Viv Hampshire wonders where all that spare time went!
Back in those long ago snowy days of January, with a whole year stretched enticingly out in front of me (the first year ever of not having to go out to work to earn a crust), I thought I had all the time in the world. Fitting the writing of a novel into my new life was going to be so easy, what with all that extra spare time I was going to have on my hands. I even, perhaps a bit foolishly, made myself a promise – and published it very publicly here on the blog – I will, without any more procrastination, get on and finish my novel in progress and get it ‘out there’ to be critiqued and maybe even accepted for publication – in 2014. Without fail. Without doubt. No more excuses.
Six months later, and I’m starting to panic! It’s getting there, but it’s nowhere near finished, and the Romantic Novelists Association’s New Writers Scheme (NWS) August submission deadline is looming ever nearer. Where did all those extra hours disappear to? Well, the trouble is… I don’t have to be anywhere important any more, so I get up later. I go for a wander around the shops or to watch the other half play bowls, because the sun’s shining, and because I want to spend time with him, and because I can. I fiddle about on facebook and read every page of the newspaper online, making sure I complete the crossword, obviously! I pop round to my daughter’s during the afternoon (earlier than I might have done before, so I can miss the school traffic) and help her with her uni essays, and then I make a start on dinner. Add into the mix a bit of a health scare (thankfully now resolved) and the fact that I have, rather unexpectedly, recently got engaged and now have all the finer details of an imminent wedding to plan, and it’s hardly surprising that the novel has started to slip onto the back burner. Oh dear! Oh no!!
In fact, by the time the quiz shows and the soaps are over (I can’t possibly miss out on them. I love them too much, soap plot lines are great for inspiration and ideas, and a girl’s got to have some fun!) it’s 9 o’clock and I’m finally just about ready to write. But, hang on… that’s exactly when I have always written. Somehow my body clock just can’t adjust itself to any kind of new routine. It’s got far too set in its ways. My head, my heart, my feet, all lead me up those stairs to my desk at 9 o’clock and there I sit, quite happily, in my new study (featured, by the way, in the July issue of Writers’ Forum magazine), far away from the football that is dominating the TV at the moment, and write until bedtime – just like I always have.
And, even then, I still have to find time to write my articles – commissioned ones that bring in an income – and I still love to write short stories whenever an idea strikes… but a promise is a promise. As I write this, almost at the end of June, my novel’s word count stands at around 75,000. It’s going to take another 25,000 words or so to get to the end. And so I keep working out how many weeks I have left and how many words I will have to write in each of those weeks, and the more I put it off the bigger that weekly target has to grow! At this rate I will be scribbling out the last 10,000 in the last week (or even on the last day!), and I won’t get to sleep at all!
But I did say no more excuses, so I won’t make any. As this post goes live I will just be back from a little holiday at the Chocolate Hotel in Bournemouth. Well, I couldn’t miss out on that one, could I? And then I will get down to the novel again. I really will. Honest!