I’m really thrilled to have a guest post by author Barbara Copperthwaite on my blog today. Over to Barbara now:-
Choosing the write place
A popular question people like to ask authors is “where’s your favourite place to write”. But for me the answer is surprisingly complicated – and very revealing because it gives away exactly where I am in the writing process!
ANSWER ONE: The cafe
In the first flush of writing a new novel, I cannot stay home. I find it hard to concentrate because I don’t know either the storyline or the characters well enough yet to be able to lose myself in them. There is housework I could do, or a book to read, or an interesting conversation to be had on the phone, or… So I scurry to a local café, where I can combine people-watching with writing.
Being there also puts me under a little pressure to get on with actually writing rather than procrastinating. How? Well, because there is only so long I can sit in a cafe nursing a hot chocolate before I feel guilty for hogging a table, and have to move on. This concentrates my mind, giving me a deadline to aim for – I must hit a certain amount of words, and I only have a couple of hours to do it. So I do.
This also tends to be the smart phase of writing, where I do my hair and make-up every day, and wear nice clothes. I look like the sort of person anyone could strike up a conversation with, although at home I tend to stare off into the distance and only answer questions in an absent-minded fashion, before muttering something about how I must work out the perfect way to dispose of a body….
ANSWER TWO: The office
Once I’ve got the first draft done, everything changes. I don’t want to be among people. To quote that famous Hollywood star of the 1930s, Marlene Dietrich: “I vant to be alone.” I spent a lot of time holed up in my office. I only appear in order to take care of basic bodily functions such as eating or drinking.
I spend a lot of time in comfortable clothes: elasticated waists and baggy jumpers become my go-to wardrobe. I wouldn’t want anyone in the outside world to see me like this, and pity my poor partner. He also has to put up with me exclaiming that the stupid plot is never going to work, that I’m completely useless, and I don’t want to be a writer any more because I just don’t have what it takes.
With a haunted look in my eyes, I force myself back into the office. Eventually, my partner will hear a whoop emanating from it. That night I will announce to him that actually the plot works just fine and I’ve had a breakthrough… Sometimes, this is even followed by me putting on something that DOESN’T have an elasticated waist.
ANSWER THREE: The dining room
When the drafts are done comes the editing. This, for some reason, can’t be done either in the office, or the café. Nope, it has to be on the sofa in the dining room. We don’t actually have a dining table in the dining room, instead using the area more as a place to relax, read, paint and draw (or play with the dog). It’s a very light and airy room, so I feel that I can breathe better while in the claustrophobic world of editing, which is all about detail, detail, detail. I also think the sofa helps. It’s a Chesterfield. It’s hard to be frivolous on a Chesterfield, and I swear it somehow concentrates my mind. Normal clothes are phased back in, too, because leisurewear and Chesterfields seem ill-matched. And then, finally, the book is finished, and I’m ready to send it out into the world – and start the whole process again with a new novel.
So there you have it, my three answers to the question: where is your favourite place to write? I bet you wish you’d never asked now…!
Thank you Barbara. That was really interesting and thanks for visiting my blog today. I’m really honoured.
· Barbara Copperthwaite is the best-selling author of psychological crime thrillers Invisible and Flowers For The Dead.