Sometimes it feels as if the idea for Letting in Light came just before the dawn of time. Ok, I exaggerate, but in the beginning there was just me, a notebook, and a pencil. I do remember we had a PC, but you almost had to wind it up to get it going, and it was definitely before the Great Age of Broadband. Not only that, but at the time I started writing it, the children were very small and so portable was the one thing my writing had to be. I wrote by the poolside as each successive child went through swimming lessons, I wrote in doctor's surgeries, in car parks, while cooking the tea, and occasionally when uninterrupted time could not be found by any other means, I shut myself in the car for an hour.
Sadly though Letting in Light became one of those books that sat in a drawer for years after it was finished, during which time I convinced myself that my life was just to busy to write and that actually it was better not to write at all, than be frustrated by the pain of not being able to. As my own years advanced I began to become ashamed by these missed opportunities; I'd been writing since the age of about fifteen and this period post Letting in Light was the leanest in writing terms that I had ever had. Perhaps however it was a process I had to go though, something that comes with age, and rather than beat myself up over it I realised that I still had time to make those opportunities happen, and so the drawer opened.
By this time however technology had moved on a pace. We had a new PC and I think even a laptop, but what I also had was about a dozen A5 notebooks filled to the brim with words, which all had to be typed up. I nearly lost the will to live.
When Letting in Light was finally born therefore, I vowed never again to write longhand. From now on writing would be done on the PC, or the laptop, or even on my work Ipad (which I'm allowed to use for personal things.) I now certainly had the technology to make this possible, and so this is what I have been doing. The first draft of book 2 is well under way, as are outlines for two others, so far so good. The only trouble is that the PC is in the lounge, as is the TV and usually at least two other people, so I take to my laptop and work at the kitchen table, which is also fine except that I have to keep clearing it away, turning it off, then on again, then off again, then on again ...
A couple of months ago I read a brilliant guest post by Rhoda Baxter on A Women's Wisdom blog (which you should make a point of following by the way). You can read the post in full here. Basically Rhoda explores the very thing that I had been guilty of in the past, not having time to write. She looks at breaking down what you want to achieve into chunks. So for example if you want to write for an hour but can't, break it down into fifteen minute chunks, you'll accomplish the same thing; much better than not doing it at all. I found myself nodding sagely as I read it, for that's exactly how I write, shared her post a few times and then filed it away in my brain's useful information compartment.
Now I hate wasting time, and these last few weeks, perhaps that blog post had been preying on my mind, but I realised that I was missing out on the little writing opportunities I used to make for myself. It's hard to snatch 15 minutes writing time while I'm waiting for the water to boil for tonight's pasta when the PC is in the lounge and I'm in the kitchen, and it hardly seems worth setting up the laptop when I'll have to clear it away in a few minutes to lay the table and so it goes on .. and then it came to me, and do you know what, when I picked up my notepad and pencil I felt like I had come home.
So I scribbled this post while the pasta bake was in the oven and I was just waiting for that lovely cheesy top to go all brown and bubbly, and I felt completely liberated, set free from my self imposed writing chains. Me, my notepad and I are the ultimate in portable writing equipment and together we can go anywhere. Ok, so it has to be an A5 ringbound notebook and a mechanical pencil, but let's face it I'm never short of those anyway. This time though I've learned my lesson and I will make sure that I type up my writing as I go, but oh its good to be back to basics.
Of course there is one other vitally important benefit to writing this way, and yes, you've guessed it .... I get to indulge my fetish for notebooks!!