I am at my most productive and creative between 8am and 2pm. After that my eyes are sore at staring at the screen and my neck and shoulders feel they’ve been put through a mangle.
My day starts with a cup of strong tea with soya milk and one home-made ginger biscuit. Gluten and fat free. As somebody who suffers with gastric problems I find the ginger helps to settle my stomach. The Today programme helps me keep in touch with what’s going on in the world but if John Humphries slips into bullying and talking over people I press the off button. I guess my tolerance levels have dipped since I’ve got older.
Today I am working in my spacious dining kitchen where it is warm. I am usually a tidy worker but today I'm in a bit of a creative tailspin. That’s because I am editing my second book and need to spread out my notes and ideas across the table.
The thought of restructuring parts of a novel is daunting but once I am into it I find it therapeutic. Like pruning or mowing the lawn. It’s got to be done if you want the best results.
Editing gets confused with proof reading. It isn’t as easy as casting a careful eye looking for typos or punctuation errors. It’s about ripping sections out that slow down the pace of novel, condensing dialogue from a ramble to something more snappy. Anything that on a second, third or fourth reading sounds clumsy needs to be rewritten to help with the flow. You might need to shuffle paragraphs around to a different part of the book or get rid of them all together.
Today I’ve gorged a hole in two chapters that now need to be rewritten and introduced a new concept to replace the old. It’s hard slog tiring but ultimately satisfying when you see the improvements.
By 1pm I’m word blind so it’s time for my daily adventure into the outside world. Living in Malvern gives me quick access to all sorts of walks where I can exchange pleasantries with early morning dog walkers on the common or engage in some serious hiking on North Hill which lies behind my house. I’ve just returned from a trip into Great Malvern where I get to people- watch in one of the many coffee houses. The town attracts a lot of writers and people who work from home so there is usually somebody to natter with.
Lunch is usually vegetable soup and a lie down for an hour. I don’t know how President Trump keeps up his schedule!
I’ve recently taken up painting so this afternoon I shall make a start on a scene I photographed in the Peak District at the weekend. Churchill said that painting was a perfect way to relax an overworked brain. I failed art at school but having attended an art therapy class in town I was encouraged to keep trying. Sometimes that’s all you need. I love daubing landscapes in acrylics using the techniques and the approach of the impressionists. If I think it looks like a tree then it is a tree!
My friend will be calling in around 4pm for a gossip and to tell me her thoughts on The Cruelty of Lambs. I do know that she had to keep putting it down for a breather as she found it very intense.
Tonight I am singing with a local choir that meets in Malvern every two weeks. I squeeze in an hour of reading during the day as writers do need to read across a range of books. At the moment I am enjoying Lost in Static by Christina Phillipou published by Urbane Publications. Being an early riser (6am) I find myself flagging around eight o’clock. I’m a radio addict so it’s always a treat to listen to Radio 4 extra for some of the old comedies or a play.
Before I drift off, I shall exchange my daily email with my friend in Chicago. She’s a democrat and has her regular rants about Trump and the state of the nation. I’ve learned more about American politics in the last year than I ever needed to know.