Does writing stop you living or vice versa?

 I suspect you are a better person than I and remember to do important things even when you're writing. You are organised, on the ball, easily able to compartmentalise your writing life from your everyday life. You hang out washing and cook/eat on time. You floss. Your writing flows from your deeply held values and well read mind. Never from sudden revelations at inconvenient moments requiring a hasty scribble on the back of a dry cleaning receipt from 2016.

Sigh. Here are my most memorable life FAILS because I've been writing/thinking about writing/planning new scenes for my book: -

  • Left washing mouldering in the machine for 24 hours. Told the husband I think the machines are too quick these days and can't be getting things clean enough
  • Tried to get into the wrong car in Tesco's car park. It was red, the same size and beeped when I clicked the thingy. Mine was parked two rows in front
  • Rang the police to report a stolen bike, and only remembered when they asked, "When did you last see it, Madam?" that I cycled to work that day and accidentally forgot to cycle back
  • Omitted to put the front on our Grind and Brew coffee machine so that it fired ground coffee directly at me for 30 seconds before I twigged, brownly, that the best thing to do was turn it off at the mains
  • Forgot about a mini roundabout and had to endure a testosterone-fuelled boy group honking and gesticulating at me until the next roundabout when they, thankfully, turned off
Now this will certainly give you the impression I'm a scatterbrain. I'm mainly not. I am very organised for school, I have friends who are real adults, my sock drawer is exemplary. It's just when I'm writing or thinking about writing, I can forget to live life. Yet, here's the thing. I've had some of my best ideas for writing when I have in fact been living life. Here are a few: -
  • I had the idea to call my novella The Evenness of Things after I'd finished it, on the way back from the dentist (a life-event I put off). The row of terraced houses ahead of me were fronted by identical window boxes and black painted railings. I thought they looked a bit like teeth. Then I thought what a wonderful evenness there was about them. It occurred to me that the evenness of things is pleasing to the human eye. Then I just knew. That's the title
  • I thought of my favourite More Than Writers post while messaging my daughter-in-law during Lockdown 
  • A character in my current book owes her love of cleaning fluids to a supermarket visit to buy cleaning fluid. I could not believe the number and range available and decided some people must actively like cleaning
  • I had an idea for an article published in the tes about playground duty when I was on playground duty, observing how different people supervised the children
  • It occurred to me, overcoming my terror of motorways, to drive to friends in London, that love makes you braver. This became the title of my new book
Sometimes I resent life, work and sleep because it feels as though they get in the way of writing.  But the truth is we're meant to live as well as write, to squeeze the juice out of each God-given moment and trust our writer's instinct to get ideas from them. Putting out washing, cooking, running errands, may not be the distractions we think. Their apparent mindlessness can rake the soil of our sub-conscious, offering space for those green shoots of inspiration to knife their way into the light.

True story: Yesterday I told my husband I was off to finish a blog post about the crazy things I can do when thinking about writing.
"You mean like putting your leggings on inside out?" he said.
I looked down and back. "Um, yes, " I said.



Deborah Jenkins is the author of textbooks, educational articles and a novella ,The Evenness of Things, currently downloadable as a kindle e-book but soon also available in paperback. 

Her novel, Braver, will be published in the summer of 2022 by Fairlight Books

Deborah wonders aloud about the crazy, inspiring and inappropriate, on her blog, stillwonderinghere.net






Comments

  1. Absolutely brilliant, Deborah. I know exactly how you feel. Thank you for your honesty.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thank you so much Wendy. And I'm glad it's not just me :)

      Delete
  2. Reading this makes a great start to the day!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thank you! That's a lovely thing to say. Aggie :)

      Delete
  3. Oh this resonates so much! Especially the washing in the machine! And I'm new to this so hubby is learning... He calls me 'the distracted wife'!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Joy, there's nothing like a load of washing that's been through the cycle twice. It smells better than the mouldy version! I'm sure your husband is very proud of your writing achievements despite your distractedness :)

      Delete
  4. I love this post to bits. 'Brownly' - ha ha! And the stolen bike. And the leggings. Very funny writing but all so true as well.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thanks, Buddy. All true, every word. Also, with the coffee incident, Steve was out and I was determined he wouldn't know about it. Polly helped me clear up. It literally went all over the kitchen. (I did tell him later though)

      Delete
  5. I feel better already. Life exposed.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Indeed. I hope you feel really organised and in control now!

      Delete
  6. A splendid start to the day! I conducted several Zoom interviews for work recently, up to my eyes in it, and only afterwards discovered that I had managed to dribble toothpaste into my hair and it was sticking out in a strange and alarming fashion. Frequently put clothes on inside out or back to front. Thank you for normalising our weird behaviour!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. That's so funny re the toothpaste! Yes, I fear this is common to many of us creatives (not all, but many). It feels better to know we're not alone, doesn't it?

      Delete
  7. Absolutely delighted by your witty lists, again! I chuckled at the wrong red car beeping when you pressed the button. I can totally relate.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Have you done that too? Thank you Katherine! That's lovely of you :)

      Delete
  8. Oh dear - seems I'm deviant here - just rushed outdoors to bring IN the washing, since the room grew dark and gloomy, signalling rain... as usual, #notaproperwriter - !

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Not at all. I think I'm the deviant one, Clare! Though, to be fair, if I'm home, I would probably do that too even in the depths of writing. I'm constantly aware of the weather for some reason. Also, I love being outside in the fresh air whatever the weather so any excuse to get out there, I take it.

      Delete
  9. Very funny and an enjoyable read. Seems I'm not the only one who does crazy things then enters a state of denial when challenged by my saintly-patient wife!

    ReplyDelete
  10. You are definitely not the only one Michael. And in my case, as you can probably tell, it's my husband who is the saintly-patient one!

    ReplyDelete
  11. You made me chuckle at the coffee machine drama, fear for your life over the mini-roundabout and excited once again about your upcoming book. A wonderful blog post as always, Deborah.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Martin, thank you so much! It was certainly fun to write 🙂

      Delete
  12. I've done mad things like trying to get into a car that wasn't mine when I've had other things on my mind. I just can't blame it on writing!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Liz Manning, I suspect that's true of me too, but let's keep it quiet, shall we? Far better for people to think it's a by product of our creative genius 😆

      Delete
  13. I relate very much to this. The other day I was doing one of my paintings with a jar of water for the brushes and a mug of coffee. One day I'm bound to put the paint-loaded brushes into the coffee. Instead I spilt the coffee which flooded all over the table and narrowly missed my laptop, which was also close by.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Ooh, that was close! I have actually ruined a laptop that way. So glad you didn't though!

      Delete
  14. Loved this. And it made me laugh like a drain. Alas, it's not thinking about writing but thinking about all the other complications of life that makes me put things in the oven instead of the fridge and vice versa, or turn up for an appointment a week early. Now I've got the perfect excuse: lockdown brain.

    ReplyDelete
  15. Yes, that is the perfect excuse, Veronica. That and the fact that you are always creating, at least in your mind. That's my excuse, obviously!

    ReplyDelete
  16. i am very happy to read this blog. that is nice
    for more information
    best email signature management office 365

    ReplyDelete
  17. Love this blog. And what a relief to read the comments and find out how many of us are in the Scatty Writers' Club.

    ReplyDelete
  18. Replies
    1. You are so welcome. Thank you for commenting Tish :)

      Delete
  19. I know that 'laughed out loud' is overrated since the acronym and associated emoticon took over, but when I got to the word 'brownly' I really did do a proper laugh. Brilliant writing. I am SO looking forward to your novel!

    ReplyDelete
  20. Loved this, Deborah, made me laugh. Thanks.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I'm glad. It's good to laugh, isn't it? Thank you, Sheila :)

      Delete

Post a Comment