To live in interesting times may be good for journalists and media punters, but it’s bloody hard to get a novel written.
Every novelist has a secret shame. The thing they compulsively procrastinate when they should be writing: that is, when you turn on your computer and think, “Now I absolutely have to get some writing done,” this is what you turn to to blot out the pain and fear. One playwright friend told me of his journey through the levels of Lara Croft Tomb Raider IV while he was meant to be writing his first Corrie script.
I was relieved to see, just the other day on Twitter, Margaret Atwood admitting the fear. This may be Twitter’s most useful gift to writers: to see that everyone feels it. But what Twitter gives with the right click, it takes away with the left.
My previous procrastinations:
1st (unpublished) novel: minesweeper (remember that?)
2nd (published): spider solitaire
3rd (unpb’d): too embarrassed to admit
4th (pb’d): Facebook
5th (pb’d): Twitter
Oh, it sounds so turgid when you write it down.
We all get that itch. When you’re trying to focus, but you haven’t quite got there; and your addictive brain says, “Oh, isn’t there something interesting you could be looking at? Rather than just sitting there.” But it’s just whatever is there available on your desk, or your desktop, or your blasted phone.
(Hollow laugh at the idea these are phones: they are software developers’ evil way of sneaking compulsive procrastinating computer devices into all our pockets, on the pretext of ‘keeping in touch’.)
Why has Twitter got me this time around? Well, as I started the full draft of Lawless & the House of Electricity, the US was just rejecting Bernie Sanders, bringing criminal charges to ruin Hillary’s campaign, and then electing a machiavellian numbskull.
The moment the edits were sent through to me, the May-bot U-turned to declare a snap election. (Novelist Anna Mazzola was the one who alerted me to the danger first: “Political omnishambles disturbing work,” she tweeted.)
My Top Five Things that Delayed me Most in Writing This Novel
- Political omnishambles via Twitter
- Our bay tree needs continual spraying to control pest – always seems terrible
- Andy Murray at Wimbledon
- Next door’s dinosaur that roars (I’m guessing dinosaur: originally thought it was the child himself roaring)
- Amazon: “Amazon recommends” has become so entertaining
- Inactivity – a walk to the sea is always an inspiration
And I only got this blog written because I was writing in the car, with no internet access, as my wife drove us to Scotland.