I intend these Work In Progress blogs to be rather more than just ruminations about what I happen to be writing at a given time. They will constitute a ragbag, or patchwork quilt, or smörgåsbord, or running buffet of the thoughts and ideas that crowd into a writer’s life. They could be about a knotty problem of credibility which is keeping me awake at night, or indecision about the order of the opening chapters of a novel, or whether I can get away with changing the tense or even the narrator of the final chapters.
I might write about how, just when I think I’ve painted myself irrevocably into a corner, the answer comes to me unbidden in the bath. Or I might give a hint how the dark moving shadows of branches, thrown onto the bedroom curtains a night or two ago, convinced me that there were unspeakable people who were going to rob and kill me running about just outside, and how my fear is germinating into a short story. I might tell you how yesterday the woman who spent an inordinate time at the checkout, twice making a foray back into the store, even after her shopping had been totalled, will earn a place in another story.
I could write about my routine. Every day for years, the novelist Anthony Trollope rose in the dark and wrote from 5:30 a.m. to 8:30 a.m. with his watch in front of him. Just as I do. (Not) Then he went to work. He ended up with an immense oeuvre and a handsome fortune. Unlike me.
I do try to stick to a routine where I aim to hit my minimum quota by lunch and then the afternoon is for editing, reviewing, correspondence, and reading. Even if I don’t write in the morning, I try to make up for it later. I finished Polemikos on Boxing Day and Cherries on Easter Day. I sometimes like to work in the pub, which can be very productive, though it can alter my schedule a bit.
I might write about my reading and my viewing. Yes, I think I’ll include some reviews. It would be an audacious writer who sought to attract readers if he didn’t read himself. Despite the growth of dozens and dozens of writing courses cropping up all over the place, there is no substitute for reading and learning from the greats. If you look at the adverts for these courses, most of them say the same rather obvious things. I’m sure there are stunning exceptions but why waste your money when you can learn from the masters for free?
I might write about anything at all because that’s what writers do. I might write about why the flourishing little pot of basil on my desk smells like a gas leak. Or I might not.
Yes, you’re right, I only included the word smörgåsbord up there because I like the accents.