It's been over a month since the clocks went back, and I've been wearing my fingerless gloves all around the house ever since. This is no pretension on my part: it really is that cold in our house. Most evenings I creep up to the attic to get to work wearing two shirts, two vests, a thin jumper, and a wonky home-knit aran sweater that I made two years ago, and which is too embarrassing to wear outside the house. Putting the heating on is cheating. Apparently, if one wants to write a great novel, one has to suffer like a character in a Dostoevsky novel. That's Ricky's excuse for not putting the heating on, anyway: it's all the interests of supporting my work.
Dark nights can be something of a productivity slayer. Crawling into hibernation after long days at a day job is perilously easy. However, the slide into torpor is even more depressing than 16-hour long nights, rendering the lazy writer a regretful quivering heap by February, when the snowdrops start to emerge.
A winter night is well suited to writing. It's dark, it's cold, there are few distractions. What else are you going to do? It's not like you can have a barbeque, for God's sake. And so, every night after tea, I waddle upstairs in my seventeen layers to do a couple of hours' work.
This November I have mostly been: still embroiled in the very exciting Secret Project I'm working on. At this rate, I'll have the first draft finished by February. Interspersed with this, I've been working on some short stories. I've had some good ideas lately and they've all made their way into the fiction.
For anyone looking for places to submit work this month (be quick, there are short dates on these) here are a couple of competitions I've unearthed lately:
The Willesden Herald runs an International Short Story competition, leading to publication by Pretend Genius Press, who are an independent publisher who run on a non-profit basis. They have about 15 titles to their name, and currently also publish 'zines. They seem like a publishers' with a unique ethos, so go check 'em out.
This is a good comp for anyone who's a bit wordy in their short stories, as the word limit is 8,000 words. Best of luck to anyone who enters this one.... I'm off to don my gloves and get back to work!
When To Walk Rebecca Gowers
Immigrants: Your Country Needs Them Phillipe LeGrain
Before She Met Me Julian Barnes