A writer in recess

Once upon a time when my daughter was very young and I wasn’t held at gunpoint by the government to work for diddlysquat, I used to write.  I used to sit down every morning, after I’d walked my daughter to school (exercise I rather miss now, amongst other things) and with tremendous discipline, start writing.  I worked until lunch time, often beyond.  I started the same way every day:  with a cup of barley, some music and a card game on my computer.  Every novel has had its own music.  And I would listen to the same music for the novel, even if it took two years to write, every single day, the same tracks, the same order.  There probably isn’t a note of Einaudi that I don’t know.  One track even got into a novel:  that’s how important it was.

But what I recall mostly is the discipline.  I never shirked.  I looked forward to writing, even when it was tough, even when I had to do rewrites and rethinks, when the plot went awry, or I wrote myself into a corner and couldn’t untrap the character.  I enjoyed it because I knew that time was precious.  I knew it wasn’t going to last.  I couldn’t not work (ie remain unemployed) forever.  I had a five year plan:  when I’d produced enough work, I would get it published.  And then I’d be able to carry on.  And on and on and on…

…watch the dreams crumble into dust and the hopes fade on the stinking hot London breeze.


This week I had three days to myself.  It’s the first three days I’ve had to myself for years.  My daughter is back at school and I’ve got a few days leave.  I’d already made all the notes I needed to make about Transference and just needed to sit down and do some rewriting.  The first few chapters, the last few chapters, some neatening up and corrections inbetween.  On Wednesday I sat down with my cup of barley and my music and my card game (actually it’s Mahjong Titans now) and wrote for the first time in a long, long time.  The feeling was glorious.  It’s all I want to do.  I just want to write.


I put this year aside to learn all about how to sell myself, how self-publishing works, what other writers are doing.  I’ve learnt FAR more than I ever expected and met some wonderful people on the way.  My future as a writer seems much clearer:  I know what I’m going to do next.  Finish editing Transference.  Put it aside.  Edit Ultra and then use it as my experiment novel in self-publishing.  And then the Fleet Quintet will appear.  I could publish up to three novels next year.  Easily.


But when am I going to sit down again on a cold, sunny morning with my cup of barley and Einaudi and a Mahjong game?  When am I going to CREATE again?  Start a novel from scratch?  A whole new adventure, for me as well as the characters?  All those ideas…when will they fruit?  How am I going to do this when I have to get more work, when the taste in my mouth is still of bitter disappointment at how things turned out?


It was just a moment but in that wonderful moment, the writer that is the real me came out of recess.  I was so glad to see her again.




About susannahjbell

I am a writer of science fiction and other strange and surreal works. I mostly write novels and the occasional novelette. My published works include A Doorway into Ultra, the Fleet Quintet and the Exodus Sequence. I live in London in an attic flat but really want to live in a tree. I wanted to be an astrophysicist but would settle for an alien abduction. I write because I don’t know what to read.
This entry was posted in On Writing and tagged , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s