In a rare and rather wonderful moment of staggering timing, I’m able to welcome you to my first coffee morning hosting with the words, ‘I’m finished’!
Oh yes. The first draft of my first full-length novel is done. How long did this take? Only about 7 years. Ok, there was a bunch of other stuff going on at the same time – including 5 plays, a children’s book, a wedding, a transatlantic move – so it’s not like I was writing the damn thing for 7 years straight. It felt like it sometimes, undoubtedly; and it’s certainly long enough.
Anyway, hurrah! I cannot wait to start the editing. (Truly; it’s currently 130,000 words long and is one hot mess. I over-write like nobody’s business. As you’ll see from this post.)
On to the main event, welcome all to our coffee morning. It’s finally getting cold here in New England, the Starbucks red cups have indeed come out and I am fully indulging one of my favourite obsessions: knitwear. Grab a beverage (I’m cracking open the Gosset later) and settle down for this week’s question.
As I have mentioned – oh, just once or twice before – I used to tread the boards. The life of a professional actor has many things in common with that of a writer, except that as an actor you actually get to leave the house and speak to other people. I was especially taken last week with Cally’s point about venturing outside after a full-on writing sesh and being all, ‘Hello trees! Hello cars! Bright lights! People!’ I identify, big time. Writing certainly allows me to wallow in my hermit tendencies.
So my question this week is, how do you shake off the spell? We’ve talked a bit on here about how to get into that creative special place, how to sit down and ignore the email and the random thoughts and start writing. However, I don’t think we’ve talked about how you pull yourself out of it again. It can be very difficult to simply switch it off, especially if the material is emotionally taxing. On a daily basis, how do you manage to save the day’s work, shut the notebook or the laptop and be normal again? A lot of people do stressful jobs, of course, but it’s rather different from living in your head all day and then attempting to hold a normal conversation with your other half.
I can’t draw on my previous creative experience. Theatre is cathartic, like writing, but it’s more active. You slap your creation on the table and people respond instantaneously. The whole journey takes place in about an hour and a half, and then people clap. (And then you calm down in the pub, which also helps.)
So...glass of wine? Cold shower? Treadmill? Soap operas? How do you make your head shut up?
Short of getting my husband to applaud me every time he walks through the door, what techniques can I use?