Here is an article for Impress Books I wrote for their series of author pieces “Where I Write”:
This week, we’re hearing from Giles Ward, author of The Price of Everything, 100 Ways to Improve the World, Spill (Some Stories) and editor of Where Beauty Is
Where I write isn’t necessarily anywhere in particular.
Yes, I have a ‘go-to’ safety room that I default to by dint of habit (the dining room) but this is where the grindstone work is done – the editing, the second draft, third, fourth, tenth. The interesting work, the telling work, the work of the imagination – the Mindsplatter of first ideas – can be done anywhere.
Mindsplatter is the first splosh of thought onto paper – the moment you spill the ideas in your head onto the notepad. Those first illuminations. They can come to you anywhere and from there it is a race to capture them by pen (or phone, or tablet, or smoke signal if that’s what it takes).
It’s not always possible, of course, but I am drawn to writing in different places, surrounded by different scenes. So I don’t mind if I write on the train or in the bedroom. The first draft of one story – Slide – was written as I listened to a boring business presentation. The story unfolded in real-time as the presenter took us through the importance of the Relationship Manager in the Procurement Process. I know, I know.
I would love to be able to pause the dinner party chatter to say ‘hold on let me take a moment to capture that thought’. In the absence of being able to do that a Star Trek style teleportation device would do (with handy time-machine handle attached). Then I could take myself to the place in my memory: I could sniff the smells, hear the chatter and study the walls with Dulux Reference Card accuracy. But alas…
Here’s an anecdote by way of illustration. In a charity bookshop I overheard two old boys behind the counter chatting, so I captured their conversation in glorious, multi-coloured ChatterTheft©:
“You look like you’ve forgotten something.”
“I’ve forgotten what I was going to talk to you about. If you know what I mean.”
“Yeah, yeah, I do know what you mean and don’t worry about it.”
“I can’t remember what I was going to say to you.”
“Well forgetfulness is part and parcel of life I’m afraid to say and even young ones they bloody suffer from it to be honest with you. But uh… we’ve got more to remember apart from anything else, haven’t we?”
These two wonderful old gents will make it into a story one day. When they do I will put them in that bookshop and I will wish I could teleport myself there in order to be able to do the scene justice. Instead I’ll make do with wherever I am at the moment that the story comes to me and Mindsplatters all over my notepad – whether that’s in the front room, bedroom, garden, beach or coffee shop.