I now have a studio at Montsalvat. A small white-washed walls and tiled floor space, 4 m x 2.5 approx. But it is a room of my own, and I go there to write as often as I want, as often as I can.
I have established a routine; one that is similar to what I had previously, but there are major differences. Before, I’d have to move the pile of notes and magazines from my chair to my bed, balance the coffee plunger and cup precariously close to the edge of the cramped desk, move the clothes from the back of the chair, sit, write, become distracted by an email bleeping in, a phone call, leaf blower or chainsaw, dog barking. Stand up, walk around, check emails, Facebook, Twitter, eat something, weed the garden, put on a load of washing, write a list of things that should be done today, tomorrow, some time in my life. Of course this didn’t happen all the time. Otherwise I’d never have finished anything. And I did. Quite often.
The routine now: enter room – hello little room! – kettle on, lamp on, check board for short story comp’s due, turn on lap top, open notebook, sharpen pencil, make coffee, write. And I do. I can’t feed distractions by wandering around the room, and wandering about the grounds of Montsalvat serves more as an inspiration than a distraction. There is no wifi, no fridge I can open and plan some culinary concoction while pretending to think. Once I made the discovery that thinking time makes up a large part of writing time, I happily used this as an excuse to get up and wander. Walking is the best antidote to procrastination because it actually works. Something about air, motion, scenes sliding by – whatever was dormant makes itself known. And if you’ve come out without paper and pen or some recording device, you head home in a rush, repeating the word/phrase/idea, or devising a mnemonic that you’re sure will prod the idea along. I once stubbed both big toes rushing up the steps to get an idea down that I’d conveniently broken into 3 words, one associating with the next so that the whole sequence of ideas would flow once the first word was recorded. I did get those 3 words written down, but I still have two black nails and can attest to the exceedingly slow growth of toe-nails.
I’m currently working on a novella – at least I think that’s what it is. It began as a short story, my favoured form, but has grown into 14,000 plus words, probably too many for even the US short story market. And I’m nowhere near finished yet. This is what I’ve been working on since acquiring the studio at Montsalvat. Not a single short story has been started, which is a small dissatisfaction, as I do so love a short story. I love reading them and I love writing them. But every time I’ve been to the studio I’ve spent at least 4 hours there, and each time I’ve written, either long hand ( I always write by hand with a grey lead first draft) or typed an edited draft. At times I’ve sat totally uninspired. But I’ve driven here, the coffee is made, and I’m damned if I’m driving back home without writing anything. So I start: read over the previous para, and just continue, put the judge’s hat aside because it doesn’t matter if it’s tripe. And some of it is tripe at first, but by the time I’m ready to leave, I’ve written myself back into form.
There are some minor distractions, it is Montsalvat after all. There’s often a wedding – photos of the bride descending the stairs outside my door; a memorial – bagpipes are prevalent for some reason; a fashion shoot outside the window, loud conversations outside my door, random people peering in my window, a peacock wandering the grounds – in search of inspiration perhaps! But they are short lived distractions.
So yeah, I’m loving this little space with its peeling paint shutters and daddy long-legs in the corners, its chipped rough walls and pull-cord light. And it’s not only a room of one’s own, but it’s also a room with a view 🙂