I’ve stopped getting up at stupid o’clock. Yes, I’m still writing the tome but I’m not a fount of inexhaustible energy and after one nasty tummy bug followed by a cold that left me voiceless – joy for some – I thought I ought to pay attention to what my body was telling me. So back to a full night’s sleep, sitting down at nine a.m. and writing like the wind until interruption strikes.
And strike it did.
We live in a very nice street where owners take pride in their properties. There is always someone drilling, banging or having scaffolding erected in preparation for building works or rendering to commence. The thing about scaffolders and builders is that they have a taste for loud popular music only rivalled by their voices, which need to be at a hundred decibels to be heard over people like Katy Perry and Joe Budd. I’m pretty Catholic in my musical tastes but even if someone were to play Muse at full belt (a band I love) I’m going to snarl when trying to write.
And then there’s the constant stream of phone calls, not from people I know, you understand, but from call centres in far-flung places asking to speak to a Mrs Arnold before moving straight on to a patter about Windows something or other. I’ve tried everything from ‘She doesn’t live here’ to heavy breathing (usually freaks out the caller) to, more recently, slamming down the phone. I feel sorry for these people, I really do, but I feel more sorry for me when, for the zillionth time I attempt to construct a sentence, or catch that particular piece of dialogue or mood.
Part of daily living you may argue. Get over it. Except for the writer this kind of pause in the flow can be catastrophic and it’s difficult to convey to ‘civilians’ who don’t put pen to paper for a living. I guess we share something in common with other folk who work from home. Everyone and his dog believe that you are readily available, on tap and can drop ‘scribbling’ at a moment’s notice. After all I’m only hanging around waiting for the Muse to come. I have an added complication in that my numerous offspring, whom I love dearly, are prone to drop in on their Mum. They know me well enough now to spot the glazed look, which tells them that although I’m nodding and shaking my head (mostly) in the right places, I’m far away on Planet Seymour in Novel la-la land and haven’t really listened to a word they’ve said.
Fortunately, I have a sympathetic other who is known to shop, cook and generally take over the smooth running of the house when things get fraught. Despite this, I understand why wealthy writers saunter off for month long Sabbaticals in remote and exotic places and the less well heeled take off to quiet retreats where phone reception is poor and social media is banned. Good on ‘em.