Friday, October 19, 2012

Back to Normal

My wife is returning this evening after being away for several days. I know I have been joking about running with scissors while she was gone (I didn’t) and willfully leaving interior doors open when I left the flat, despite the danger of the television exploding or the wardrobe spontaneously combusting and the resulting fire running rampant through our block of flats because I didn’t secure the doors; I did do this—after all, what do I care if the place burns to the ground 3 seconds sooner because I didn’t close the doors; I won’t be there—I did not, however, do it often, which reminds me of why I like having a wife around: when left on my own, I tend to vegetate.

I have been on my own for five days, and have left the flat only three times—once to go to the pub, once to buy pizza and just now, because I realized I have not been outside for two days and I was beginning to mould.

Add to this the fact that, since I took my wife to the train station at 9 o’clock on Monday morning, I have not turned on a radio or the telly and have been sitting in complete silence, reading or writing, for the past 102 hours, and you will understand that I am beginning to go just a little bit stir crazy and will be happy to welcome her home, even if the first thing she does is turn on Strictly Come Dancing.

This is how other people probably see me when I am in "writing mode."

I’m not really this antisocial, or boring – not always, anyway – but I took the opportunity to be boring and antisocial this week so I could tie up all the loose ends on my current book and give the next novel a good kick start. And the best way to force myself to do that is to give myself enough time to finish all the obsessive-compulsive tasks I can think up to avoid writing (such as sorting out my sock drawer, making sure all the books in the bookcases are lined up by author and that each book in each author group is in the correct chronological sequence, or counting the number of note pads I have and, just to be sure, counting them again); then, and only then, will I finally sit myself down and—having exhausted all other possibilities—begin to write.

This is how I see myself when I am in "writing Mode."

It seems to have worked: over the past few days I have finished the paperback edition of Finding Rachel Davenport and am now just waiting for the official release date of the eVersion so I can make them both available at the same time. (That would be 30 October for those of you who are interested.) And the plot for my next novel, instead of being just the germ of an idea, is now a huge tangled mass of recalcitrant plot points and loose ends, which should be as easy to sort out as encouraging a basket full of ferrets* to line up in an orderly fashion.

And, as a bonus, the bookcases are now as neat and tidy as my sock drawer.

* The proper term for a collection of ferrets is a “business” of ferrets, a term which—if I saw it in someone else’s blog post—would lead me to assume they had made it up on the spot because they didn’t have the imagination to use “a basket full of ferrets.”


  1. I do like collective nouns, there must have been some real creative thinking when they named some of them I wonder, was it one person, or a committee decision?

    1. I think it was a group of Victorian men who got together to decide it, and it was random--a murder of crows, a murmuration of starlings, pod of whales,etc. Some of the collective names had already been around for a while (business of ferrets, being one) but it still must have been a fun meeting.

  2. I know how that compulsive-tasks-to-avoid-writing thing goes. In fact, I'm doing it right now by reading your blog! Back to work....


    P.S. Just finished my college studies, so Britain is closer than ever before! Do you happen to have an extra sleeping bag?

    1. I'm afraid my camping days are behind me, but I'm sure the school you're going to will loan you one ;)

  3. Mrs Baum5:26 PM

    I hope you're not implying that there's anything wrong with neat sock drawers or chronologically-arranged books? Be careful now!

    1. Certainly not! And you'll be wanting to have all the cans in your pantry right-side-up with the labels facing OUT, as God intended;)

    2. mrs baum4:21 PM

      Absolutely. And arranged in date order so that the oldest gets used first.

      I must admit our CDs aren't very arranged though, so I'm not quite perfect. But they are due for a sort out.