Most writers I know have much more demanding second or third or fourth jobs than the one which means sitting in front of the computer, tapping away. Almost all writers I know have another job which pays the bills (because we all know, only a small percentage of published writers world wide can actually live off their royalties); many have a job that ensures children are fed and watered; and some, gifted and generous ones, work at roles which help keep the world ticking along - one that guarantees a place in the role of belonging to the human race.
These past few weeks I have been high-tailing it on my own to the best place in the world – Naseby – and I have written up a storm. Forget the pious, I aim to write 1000 words a day. I’m talking about 1000 words within the hour. I have written 10,000 words in three weeks compared to it taking me months to do such a thing. And, in between, I done my second and third jobs reasonably well I think.
I feel selfish and delighted and blessed. Here I am, in this beautiful place which is so like Scotland (so the Scottish dairy owner tells me – very useful chap btw. A walking encyclopedia for me), on my own with enough food (lovely crusty bread rolls, camembert cheese, tomatoes, cucumber, lettuce and bacon) and not enough tea bags (dammit – should have brought those) and lots of silence. Well, external silence because the chattering going on in my head is what is making me write so much.
They have so much to say, these characters. They want their stories to be told and I have to say, I am learning a lot. A lot about love and death and the destructive power of unrequited hope and resentment.
Meanwhile, the owners of the place where I’m staying are away and their cat has adopted me and, can you believe it, it’s Zeus incarnate. The purr is down pat.
There is no internet access where I stay so, once a day, I wander down into the township (two pubs, a coffee house, a dairy, bike shop, couple of museums, playground, visitors' centre), set myself up at the Royal Hotel, order chips or toasted sandwiches or the roast of the day - and tap into their free wireless internet so that I can send messages of love to my whanau (also no cellphone coverage btw).
Right now, I wish this could be my full-time life: naps in the afternoon, writing and writing and writing - scribbling down the urgent whispers of my characters who are desperate I don't miss their voice.
The guilt lingers at the back of the room of mind: I may have got all my marking done but the carpets at home need cleaning and my study is a mess and I really should sort out the plastic cupboard
Here in Naseby, no one's talking about such things. They are looking at the sky and nodding in agreement snow is on its way; the tavern staff are preparing for a band debut-ing this afternoon. Locals happily wander in: this is their turungawaewae.
Okay, more groups have come in and my retreat is now not so quiet and manageable. I have almost finished my toasted sandwich and will head back to my lovely wee sanctuary to continue telling Ross's story. Yes. He who only flitted in and out of books one and two.