One of the perks of being a freelance writer is that you can pretty much work from anywhere. Right now, I’m on a farm in Staffordshire. Despite the the biting wind, the incessant rain and the occasional snow flurries, it’s pleasant here.There are two pigs living in a sty outside my rented living room window and a very old pony that stands in the field opposite, staring wistfully at the front door because I made the mistake of slipping him a couple of carrots on the day I arrived. When my family and I bother to leave the house, woolly brown cows wander over to the fence to greet us, whilst the small brood of hens that live in a coop by the drive continue to ignore us, despite my daughter taking a leaf out of David Attenborough’s book in her daily attempts to communicate with them in their own language.
But I’m not here for the good life. I have to keep reminding myself of that. There are radio scripts to be written, pithy paragraphs to be crafted about business loans for young people and sales letters to knock out. So I try and structure my day. This week it’s:
Feed pony, then pigs. Take daughter out and show her the sights of Staffordshire (not many out of season apparently) Come back and work. Go back out and pick up husband. Make dinner. Work on novel. Bathtime. Storytime. Bed. Get back up and work on novel. Read someone else’s novel. Sleep (quality of which varies depending on what is going on in my mind and the comfort of the mattress – this week both are manageable).
It’s not always like this. There aren’t usually farm animals in the equation and usually my husband transports himself to and from wherever he happens to be working that week, but this time I demanded the car. As pretty as a farm is in February, it’s in the back of beyond. The nearest shop is six miles away and, lets face it, ponies loose their novelty appeal after day two don’t they?
So here I am in Staffordshire continuing to edit the novel. Yes, I am still doing that. No, I have no idea when I will finish. I had this vague idea of getting a second draft completed by the end of February so that I can give it to my readers to read, but it’s looking unlikely because I can’t seem to leave my first twenty five chapters alone. I’ve even started wondering whether I should rewrite the whole thing in a different tense. Yes, I’m at ‘that’ stage. But I am pushing on. I’ve been living and breathing this thing for over two years now and it’s as much a part of my conscious as real life. It’s been everywhere with me. From the arse end of Rotherham (where I stayed without a car) to a poolside in Lanzarote (no car needed). At the start of 2013 it was in the Austrian Alps. Six weeks later it’s in Staffordshire. So, my novel is not precious. It is happy to be written anywhere.
So I sort of feel I owe it to my novel to ensure it’s finished somewhere good. Somewhere, where I can look back and say, ‘Ah yes, the last chapter was penned in – ‘ I’m due to be in Norwich in April. Perhaps I can finally lay my pen to rest there. Dear God, please, please let it be Norwich.