Thursday, 23 October 2014

No. 1 - Writing About Writing

This sounds more complicated than the reality - I write, so writing about writing should be relatively straightforward.

Here's the trick - it isn't difficult. Writing is, in fact, frustratingly simple; you are using your fingers to type or hand to hold your pen(cil) and let these body bits be a conduit for the other body bit - your brain - and connect the two.

Pretentious nonsense aside - although it can be wonderfully indulgent to talk rubbish, writing can be a comfort or an enemy. More of that later.
It can be a reassuring sign that your brain is still alive and hasn't slipped into TV or internet-induced hibernation.
More than anything else, writing is something I do. There are lots of things I don't do, but it is one thing I can and do.

Today I am writing about what I do, when I do.

1. I usually do in any number of coffee shops - not to perpetuate the stereotype, of course; I don't sit alone in a corner in a beret, weeping into a steaming cup and getting the biscuits damp from my misunderstood, artistic tears - they just have free WiFi. And coffee, which is good. I do sometimes wear a beret in winter. Shut up.
Luckily coffee shops are generally quiet if you hit them at the right time, but the drone of the grinders and swooshy steamer can be kind of reassuring.

2. I also write in my flat. I chose an armchair specially for writing; this is my only nod to being extremely pretentious. Plus, it was second-hand and it is also the comfiest damn chair. Red leather, metal studs, little castor wheels - he is called Edward and he is the best chair.
My laptop has to be on my lap. I've tried smaller devices but ideally something with a 15" screen is a must and it needs to be a decent weight - at least 2kg - so it can't and hopefully won't slither off my lap. Laptops on desks don't work for me; I'd rather live with the shoulder and neck pain and frighteningly overheated thighs.

3. Occasionally I write on the train, although the little back-of-seat fold down tables drive me crazy as they simply aren't big enough and the lack of free WiFi is just rude. There's also the added peril of hot drinks with the flippy plastic lids. I'd rather get it all over me, or my neighbour, than get it on my laptop. (NB. Past spillages include an entire bottle of water over a keyboard and half a bottle of nail varnish remover which made the black plastic surround of the keyboard bleach white, then it sort-of melted. Don't let me near liquids.)
I have to take a lot of train journeys, and invariably I just stare out of the window instead of doing anything mildly productive.

4. I write in silence or with white noise (see above for coffee shop noises - Coffee Shop Noises, coming to a stereo near you). I used to only be able to write with music on -  I don't know when this changed but it just distracts me now. Unless it's something one of my characters would listen to, I don't bother because it's just too much of a distraction. There will be more about distractions later.

5. I don't keep a diary. Only interesting people should keep diaries.

A beginning

Is it possible to be defined by what we don't do?
Hello, I'm a writer; writing about not writing.

Trained print journalist, BA Hons, NCTJ PG-Dip and probably some other acronyms. GCSE.

I have had work published in print media, digital media, scribbled on envelopes and left behind on trains.
I have filled notebooks with encrypted stories, observations, snide remarks and poor illustrations.
I have an external hard-drive filled with maybe 25,000 words of a novel I am currently not writing.
I have also forgotten how to transcribe my own shorthand when it's been left for too long.

There are two projects I am currently not writing, because I am writing this; here and now.
There are dried up pens in every handbag I own, nestled among the old receipts, pennies and general bag detritus.

There are rituals, rites which must be performed before you can even think about starting to write.
Tea, armchair, lamp, your choice of distracting side projects; all of these and more must be ready before the true procrastination can begin.

This is intended as a short introduction to what I write about when I write about writing, and also what I write about when I am not writing that which I should be. Writing.

#writing #notwriting