I haven’t been able to write for the past 3 weeks. This wasn’t because of writers block. It wasn’t because my imaginative flow decided to flow away. It wasn’t even because my characters went on holiday without me. The reason is Mother. My mother visited me for 3 weeks and that means that all writing stops while she is ensconced within my living room. Oh she likes books and is proud as punch that I’m writing them, it’s not that. I read her the draft of my upcoming fourth novel, Changing Faces and she loved it. I read her the 5 chapters of my fifth novel and she loved them too. I even read her my two flash fiction stories and she positively gushed.
I just feel self conscious when she’s around and I don’t seem to be able to sink myself low enough into the creative flow when I know she’s lurking 5 feet away doing her cross stitch or soduko. She also has the annoying habit of peering over my shoulder at the computer when she shuffles past on her way to the kitchen to make a cuppa. That annoys me and makes me self conscious about what I’m writing and gives me a childish urge to wrap my arms around the pc monitor like a kid in school trying to stop the big ginger kid at the next desk from copying my answers on the math test.
I’m one of those writers who needs silence. I can’t write to music. I have tried but I find myself concentrating on the music instead of writing. My mother is great and she would happily sit and do her cross stitch or puzzles for hours (she does anyway) while I write but she can’t stop nattering. She can’t seem to go for more than a couple of minutes without making some sort of comment or conversation, about anything at all and the interruptions really take me off my stroke. From the regular “oh there’s another emergency vehicle siren, you get a lot of them here don’t you?” to the occasional “must pop to the loo, my pills are working,” and everything conceivable in between. Then there’s the coughing, sneezing and farting..!
No, I need silence to write. I need to be able to focus my entire mind on maintaining that intuitive link with my characters so that I can hear their voices and take dictation from them accurately (yes that’s right, I don’t write my stories, I just take dictation from my characters. I’m one of ‘those’ writers). Once I get going, hours can go by without me noticing and I ‘awake’ to find myself sitting in complete darkness at 2am, desperate for a pee and horrified that I have to be up at 6am to go to work. I sometimes think that the ease with which I switch into my alternative fantasy-reality is what enables me to focus so entirely when I’m writing. I don’t just invent the people, their lives and the situations, I actually know them and experience them with them. It’s a total and real connection and if time and my bladder allowed, I’d write for days on end without stopping.
So now mother has gone home and I can get back to it. Book 4 needs another proof read/edit and book 5 needs more chapters. My characters have had a well deserved holiday; I just hope they’re back and ready to work..!