Sometimes it’s tempting to believe that no creative writing can be attempted until all optimum conditions for writing have been met.
Peace and Quiet? Check.
Mug of coffee? (In favourite mug of course.) Check.
A calm and introspective attitude? Check.
Plenty of time available in which to write? Check.
No other jobs that need doing that could be an excuse for procrastination? Hmm, not sure about that one actually.
The moon in its correct phase? Uh, wait . . .
If you are waiting for the perfect conditions for the muse to pay you a visit, well, you’re going to be doing a lot more waiting than actual writing.
This last couple of weeks have been absolutely manic in the Preston household. Mrs Preston has been working every hour of the day and night (at least it felt that way) and I similarly have been rushing from home to work to creative writing groups to school workshops whilst juggling family commitments, organising a social media schedule, taking a course on marketing and keeping from tearing my hair out.
Oh yes, I’ve also been writing a novel.
The writing has had to be squeezed in wherever I can fit it, and has been done at the kitchen table with the full glare of sunlight on the computer screen whilst surrounded by piles of what felt like the contents of our entire house.
You’ve probably already heard the story of our cellar.
The cellar is my writing space. Waterproofed and decorated and carpeted it is an oasis of calm where I have written most of my work.
But in January 2017, kneeling on the carpet to reach for a book on the lowest shelf I realised my knees were wet.
Water was leaking into the cellar.
I won’t bore you with the details but the following fifteen months weren’t pretty, and neither was the cellar.
I managed to find a dry corner and kept writing, but it wasn’t easy.
Finally, this week, after a long slog in which we identified the source of the water, the leak was fixed, decorating was done and then new carpet laid, I was able to begin the process of moving back in.
On Thursday, still in the kitchen and surrounded by piles of rubbish — nope, sorry, valuable possessions — I started a new short story.
Today, back in the comfort of the newly restored cellar, I finished it.
And I don’t think the starting or the finishing of it were better or worse for the conditions under which the writing was done.
An attempt to find the optimum conditions for creative writing is just an excuse to not write.
If you want to write — just write.
It’s never going to be easy, no matter what the conditions.