Wednesday, 14 July 2010

Get your pen and your tarpaulin: this patch of grass is now your office

The urge to write can bite any time, like a blood-hungry midge wreaking itchy havoc on a set of campers. For your average writer in the street there's nothing worse than being struck with an idea, and being desperate to realize it - but not having the time or paper to write it down. It's the curse that strikes all writers on a more or less weekly basis. It's part of the reason why all writers pockets are full of scraps of paper, scribbled-upon napkins, bus tickets crammed with microscopic writing, and notebooks. You never know when the ideas are going to hit you: that's the devil of it.

Just like that, the desperation to realize an idea can catch us scribbling away in the strangest of places. Anywhere that has room enough for a notebook and pen becomes the writer's office. I admit, I've done it myself, on occasions where that idea just couldn't float around my head a second longer...

On a train. We're not talking 40's style romanticism here. I was heading away for a rowdy weekend of karaoke and booze-facedness that absolutely wasn't conducive to the Big Project I was planning. Consequence: rattling along with my pen in my hand and the smell of catering-car Croque Monsieur in my nose, making strange marks on the page every time the car jumbled over "the wrong sort of leaves" on the track.

Sitting on a wall outside a community centre, in Hastings. Long-suffering boyfriend enticed me into coming away on one of his working trips. He thought I was going to make myself useful: I thought I was going to work on my novel. About halfway through the day, realizing I was holding his flash stand in a sulky and entirely unsatisfactory manner, LSB snapped: "You're no use at all! Go and get on with your writing and stop making my life a misery!" Result! With no way of getting to a lovely warm coffee shop, I instead plonked myself on the nearest wall, pulled my fleece warm around me, and got to work.

Under a tree. I'd read somewhere that CS Lewis used to do this, and so I thought if I did it it would be well literary. However, instead of producing a series of seven children's books that have endured through the ages, I got grass on my skirt and bird poo on my head. It didn't really work out the way I'd hoped.

I know I cannot be the only one parking my office wherever inspiration strikes....

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