I have a mental picture of Sophie
Ranald, Writer. In it she works at an antique writing table with elegant,
spindly legs that looks like it could go skittering away across the carpet at
any minute. Next to her is a bone-china cup of green tea, and she takes the
occasional sip, turning her head to gaze at the profusion of roses blooming in
the garden outside. Their fragrance wafts through the open window. The sun
catches Sophie’s smooth, glossy hair. Her hands on the keyboard are soft and
white. Her silk dress is freshly ironed.
Ha! This is so not what it’s like.
Quite often I write in bed, with the laptop propped up on my knees. Purrs, our
cat, likes to curl up in the crook of my arm, which means tying one-handed.
When the computer’s fan goes into overdrive and the pillows become
uncomfortably squashed, I’ll venture downstairs to finish the day’s work at my
dining room table.
Ergonomically, this leaves a lot
to be desired. When I was writing It
Would Be Wrong to Steal My Sister’s Boyfriend (Wouldn’t It?) I developed
tennis elbow from writing with my arms at too acute an angle. I may have to
invest in a higher chair for my next novel.
The room is bright and quiet,
except when my neighbour is doing her flute practice or Purrs wants attention.
If squeaking at me doesn’t work, she brings me one of her toy mice and paws my
leg if I don’t notice it (that’s the cat, not the neighbour).
I can look out into our garden,
but it isn’t the bosky paradise of my dreams – mostly what I can see is my
washing line, which provides brilliant distraction because I get up often and
check how dry the clothes are. Writers have very clean clothes; laundry
provides unparalleled opportunities for procrastination.
I don’t need notebooks,
dictionaries or other clutter around me when I write, because I do most of my
research online and use Scrivener for planning, so usually my workspace holds
just the laptop, coffee mug and water glass. Quite often Purrs comes and has a
drink of my water before curling up on my lap for a cuddle. Then it’s back to
typing with one hand.
Sophie’s novel It Would Be Wrong to Steal My Sister’s Boyfriend (Wouldn’t
It?) is out now.