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The Ideal Accompaniments

Laurel ad Hardy saying 'Shh'

We are delighted to re-post a blog entry made on Tracey West’s website.

She is our sustainable living and more recently, divorce author and she knows a thing or two about dark writing in the dark!

Enjoy and feel free to leave a comment with your secret.

The widely acclaimed crime writer, P D James recently commented on what she needs around her in order to start writing.

She said, ‘I write by hand and I can write more or less anywhere as long as I’ve got a comfortable chair, a table, an unlimited amount of biros to write with and lined paper to write on’.

With more than 20 books under her belt, including the captivating Adam Dalgleish mysteries and ‘The Children of Men‘ amongst them, with simple needs like that, she’s no high-maintenance diva.

Interestingly, Phyllis didn’t publish her first novel until she was 42 and as she rolls into her 94th year, it seems there is one more story she needs to liberate before she hangs up her pen and now we know how she intends to do it.

It got me thinking about my ideal circumstances to string together a few sentences and to be honest, P D James and I seem to be reading from the same page, as it were.

I can write day or night, in fact some of my most moving pieces have fallen from my fingers in the wee small hours. I need a computer to upload things, but actually prefer writing on paper and have several different notebooks dedicated to specific topics. I used a beautiful one for writing ‘Poetry of Divorce: for women‘, it had a golden orange fabric cover and was simply the most magnificent thing to write in.

Green notebook and penciFor ‘Deadhead the Roses‘, my next piece of fiction, I’ve been gifted an exquisite textured jade-green notebook. It is filling up nicely with phrases, words and situations that arrive at the most inopportune times, so I pop them in the notebook where they sit patiently waiting to be selected and slotted into their proper place.

I quite favour pencils to be honest, they are sensual to write with if you ask me and I think it certainly helps to make your handwriting more legible if the flow of your instrument is smooth and consistent.

As for stuff – widgets, gadgets, fruit and flowers etc – I need nothing more than my drinking vessel of the moment and an endless supply of organic Fairtrade tea and black coffee.

Oh and a hot-water bottle to lay at the base of my spine. I don’t suffer from back aches at all, it’s just a divine heat source that seems to feed my very soul. Warm is good, warm makes the words flow like a river.

Finally and perhaps most crucially, I need silence.

I cannot write with the radio seducing my ears with songs vying for my brains’ full attention, urging my mouth to sing along. And I’ve no chance of proofreading my work unless there’s silence in the room, or a hard-pressed index finger in my right ear. I am deaf in the left one, ideal really, only one active finger required.

However, I can write with classical music or zenny, meditative, spa-type music, the kind of stuff you associate with deep tissue massages and Buddhist Monks, although not necessarily in the same thought bubble.

So there you have it, the secrets that bring forth my literary muse.

What are yours?