Having been paralysed by the bane of the scribe for several weeks, I’ve been amused (now that my words are flowing again) to learn how other writers deal – or dealt – with the problem.
Dryden, it is said, often had himself bled, while Bacon had to have the fumes of claret or freshly-turned earth nearby. Dame Edith Sitwell apparently found that lying in a coffin would do the trick. Victor Hugo’s answer was to order his servants to take away all his clothes, including those he was wearing, and make them agree not to bring them back until he had finished a chapter.
On a more current note, Philippa Gregory says that the answer is to frighten your subconscious mind into giving in. She packs tea and sandwiches, then tells herself she is going to walk – without stopping – until the problem is solved.
I find that a similar method works in that I have to intimidate myself (or is it my subconscious self?) with threats that – if I don’t get on with it and deliver the manuscript – I will end up having to get a regular job and becoming slave to a salary.
Perhaps I ought to be a bit kinder to myself and slit my wrists before undressing and lying naked in a mud-filled coffin with tea and sandwiches (oh, and a glass of claret)…
Leave a comment | tags: overcoming writer's block, writer's block | posted in Bad Days
Landed in Malta (from Barcelona) at some time after 2am yesterday, having spent the (delayed) flight wondering whether anyone else on the flight could smell the alcohol emanating from my exhausted pores. The trouble with having fun is that is is very exhausting…
Having got my luggage – which took nearly an hour – I made my way to the car park to retrieve my trusty Freelander, which had been left there a few days earlier by my (clearly not so trusty) good friend the Millionaire Nightclub Owner, who shall remain nameless. Having forgotten to message me a clue as to which part of the carpark Fanny (Freelander) was in, it took me another 45 minutes to find her.
Then, when I got back to my crumbling (but very well reviewed) abode, couldn’t find a parking space for love nor money – probably because I used up my entire year’s quota of both over the preceding days in Sitges. Finally parked in the shadow of the church, left all my luggage in the car & staggered home to get some sleep. On entering the front courtyard I fell over several large bags of rubbish, then when I got into the house, I couldn’t fail to notice the smell; having known that the MNO had been there I wasn’t altogether surprised. Too tired to do anything immediately, I went to bed & spent a few fitful hours thrashing about because the air conditioning seemed to have been upset by someone (any guesses?). Finally gave up trying to sleep when the screams of the Mad Maltese Maid reached my ears at 8am – she’d arrived to help me get the house ready for a family of eight from Lancashire – as she’d found some very unpleasant surprises in the bathroom bins. Evidently the MNO & his partner had imagined that they were in Greece rather than Malta. Along with sheets that needed to be boiled (twice) and the surfaces of the stone kitchen worktops having been eaten away by some sort of acid (or possibly hub cap cleaner?!), I set to with my best (albeit tired) cleaning head on and went to top up the pool… only to find that the well was empty!
Suffice to say, it was a very long day, during which I eventually persuaded a tanker driver to bring me a tankful of water (who cares whether or not it’s from an illegal bore hole), prevented the MMM from walking out (by promising to go and eat roast pork one day in her father’s pig shed) and gradually got the house back into the state in which it had been left. I love Egyptian cotton, but I don’t like the ironing it entails – and the MMM refuses point blank to do it even on a good day. By the time I’d fetched Oliver (parrot) from my good friend the Artist Turned Writer and got back to the flat, I was ready to drop. My suitcase – which had been getting gradually hotter & hotter locked in Fanny by the church – literally burped when I opened it and the washing machine, if it could have done, would have baulked at the hot pants (not hotpants) spilling out of it.
There was, however, a silver lining to the cloud as my old desktop computer, which hasn’t worked for weeks, decided to come back to life and I was able to watch the last two episodes in the first series of ‘Scott & Bailey’ as I collapsed on the sofa with a can of cheap lager…
Leave a comment | posted in Bad Days
Having almost got the Malta house redecorated ready for the impending summer season, I was looking forward to getting ‘Weird Sex’ ready for its imminent publication on Kindle when I had to hurriedly fly back to the UK to investigate the sudden disappearance (following bounced rent cheques) of my tenants in Guildford – a seemingly respectable married couple I interviewed myself in September.
Arriving outside the house and finding that my key didn’t unlock it, a friendly neighbour informed me that the tenants hadn’t been seen for a couple of months, that the husband was apparently in Gibraltar avoiding prosecution for corporate embezzlement and his pregnant wife in New York. Thankful of finding a friendly locksmith willing to break in without a court order, I got inside and found evidence of them having left in a hurry. Amongst other things, they had left a tank full of tropical fish, but had apparently taken my washing machine and dishwasher. The cellar was full of boxes of their stored possessions and – following lengthy discussions with the local police about the shady dealings of my departed tenant and the doubt over the whereabouts of his wife – I reluctantly began to poke around in them. Thankfully, no body parts came to light, but the washing machine and dishwasher did (so I suppose every cloud has a silver lining?!) along with a mobile phone, from which the trusty neighbour extracted some phone numbers and proceeded to call them. A friend of the erstwhile tenants helpfully imparted the information that they were not in Gibraltar and New York at all, but up the road in Surrey. The plot thickens…
Without making a long and complicated story any longer, I’ll just say that I still haven’t discovered the complete truth, but have agreed to re-let the house (this time to corporate tenants found by Foxtons), that I have very little hope of recouping the lost rent, but that the police have given me a crime number for the case of the stolen washing machine and dishwasher (despite having been informed of their discovery when looking for a body in the basement).
Meanwhile, received a phone call from Lilian – otherwise known as the Mad Maltese Maid – to say there was water pouring through the ceiling of the kitchen in Malta…
Arrived back Malta in the early hours of the morning, found some Libyan plumbers who proceeded to dig up the floors and hack away at the walls of my (newly decorated) house in search of the source of the leak, but to no avail. After a bit of trial-and-error detective work on my part, it was discovered that the main supply to the tank on the roof was leaking somewhere underneath the washing machine (do I detect a pattern forming?). The best way forward seemed to be to replace it completely in order to avoid a recurrence when the house is full of paying guests. Trying to look on the bright side, I remained thankful that I wasn’t living in earthquake-hit Japan.
Earth tremors hit Malta
Leave a comment | posted in Bad Days