The Upside of an Extended Lockdown

It’s a Sunday in a different form of lockdown – more of an ‘I could go home, but why should I?’ lockdown. We’re staying in a house surrounded by farmland, with narrow, unmade-up tracks leading to the few dwellings in ‘our’ part of Tuscany. We’re between two villages, small towns really as each village is self-contained. We always travel from London by car as we always seems to need so much stuff. I’m the worst offender. I bring my brief case with mobile phone, lap top and as many copies of and  magazines as I can (I never seem to get round to reading these sources of information about writing at home). I bring books. This year I have John Mullan’s how novels work, [pub Oxford University Press] his analyses of how novels are crafted are vital for me, I have to have it to hand all the time;

Yeovil in 50 Buildings by Bob Osborn [pub. Amberley Publishing] for research on Nissen Huts for the WIP);

Mothering Sunday by Graham Swift [pub. Simon & Schuster] a reader once generously said my draft novel had ‘that light touch, following Swift’s technique’!;

Moon Tiger by Penelope Lively [pub. Andre Deutsch] I never go away without it, it’s not only my favourite book, I’m fascinated by the way Ms Lively has structured it; and, finally, Katherine Mansfield’s Selected Stories [pub. Oxford University Press]. Short stories are my solution for a tired brain. I also have 2 files full of drafts of the WIP during various courses I’ve completed (the Creative Writing MA at Chichester, an Unthank School novel course tutored by Steve Carver, and, currently progress made with my writing mentor Emma Darwin, who keeps me going.) and batches of paper with typing on it tied in bundles with string.

This sounds like hard work for a holiday but believe me, it’s not as hard as summer pruning the olive trees or reseeding that bare patch left by the lovely men who mended the broken pipe vital to emptying the bath of water – my husband’s responsibilities. The reason all this has to do with lockdown is that the family booked to take the house over from us have cancelled and now the next family booked in have also cancelled. Thus giving us at least an extra 4 weeks. And there might be another cancellation. So whereas I usually bring all this writing stuff with me but actually do very little, this year I have the threat of oodles of time to fill. Also the weather has cooled down so I don’t have the excuse that it’s too hot to write. And I’ve written this blog all about nothing really, so tomorrow I better get re-drafting.


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