Monday, 21 January 2013

The Importance of Timing

Given the weather, you're probably expecting me to have a general whinge about the weather. The snow, the ice, the buses that can manage to get over the hump-backed bridge into the village but won't risk the three-point turn near the pond at the official end of their route. The fact that it is warmer in my office than in my house and I have been *forced*, I tell you, for the sake of my fingers, to come and do some work. The people panic-buying fresh vegetables that they wouldn't normally touch with that overused barge-pole and won't know how to cook anyway. My woes regarding frostily-disguised potholes and my poor car.

But no. I will give you none of the above, because, frankly, you've probably read most of it elsewhere already. Possibly not the stuff about my car, but that is really more of interest to the garage in Bicester who are sorting it out again for me, having dealt with the pothole-induced slow puncture in December already.  Instead, I give you: working hours.

I acknowledge that this is possibly less amusing than poking fun at people responding to British weather (please note, not the same as climate, there's a reason we don't all have snowchains and that Heathrow has not got a full fleet of highly expensive snowploughs), but it is nonetheless interesting.

I have always known that I'm not really a morning person. Setting the alarm pains me and one of the biggest benefits of ceasing full-time employment has been the ability to wake up when I'm ready to wake up. Of course, it does mean that on the days when I *do* need to set an alarm, it's even harder to wake up, as my body is no longer in the habit of waking at 6 a.m. (Yes, there is such a time. Seven days a week, I discovered when working six days a week yet still waking bright and extremely early on a Sunday.)  I am full of admiration for people who post on Twitter at 9.30 a.m. that they're taking a coffee break after writing for two hours. Most of what I might write in that time is drivel, as anyone following my twitterfeed can tell you. My writing time really only gets going in the afternoon, preferably after a post-prandial cuppa. (It's currently 4.05 p.m. I rest my case, m'Lud.) But trying to do things like housework or exercise are completely impossible in the afternoon. I'm just too lethargic (from what, you may ask. I frequently do. Probably a tendency to anaemia and not enough chocolate.)

So I've taken to organising my days in two halves: mornings are for the treadmill, shopping runs, laundry, and then in the afternoon I contemplate my navel do some writing. Nothing terribly radical about that, I suspect. But given that we are finally realising that teenagers really don't function terribly efficiently at 9 in the morning, perhaps we should instead be asking them to do something different, requiring less intellectual effort. Tidying their rooms, perhaps? Well, it was just an idea...

So, have you found your ideal time to write? And have you been able to organise your day so that time-slot is available? And what do you do if you can't?

Sunday, 13 January 2013

Weird. Just weird.

In my life, I have been known to do some odd things. I don't mean odd by my standards, or even odd by village standards. Just odd. I tend to shy away from such behaviour when at home, but occasionally, unleashed onto the world in general, my natural reserve/common sense gives way and I can be caught surprising myself and the world. Thus I have in my time bivouaced halfway up Mount Etna, learned to drink tequila shots in the back of a moving jeep in Mexico and hiked around a volcanic crater in a cloud forest (at least, they said there was a volcanic crater there. There was certainly lots of cloud and quite a bit of forest.) in Nicaragua.

But this time I think I have excelled myself. I have been mud-bathing in a volcano, El Tortumo in Colombia. There are links on Youtube where brave souls had themselves filmed as they experienced this though I have not done anything quite that rash. Suffice to say, lying back in mud the consistency of custard with gritty bits in was weird enough. It's blood temperature and it doesn't smell (at least, it didn't the day we were there), and for anyone worried about the massage you get from the local guys who work there, that is as nothing compared to the rinse off you get from the local women in the nearby freshwater lake where we all went to get clean(ish). Anyone concerned about propriety should wear a one-piece as the women demonstrated the easiest way to remove the mud from one's cleavage is to rip the bikini top off. Would I do it again? You bet.

For those less interested in mud, we also visited a sloth sanctuary in Costa Rica. Here is a picture of a baby sloth and its mum, as posted by the sanctuary's own website - Facebook kittens eat your hearts out!

For those wondering why I haven't yet followed up on the Next Big Thing, I really really want to, but until I can do it properly and tag at least one other person to carry the meme forward, I shall be holding off. Rest assured, though, the next novel is progressing even as the sales of 'Moses in Chains' shoot solidly into double figures!