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Island Life, word Birds & Process

As I write this blog primarily for myself, it doesn’t matter if I miss a week or even if what I write is relevant to anyone else. Last week, buoyed by early morning words concerning ducks in rows, myriad notes & plot particulars, I was quickly brought back to earth by Monitorgate.

Is there anything more disheartening to a writer than a dead screen?

There’s only so much I can write by hand: notes are not necessarily narrative (not the random way I write at any rate.) After a couple of hours, everything I could do by hand was done. I needed access & access was denied: the World of Word[s] was closed to me…

The blessed Janey turned up the following day with a spare monitor but after a day spent in limbo I realised how different the world of writing has become. I’m a relative latecomer to computers having bought my first PC in 2006. Against all expectations it changed the way I wrote forever. (I was brought up on typewriters; I tried an electronic one (awful) & soon graduated to a word processor which I loved.) The PC was a revelation & I soon cottoned on to its magic. I loved the convenience & the tricks: cut & paste without the glue & scissors! (Spellchecking without a cauldron or a wand in sight.)

I didn’t entirely leave behind the world of paper. I require the physical feel of it, the smell of pencil shavings. I still write copious notes; scenes & the outline of chapters by hand, mostly in bed in the early morning. Grey & occasionally smudged to ghostliness, they are notes in my margins so to speak, essential to my story & my process.


But there comes a point when nothing moves on unless I’m slotting said notes into my on-screen narrative. A paragraph placed between the lines –  click  – another shifted to an alternative page – click – another deleted – click… Effortless & quick – you get the picture. And the bonus is a visibly increasing wordcount making me feel unutterably smug & virtuous.

In other news, the International Women’s Day event I attended as part of a Honno panel was exactly what I needed to rid myself of Public Panel Paranoia. It was the audience that did it – a sea of smiling, engaged faces, soaking up the nerves & making it OKAY.

I love women…