First steps

The feeling of having that blank Word document open, cursor flashing at you mockingly, is awful. Somehow, I managed to either hit my daily NaNo word target- usually go over it- and only missed it a couple of days. It’s a rare moment where having obsessive-compulsive disorder actually helps you out. For me, when you have a target and everything is set up as it should be, the words come out just fine. If things are out of place, PANIC AND FREAK OUT.

I’d started writing on my laptop using Skydrive, but a combination of its wordcount being way off and my hypermobile back hating being hunched on the sofa meant the office became the Writing Den. There’s a few advantages to this setup:

– It was warmer in the winter, and catches the sun. Plus, gorgeous sunsets you could write reams about.

– The XP desktop that houses the only legal copy of Word in the building is 10 years old. It can run Word, Firefox with a moderate number of tabs, and Spotify. That’s it. It can run some old games, but nothing modern. It mostly gets used for music as it has Cubase, Logic and a MIDI patch interface thing for my synth. It has a squeaky mouse with a ball instead of lasers, a clacky PS/2 keyboard with recalcitrant R and T keys*, and two screens- one for work, one for timewasting. Before you ask, I save my work to a USB stick and Skydrive, and I’ve cloned the HD. I’m fond of this machine, strange as it may seem.

– The office also houses my musical instruments, currently an acoustic guitar, bass, Yamaha keyboard I gifted myself for my birthday a while back for bashing my Grade 5 piano skills into shape, and my beloved Yamaha DX-7, made the year I was born and an eBay auction I was willing to drive to Oxford to collect, provisional driving licence be damned. When writing kicks my ass, I can play some Ludovico Einaudi, or hit up a preset on the DX-7 and compose some terrible 80s thing, or try and play a few basslines and work on the finger callouses.

– The doorframe will hold my Iron Gym for the day I can do one successful pull-up. Until then it’s used to help me do press-ups and triceps dips in between hefting a barbell around. Angry strength training is a great stress reliever.

With all this in place, I got a vague schedule going. I’d do a full day at the computer, with breaks for far too many teas and coffees- and lordy, did I have to develop a herbal tea addiction to not die- and then when my OH got back for work I’d usually get startled by him coming in behind me because my headphones do a very good job of blocking the world out. (You’d think I’d remember I live with my husband, but after eight hours of immersing myself in Otherworld it’s surprising what I forget…) I’d have dinner, spend an hour or so in the living room watching TV or gaming, and then say ‘I just had an idea, I’ll be right back’.

Famous last words. When a writer says that, it means they won’t be back. When it happens at 11pm and you’ve just gone to bed, expect that your wife has been up till 4am spewing words everywhere, and you’ll find her passed out in a nest of cushions and duvet in the office the next day. Why yes, I’ve morphed into someone who can apparently survive on very little sleep and food, and it’s kind of fun. Like being back at university.

Monster Munch is not an acceptable lunch, it turns out.


*Which when you have a character whose name begins with R becomes tiresome.

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