My attempt to keep the stove going overnight by piling it up with coal and turning it down failed.
It often happens, but sometimes I can save the job of getting it going again. Not this time.
That’s what I was doing this morning. Then I noticed Marx and Lenin on the mantle piece.
They feature in my Twitter header, so I thought I’d photograph them for the Read Ian’s Stories header which needed some kind of backdrop. I like the white brick wall and the felt cat and dog. It looks like a Cornish art gallery.
So no proper routine yet post Baking Cakes for Winston Churchill. I wonder what my editor is making of it all.
I had a fertile writing routine for a few years that helped me write plenty of published stories, and a few sales. It involved tapping into the subconscious.
I just saw Alan Garner, the Cheshire Fantasy author on Countryfile, describing a similar routine, except that he devotes days and weeks sitting in his old apothecary’s house staring at the wall until he’s set to start.
I can’t do that. I don’t have a cleaner. I have to do things like staring out of the window wondering when it’s going to stop raining, or I clean the cooker.
I started an evening class at Reading University in English Lit a few years ago. It involved writing plenty of essays, and I can remember one classmate saying she’d rather clean an oven than write.
It’s true, cleaning an oven is the best way to put off any writing task, and far more enjoyable. And ultimately, what is the point. Ovens are always dirty again.
It’s part of the writing method though. Like Garner I do like to dwell in the subconscious, and cleaning a cooker is the perfect place to dwell in that other world. For example, people I briefly knew to work with years ago often reappear in dreams perfectly constructed, living, breathing and talking.
What is the point of this ability to remember people so accurately for so long? It seems utterly useless in terms of human nature. Have I developed this ability through writing, or was it through meeting people in work situations where I may not have been at my happiest?
After many sad attempts at characterisation, where all my characters used to say “Oh really” to each other endlessly, I suddenly realised that I could create characters from what I already knew. What would my character say in that situation?
Have you noticed writers obsess over accurate transcripts and say “well that’s what they said”?
Wouldn’t it be better to have characters living and breathing and ready to react to the things you chuck at them, even if that means they reappear in dreams like ghosts?