I’ve had to find a new writing space. I find I can’t write in the house any more. It’s because I’m never alone and even when things are quiet, the thought that I might get interrupted distracts me. It’s not just the people (who, by the way, are not discouraging but neither do they encourage me to write), there’s the doorbell, the phone, and I wonder if the washing’s finished? Oh look, someone’s walking down the street.
That last bit can be dealt with by sitting with my back to the window, but otherwise I find it impossible to concentrate. I work from home and I can do that OK, but writing? I find if I don’t write first thing in the morning, then it gets pushed back and pushed back till it’s too late in the day to do anything. I get distracted by housework, and I think that, at the back of my mind, is the idea that day job work and household chores are real work, while writing is just messing around and not as high a priority, in fact something to be done only when there’s nothing else.
So I’ve left my writing space, with the plaque that was in my father’s house, and moved to Church End library. From 9.30 or 10, depending on the day, I can get my teeth into whatever the project of the moment is, and I don’t have to leave till 2pm when the parking restrictions kick in.
I’ve got a whole new set of writing rituals. I wear the “dream” necklace and these new earrings I made. I pack the same satchel bag and park in the same road. Walking along a footpath that takes me through a churchyard throws me into a rural setting, sandwiched between a residential street and a road teeming with traffic. Some of the graves are very old, one dates from the 18th century, a woman and three of her grandchildren buried together. What is their story?
At the other end of the path is a main road, and the library. I sit in the reference section, always in the same place. Not by the window at the front, where the traffic noise is a distraction, but at the side, overlooking the church. I see the same people: men coming in for the company, women and children, the young autistic man who uses the computers.
I bring my laptop and use the free wifi. You get an hour, then you have to log off for 20 minutes. This isn’t such a bad thing as it stops me getting sidetracked into endless research. Or rather it did, till I realise that I always sit with my back to the very books I needed to be researching the subject of the story of the time: in the 296’s (I’m married to a former librarian, who files all our non-fiction books according to the Dewey. But that’s another story).
The local library service is under-funded. On a rainy day, water drips through the ceiling into a bucket. The local authority is closing some libraries. Long may mine live, so that I can stay sane. In the libary, where
The words I write go heedless past
As Finchley traffic-roar outside.