Time Pressures and Guilty Pleasures

Last week I wrote a blog entry about how much I was looking forward to getting a few child free hours to finish outlining the second book in the Little Somerby Series, Sweeter than Cider. This got me thinking about process, again! When I read this article on writing rituals yesterday, I wondered if every writer has a process specific to them. And if so, what’s mine?

Although I’ve been writing for a long time, when I started properly working on Far From the Tree, it wasn’t with aspirations that I was producing high art, or a Booker Prize winner. It was basically a way of keeping myself from going totally fruit-loopily bonkers on maternity leave for the second time. And, as such, the writing became a clandestine, few-hundred-words-here-and-there guilty pleasure whenever the kids were looking the other way. I didn’t even have the luxury of both of them napping at the same time to count on – I think that has happened about twice in as many years!

I will concede, however, that the interminable night feeds with Daughter #2 were made a lot less arduous once I started writing FFTT. The characters, plot and themes all gave me plenty to think about while I was feeding, and certainly kept me awake! I can recall more than one occasion where I startled my baby daughter when I physically jumped as I realised the solution to a plot problem, or thought about another character’s responses. Poor Rosie…

As a result, I can’t really say I have a ritual, or a process, as such. I certainly wrote every single day for seven months for the first draft of the novel, and then edited every single day for about three more months once I’d left it alone for six weeks. but apart from that, I don’t really have a ‘process’. And what worries me, if I ever do end up writing for an actual living, is will I actually need one, then? What if it’s the random, clandestine nature of my writing that drives me to do it? What if I can only write when I’m supposed to have both eyes on the children? What if, when I’m sitting at a clear desk, with no other distractions, I can’t do it?

Of course, that last paragraph is self-indulgent on more than one level. And when I did have three hours free last week I pulled my finger out and finished an outline of Sweeter than Cider that does mostly make sense and is coherent, so I know it can be done. But will there always be a part of me that is motivated by the ‘guilty pleasure’ aspect of writing when the kids are looking the other way? I suspect so. Hence why I’m sitting here writing this while they’re watching CBeebies…

Roseanna being far more productive than me, probably!

Roseanna being far more productive than me, probably!

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