Things I'm Learning About Writing A Book

I'm learning ...

I don't write a book in the same way I might train my body at the gym.  It's not about pushing the limits and building up strength.  It's not about endurance. 

And it's not about 9 to 5.  It's about 'anytime'.  My most exciting idea, so far, came while I was walking back through city streets in the early morning, a 5 celsius day.  I was thinking bad thoughts about Antwerp's polluted air.

I smsed my idea to myself.  I had a book for the tram and I know how time stretches and warps on these journeys of mine.  I need to make notes.  Always.  Because I forget stuff.  Even brilliant stuff.

Always make notes.

I have a song, sometimes more than one but usually just one, that I put on repeat ... endlessly on repeat.  It helps somehow.  It disappears into the background but creates a state of mind.  I recently heard Man Booker prize winner, Eleanor Catton, admit to doing it and I thought, 'So it's normal'!'  Many have tried to convince me that it's so far from normal and I should stop immediately.

So, currently, whenever I hear Ben Howard's 'Old Pine' then I know it's time to work.  Maybe I should put a dedication to him in the front of this book.  I've played his song hundreds, if not thousands, of times already. 

Obviously this can only be done when I'm working alone here ...

I am learning to steal the Belgian's bloke's desk-chair the moment he leaves for work, as my chair is an ergonomic disaster, even though we were careful in choosing it and paid more than we wanted to.  He just sighs, rolls my chair away from his desk, and waits while I return his in the evenings.  Thank goodness he works away from home all day ...

Most importantly perhaps, I'm learning not to panic when I can't think of what to write, how to dive in and begin when I have 'just 3 hours to produce something new!!!!'  It will come.  It does.

Oh and if I have the 130 photographs I have chosen (so far) for the book colour-photocopied to A4-size to work on, in batches of 20, then it seems less wicked.  Or is that like the kid playing hide-n-seek, standing in the middle of the room with her hands over her eyes, pretending that she can't be seen.  Hmmmm.

And finally, I'm learning that committing to writing a blog post everyday in November has been more helpful than I could have imagined.

Now,  I'll leave you with Ben. 

Oh ... I've posted this song before?  At least you don't share an office with me  :-)