Can you write in public?
According to myth, J K Rowling wrote the first ‘Harry Potter’ in a cafe, because she was a single mother and ‘too poor’ to afford to pay for heating in her home. J K, didn’t you end up shelling out more on coffee than you would’ve done on electricity/gas/oil, or whatever your heating ran on? But I know how comfortable you get to feel in a coffee shop. It’s the smell – of coffee -and the background buzz of conversation, of strangers who won’t ask you to do something, find something or switch on the television.
For NanoWriMo (National Novel Writing Month) (which happens every November), Nano writers, mostly strangers to each other, meet together in public and private places, not to socialise, but to write, all together, in silence. I did that one Saturday afternoon, in a building whose purpose I never fathomed, two years ago, in Colchester.
Could you write on a train? My friend, Wendy H Jones (of DI Shona McKenzie fame) writes on the train; as she lives in Scotland, she uses trains a lot, and has five Shona McKenzie books, plus several others, to show for it. This last weekend I travelled to Newcastle, and back, by train, for the Association of Christian Writers Writers’ Day. The speaker was David Robinson, of Searchlight Theatre, a comedic writer, and the Day was really informative and helpful – more about this on the ACW blog, when it’s my turn this coming Thursday.
I’m moving ahead of myself. I had to get to Newcastle: it was four hours on a train heading north on Friday and five hours heading back south on Saturday. So, having packed my smaller – old – computer into my overnight-acceptable-on-a-Ryanair-cabin case, I set it up on the railway carriage table in front of me. Virgin Trains do support people who want to use computers, by providing three-point sockets beside every double seat, and also free wifi (although this worked only on my iPhone, not on my laptop). Unfortunately, Dear Reader, the table in front of me was about the size of a child’s desk, and four of us – all women – sitting at it. And there was me attempting to write one of the most complex chapters of The Novel, including an emotional love scene, with lots of groping and kissing. I’m sure the woman sitting next to me was reading my page in Word. I’d like to think that, in a few years’ time, she’ll count herself privileged to have observed a blockbuster in the making. My friends, who had already arrived in Newcastle and were enjoying a curry, sent me Facebook Messenger texts about Girls on the Train, but, as I had to point out, that’s already been done. Titles aren’t copyright, though. Mm.
But, Dear Reader, I wrote. I did second drafts of two chapters. Away from home, and family wanting me to do things, I was able to concentrate, even though the computer was feeling its age and I did wonder whether my work would get itself properly on to Dropbox. (It did.)
One of the reasons for my going to the Writers Day was to launch the new ACW comp for comedic writing. All you need to do is to write a sketch of (maximum) thousand words or a comic poem of (maximum) twenty-four lines, on the theme Bringing a Little Sunshine. The winning entry will appear in a future edition of Christian Writer (subject to possible editing). In addition, there’s a first prize of a £25 book token and a £10 book token for second prize. Deadline 11 September 2017. More information on the comps page of the ACW website. So next time you find yourself in train-ing, don’t go off the rails. Get writing for our competition.