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Constructive Summer

Sunday, 13 September 2009

... to borrow a title from my current favourite song (by top US-neo-punks-that-sound-quite-like-Hüsker Dü, The Hold Steady). While I'm about it, here's a snatch of the lyrics too :

We’re gonna build something, this summer
We’re gonna build something, this summer
We’ll put it back together- raise up a giant ladder
With love, and trust, and friends, and hammers
We’re gonna lean this ladder up against the water tower
Climb up to the top, and drink and talk ...
Let this be my annual reminder
That we can all be something bigger.

It's an inspiring song, full of the possibilities of life. With a ramalamadingdong sing-along tune. Plus it also gets extra marks for rhyming "summer" with "Saint Joe Strummer".

I mention all this not because I'm turning into a music critic, but, basically, out of grim irony. Because, so far as the writing goes, it's been an almost completely unconstructive summer. The sacred hour or two I normally get in the afternoons for writing has evaporated completely because of the long school holidays. Of course, it's lovely to be able to see more of the daughters and do stuff with them. And, yeah, yeah, I can't complain. Plenty of writers have written books while, I don't know, fighting a war or locked away in prison. Still it's a source of immense frustration. It's a miracle how the bloody hell anyone with any sort of full, normal life - job, family, house - manages to find the space, time and peace to write.

Over the summer I've been reduced to guerrilla-writing : grabbing a notebook whenever I have a spare three minutes and scribbling down whatever idea is fuzzing up my head at the time. Sitting down at my desk to write just hasn't happened. I can't even get to the keyboard without tunneling through archaeological layers of the children's stuff covering it. Does this sound familiar to anyone?

Still. Hey ho. Rant over. Deep breaths. The holidays are over now and while it's sad to see summer fading into autumn, the swallows gathering on the wires to fly off south, it's wonderful, wonderful to have a little time to write again. I'm happy to report that work is now progressing on Engn again. And on a variety of other ideas as well.

A while back I agonized over whether I could call myself a writer yet. Now I think you can only really call yourself that when you have managed to establish a quiet, secluded, private place somewhere - a shed, an attic, whatever - to write. A place that is only yours, where there are no distractions. A place where you go, alone, to be a writer. Now that would truly be bliss.

One day, one day ...


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