I caught myself at lunch, chatting to two others working here, saying “and then I go back to my room and do a bit more work every night”. I’ve been here just three days and already I’m talking about it as if it’s usual. Not hard to get into an easy routine though, when so much is done for you – I love to cook, enjoy the thinking about what to make and the preparation, but I have to say, having meals made for me does seem to free up a huge amount of time.
So far, the routine that’s foisted itself upon me has had more to do with an urgent need to finish the re-writing of the State of Happiness film script by this morning so it could go off to the producers and their next step. It’s all hopeful again – fingers crossed and best wishes/prayers/chants accompanying it, if you have any to spare! – but has taken a lot of work, in a very short space of time to get it ready. Which means my last two days’ routine has been : work, tea, work, lunch, walk, read a chapter of my current reading book (Sarah Quigley’s brilliant The Conductor) work, scone/cake/something yummy, work, dinner, work – and then leaving the library at night to go to my room and keep working. Going to bed at 2am and 1.30am means I haven’t made it for breakfast since the first morning, but there do always seem to be plenty of scones available at all hours. Which is very lovely.
I’m also hugely enjoying taking myself out for walks after lunch. Yes, I could do this at home, and yes, I do love Ruskin Park, but I’m easily bored on a walk, so I like to go to new places, take new routes as often as possible. And of course that’s very easy here as it’s all new to me.
Yesterday I took a while from the film script to deal with map proofs that had come through from Virago for The Purple Shroud. Maps are absolutely my thing in that I far prefer them to sat-nav, I love a good old map, in fact I like them enough for cartography to be a central image in State of Happiness, but I am no expert in 6th century Constantinople/Roman Empire maps. And all my research books are at home. And I had to sign off on the final proofs. Gah … and then I looked around. I’ve made my little desk-home in the history room here, and in the opposite corner I found them, two dozen books on late Rome/early Byzantine, loads of them with maps, quite a few of them earlier editions of the books I’ve been referring to myself. Phew. Maps proofed, emailed back. And a chance to feel like I was really using the library.
Which brings me to a small regret, there’s so much here that I’d love to just sit and read – shelves of Marian theology for example, stuff I turned to again and again for Immaculate Conceit; a whole room of Islamic writing; an annexe of even more varied work; periodicals; pamphlets; tons on Gladstone of course; and this room I’m in now, all history – ALL of it. Ah. And the thing is, even though I’ve delivered the SoH script, I have another one waiting on a second draft right now. And notes for two other people’s scripts I’m helping with. Which is brilliant. It’s wonderful to have the time and space to just get on. Except I also hoped for some time and space her to not get on, to sit around, to read, to lounge on the big fat sofas and just … let the next story come to me. Because I have two book ideas hanging around in the back of my mind and they’re very nebulous just now and they want some time to … arrive. I want some time to call the new stories in, allow them to show themselves. And living in a library for a few weeks seems like the perfect place for that to happen.
So … on with the next script, and on with the smaller projects/bits of work, so that hopefully, in another week to ten days, I’ll have just that. The sitting back time and letting the stories come in. (I say sitting back, my experience is that, far from sitting back once a story does begin to show itself, it’s all work and writing it down and getting the idea on paper/file before it flees … but perhaps a moment before, a moment of contemplation as it arrives …)
Today’s walk was a woodland path, just down from the old castle (I’m sure it has a proper name, I didn’t get it, sorry), but I did get these pretty pictures. Mmm.
I believe the lovely Damian Barr is in the building now, he who is more than a little responsible for my being here, not least because he alerted me to the Writers in Residence scheme. Hurrah. Gin o’clock soon, then.