The rain falls. The day is very quiet, as if Monday has forgotten itself and is still acting like Sunday. I sit down at my desk and start yet another secret secret project.
The secret projects are rather grandiose terms for the ideas that buzz around in my head like flies and will not leave me alone. Sometimes they come to me whole, and I really do wonder if I can write an entire book in a weekend. There is some mad competition where people go into a room and write a novel in 24 hours. I think they used to do it at the Groucho.
Technically, it is possible. I can touch type at seventy-five words a minute. Even allowing for pauses, that should round up to about four thousand words an hour, if the brain is working at full stretch. A novel should be around 90,000 words, but 60,000 will do, and that could be achieved in about fifteen hours. (It would not be much good, but it could logistically be done, with iron tonic and oxygen.)
People did apparently do this, without running mad. The problem is, in the real world, that the mind tires very fast. If I do over a thousand words in one day’s work, my brain switches itself off like a light. It always amazes me that merely sitting at a comfortable desk in a quiet room, tapping lightly with my fingers, imagining, thinking, can create such bodily exhaustion. I scold myself. I am not drilling in rivets all day. I am not humping timber or building dry stone walls. Nor am I doing labour which, whilst not manual, is equally exhausting – negotiating the thickets of office politics under unkind neon lighting. I have good lighting, and a dog, and a view over the Wellingtonias and the old oaks.
Whenever I start a new secret project, I envisage a writing marathon. I’ll go crazy for three days. I’ll take the telephone off the hook and switch off the internet and not ride the mare.
It never works. Yet my idiot, irrational hope springs eternal. The problem is: I want to write about eight books at once, this very minute.
I stop. I take a deep breath. The brain is already fizzing and popping, getting ready to switch off its circuits. The writing day was interrupted by real life, and requests for things, and the usual technological difficulties. At one point, I found the distraction device of the internet marching into my room and luring me to put up photographs on Pinterest. (Why? Why?)
Words did get written. But not enough. Never enough. I suppose one must lash oneself, otherwise the temptation would be to sit about and eat Kit-Kats and think rambling thoughts. But really, a calm little patch of the middle ground would be nice. It does not always have to be all or nothing.
And now, as usual, I am going to sit very, very still.
Are actually from yesterday. Today is an ugly, brown, demoralising day. I attempt to keep grumpiness at bay and fail. The mare, despite having water running down her dear face, is actually very good and funny and sanguine, and does not even take to her shelter. Pah; it’s just a bit of weather.
But yesterday, there was LIGHT:
Happy morning in the wild spaces:
Dowager duchess Where is my afternoon tea? face:
The hill, with the weather starting to move in: