Sunday, 8 January 2012


So this is where the next book will be penned. Bit exposed to the elements, I admit, but you have to use your imagination. Because following an imminent erection, a writing den will adorn the bottom of my garden. It will have a small wood burner, gnarled furniture, but mostly solitude. Just the sound of the river and birdsong for company.

As I settle into the hard graft of the next novel, I’m increasingly aware of distractions: a phone call, a visitor, the interweb and all its prosaic lure. I’ve always had an envy for writers who take themselves away, immersing in deepest, darkest somewhere, barely a candle and some stale bread for sustenance, as snow piles up around their cabin, communication with the outside world put from temptation’s reach. The intensity of just them and the book, finally emerging months, years later, bearded (even the women), half their body weight gone, triumphantly holding aloft a manuscript of sheer genius.

And whereas this seclusion is possible for a week or two – plenty of writerly friends book themselves a retreat of sorts – the practicalities of real life prevent it occuring on any grand scale. So I thought I’d bring the retreat to me. A little snug with no phone line, just out of wireless range, no electricity. Accessible in ten seconds. I will go there, a-hum, every day and just write.

So what of the next book? Well, firstly writing to a (publisher induced) deadline is a new experience. Novel #1 was forged amid the luxury of timelessness (other than a self-imposed goal, by way of keeping insanity at bay). I wrote when I wanted to, at the pace I felt like. And so there’s motivation and a little terror the whole way this time. I’m having to revise my idea of discipline and commitment. And for the first time in life, I’m learning to say No.

Coming soon: 'AFTER'


Sue Guiney said...

It's great to see that you'll be cocooning yourself. That's the way I think of it and although I am able to take a week once a year to go to a retreat, the rest of the time I try to find ways of cocooning myself in order to write. And this deadline thing....I have one too and it is frightening to be sure. But amazingly, it does help you get the book done. I still struggle with saying no though.Best of luck to you.

TOM VOWLER said...

Hi Sue
Thanks for stopping by.
Good to hear from you.

Paul said...

My writing solitude comes from timing rather than location. I rise in the wee small hours when the house is quiet, give the dogs a treat so they'll leave me alone, grab my pitcher of iced tea (unsweetened, of course), and retire to the repurposed bedroom left behind by one of my departing children.

I actually do have a cabin in the woods with many of the features you describe including solitude, no internet connection, and no electricity. I can't milk more than three hours out of my laptop battery though, so it's not like I can devote a weekend to writing there. Also, there's just too much going on out in the woods with birds and critters and paths to be walked.

Have you seen the cabin writer Michael Pollan made for himself?

TOM VOWLER said...

Hi Paul
Now that's a writing cabin.