundtrack to ‘Amelie’ is being particularly French in my ears. So, I thought I’d chug out a blog that describes a typical day for me when I am on one of these trips.
My days start early. The kind of early that most people would probably think odd whilst ‘on holiday’. My alarm goes at six and I like to be sitting up in bed with a cuppa by ten past. The reason I wake so early is simple – so there’s time to read.
It’s a terrible admission, but when I am at home, I rarely read books. My brain is so all over the place with work that I struggle to concentrate on recreational reading. So the early morning time is gold dust. At the moment I’m ready Penny Grubb’s ‘Like False Money’ (review to follow soon), which whilst not my usual cup of tea genre-wise, I am thoroughly enjoying. I should have that finished by Wednesday. No idea what I’ll read for the latter part of the week, but I am already excited by choosing.
I am up by eight. Brekkie is two course; cereals then toast. This week I have an outrageous whiskey-laced marmalade that makes me feel drunk just to smell it. As I eat, I watch a documentary. I’m watching Simon Sharma’s “History of Britain” at the moment. Most of the time I want to hit him with a two-by-four (it’s something imperceptible in his voice, I think) but the history is great.
By nine thirty, I am on the road. There’s a hotel in Betsw-y Coed with free wireless and that’s where I deal with any work b*llsh*t as quickly as possible. There’s also a very pretty woman behind the counter where I order my coffee most days who gives me the sunniest of smiles. I keep imagining there is possibly a little flirtation in it. Then I remember that I am forty-five, with bags under my eyes and a LOT of grey, whereas she looks about twenty-one. She probably thinks I look safe. She probably tells her friends “He seems nice, I wish he was my dad” (In my daydream here, she’s an inner city rebel from a broken family the wrong side of the tracks who’s come to the mountains to find herself – hard to believe considering how well-spoken she is). In my defence, I am still at least the youngest guest in the lounge by at least twenty years.
Work b*llsh*t dealt with, I relax. The next part of the day is my favourite – the walk. I try to spend no more than three hours walking, but on relatively frequent occasion, due to bad reading of the map, it can be a little longer. Either way, waterproofed up, I am off!
The places I stay to write tend to be magnets for rain. Straight down rain, sideways rain, misty rain, sudden explosion rain. You name the kind of rain, I’ve probably walked through it. If at least one local farmer doesn’t stare at me like I am, a total idiot during my walk, I feel I haven’t achieved anything. At least when I am in sight of the locals I have to try not to act like a fool. When I am up in the trees, away from any prying eyes, then I can let my mind run free.
I’m not sure if this is because I have a vivid imagination, because I am a bloke, or because there is something seriously wrong with me (I am aware that for many the second two are the same thing), but I do revert to being a twelve year old when I am on my own. If there is an outcrop of rocks ahead of me, I storm it. If there is a cave, I take my sword (the nearest stick) and I battle the orcs within. If, joy of joys, there’s an old ruin, I plan its defence, ordering my imaginary troops to the most advantageous position. I usually come back to the cottage covered in mud, soaking wet (having slipped in at least one stream) and with a huge grin on my face. Right now, every radiator in this cottage has socks, trousers, tee-shirts and more drying on them, ready for tomorrow’s adventure.
Then the serious work of the day starts. From two until whenever I run out of steam (or, like tonight, hit the right break point), I write. I fuel with coffee, laced with Whiskey and biscuits. On good days, it’s eight o’clock before I look up. On those days it doesn’t feel like writing, it feels like I am telling myself a story. Sure, I know where the characters have to get to within the chapter and I have a good idea of the route, but the life within that route, that comes from them. There have been plenty of times (and I hope plenty more) where I have exclaimed out loud with surprise as their story has unfolded to me.
As early evening slips into night (and before I slip into a whiskey coma), I stop and relax. Relaxation takes the form of a tv series. This week I am watching Marvel’s “Agent Carter”, which I have nearly done. After that I have “Mr. Robot” which I’ve been told is worth the watch. I microwave something in a carton (cooking is for home life, not here) and eat it as I watch.
Then finally, it’s bed. No earlier than nine-thirty (I have to maintain some form of “I’m still rock and roll” self-respect) and no later than ten-thirty. I read just a little more until my eyes droop and I fall asleep, ready to start it all again.
And on that note, the music has stopped. The whiskey glass is empty. Agent Carter is in all manner of trouble and I have to see what happens next. Plus, there’s a microwave fish pie with my name on it. Good night.