When I began writing a few years ago I didn’t have a dedicated room to write in, so it was a rather peripatetic exercise. However, whilst I am writing I spend a lot of time staring out of the window so it was nice to have a different view every day. Now I am writing full time, I have an office in the garden (formerly the garage!). It means I can leave the house and have the illusion that I have gone off to work, even though I am only yards away from my back door. It also saves my son having to walk far when he needs me to make his tea. He will just appear at the window, tapping his watch with his forefinger. Please don’t assume from this that I am neglecting my children – he’s twenty one! The room itself is serene with a bright orange feature wall which still smells of fresh paint. At one end are patio doors with a view over the golden hayfield next door. If the weather is warm, I throw the doors open and in wafts the smell of freshly cut grass on the summer breeze. Actually, that’s not true. It’s usually diesel fumes from the busy road or manure from the muck-spreading farmer!
I do love writing and I want to make that clear before I continue with the rest of this piece. However, I have somehow, subliminally maybe, mastered the art of procrastination. Working from home and being self-employed requires a huge amount of discipline but my delaying tactics have become ever more creative. I made the huge mistake of buying a jigsaw the other day. I have no idea what I was thinking. I cannot leave the house until the beds are made, the pots are washed, the bathrooms are clean and the dog has had his walk. No matter that when I was in paid employment I would leave the house looking like a cyclone had passed through it. You can’t really ring up your boss and say you’re going to be late because you have to Hoover the hall.
If I am at my desk by ten then I consider that the day has got off to a good start. Even so, the delaying tactics continue. All the paper clips need to be separated! All my writing is done on my laptop but nevertheless I spend a few minutes checking all my pencils are sharpened and I have a selection of pens at the ready in at least three different colours. I have no idea why.
All this is such a shame because when I finally do lift the lid on my laptop and the familiar Windows start-up jingle breaks the silence, I get a little frisson of excitement. Another writing day has begun and even though I know I will stop for a tea break in approximately twenty minutes, I am up and running. It is true what they say. Procrastination really is the thief of time. And so are jigsaws.
The Letter by Kathryn Hughes is out now.