Last Week!

My writing desk – mainly for hand written notes just now

Last week was one of those exciting times when I was allowed out for a couple of days.

It’s not easy when you’re let off the leash. I was going to Swanwick Writers’ School, which was a first for me, to give two one-hour workshops to aspiring and existing writers, but all the time while I was there I was thinking of the next scenes I ought to have been writing for the current work in progress, or what on earth I should call it. I came away with a number of ideas that are now being put into action, and I do think (or hope) that the time away has brought me back refreshed and ready to complete the book in short order, but it’s always the case that an author doubts whether the trip away was a good idea. Invariably there is a sense of guilt at not sitting at the desk.

The worst aspect, I think, is always the fact that it takes so much time away. For example, to get to Swanwick I had to travel for some four and a half hours, on both Wednesday and Thursday. While this involved sitting on trains and being able to write a little, in fact I find trains difficult places in which to achieve much. And the coffee is undrinkable. So, to get there to give a couple of short talks, I lost two days of work.

Lovely old building at Swanwick

Lovely old building at Swanwick

However, it doesn’t really matter. It was good to get away, it was very good to meet with such lovely folks at Swanwick (organisers, committee and attendees), and it was inspiring to talk through other peoples’ ideas and see how their own work was progressing. I’ve never been to a writing school, nor even participated in a writing course, but it was wonderful to be there and to see so many keen writers. It’s a really relaxed place, with a great atmosphere, but the keenness and enthusiasm of the people who trek to Swanwick cannot be overstated. They are determined to improve, and that in its own right makes it an inspiring place to go. Then again there are the fabulous grounds, with a lake, lovely gardens and plenty of space to wander off and find some peace away from other people to sit and sketch out ideas or fine-tune some writing.

I’ve never been to Swanwick before, but I will certainly go again if it’s feasible.

With that bit of work over, the next thing is to finish the current book. That’s going to involve my head being down all this week and next. It’s not easy: I have family over from New Zealand, I have more family visiting from up east, too. But I do have to finish this book.

It has been a dreadful year. So far we have lost six good friends, some appallingly young, I’ve suffered two catastrophic computer failures, both of which cost me three weeks of work, and all in a year when I have more work than ever before. So, I do have to finish this project as quickly as possible, crack on with the next, and then plan for the future too.

One of the questions I had last week was, whether I had a name for the new book. I had to explain that I have no trouble writing books (usually), but that I always have real trouble thinking of a decent title.

This book is currently ‘Untitled – Poitiers’. I think I need to work on that, too!

8 Responses to “Last Week!”
  1. Austin Hackney says:

    Hi Michael,

    Time away can really help ~ if only because it winds you up like a tight spring with eagerness to crack on as soon as you get back!

    The relatives will just have to take care of themselves ~ there’s the rest of the family and the dogs to entertain them after all. Not to mention superb walks and excellent public houses in the vicinity.

    You’ve had a damned tough year by anyone’s standards. I really hope for your sake that the Fates cast the dice in your favour from now on.

    As to titles ~ tell me about it! I’ve got something that was provisionally nominated “The Maiden’s Voyage” which sounds like an 18th Century Buccaneer Romance, which it absolutely isn’t and it just won’t do. Currently toying with “Journey to the Moon” which is very lacking in novelty and more suggestive of a Jules Verne or H.G. Wells, which is a bit more like it but still way off the mark. I’m just hoping that some bright spark agent or editor somewhere down the line will say, “You know what you should call this, don’t you? You should call this ____________” And I will say, “Aha! That’s it!”

    One can but hope.

    That said, if you call the next one ‘Poitiers’ that won’t stop me buying it. Anyone with an inkling of the history will understand the significance of that title. And if you’ve read the previous two, you don’t give a fig what the next one is called – just what’s in it.

    Kind regards as always.


    • Hiya Austin – I’m keeping this short and sweet because I’m in the middle of another scene. The joys of writing battles! I do agree about time away, but I find it takes me a while to read myself back into the story after a break of even a day, and just now I’ve so much to work on, I really cannot afford any time delays! Thanks so much for the kind words, though. I really appreciate it. Good luck with your titles – so hard to summarise an entire novel into a matter of three or four words, isn’t it! All best wishes as always!

      Liked by 1 person

  2. knotrune says:

    Take a flask of coffee from home? Or doesn’t that keep it fresh enough?


    • No, can’t do that. The coffee would stew and go rancid. I can cope. I buy an Americano from the station before I get on the train. I can usually survive with that, courtesy of the Pumpkin cafe on platform 5!


  3. Paul Neimoyer says:

    Mike, when you deigned Baldwin for your first book did you make a multi page character study first?


    • Baldwin and Simon both had pages and pages of planning before I wrote the first in the series. In fact, I think I wrote up a ten page computer sheet on his life history and everything to do with him – which sadly disappeared when my IBM PS2 was loaned to a ‘friend’! Luckily, I know both Simon and Baldwin so well after 20 years writing about them, that it’s easy to recall almost every aspect of his life and family.


  4. isoltblog says:

    always by coffee before you get on the train. All the best for your future writing (& other projects) after hard times of late


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

%d bloggers like this: