One of the most interesting people I follow on twitter is Joanne Harris, the novelist. She has written many wonderful books, one of which is “Chocolat”. If you’ve seen the movie, which was good, read the book, it’s better. And “Five Quarters of the Orange” is another of my favourites. If you like black gothic books, which haunt you after you finish them, then search out one of her early ones, “Sleep, Pale Sister.”
Anyway she tweets about the Shed in her garden where she does her writing and her tweets are amazingly descriptive and evocative. I told her this morning that the Shed is far and away my favourite tweeter and she replied that the Shed sent me back a big kiss, scented with patchouli candle smoke. This started me thinking about writing environments. In my last house I had an office, with a desk (actually two desks, one for writing and my Grandfather’s Carver rolltop) and bookshelves etc. When we moved in here I had planned to use the lovely slate floored conservatory, but it is too useful a room to confine it to an office. It is a knitting room, reading room, listening to music room, play room and sun room all in one. I have a built-in desk in my bedroom and I write there. It works well. I have a view to my left side of the back garden and lots of drawers on either side of the lovely wide desktop. When it’s late and I need to close down the computer and go to bed, it’s about three steps. Actually I go via my bathroom, which is next door, but in theory it’s about three steps.
Years ago, when I worked at a Wellington radio station, the copy room was full so they put me in the cafe/tearoom. And I couldn’t use the table because that was where everyone sat to have their tea/coffee/lunch, so I wrote on top of the dishwasher. Sometimes it was going at the time. Eventually they liked my copy so much they moved a desk into the copy room. Then I missed the shaking. My point is, I learned to write anywhere. At another station we had an FM and an AM station to write for, 14 commercial minutes an hour, and there were two of us. On my busiest day I wrote 72 commercials. No time for art, you just got the message across in 30 seconds, 75 words. It was amazing training, it taught me to be focused and concise and to write regardless of how I felt or what was distracting me. I can, hand on heart, say I have never suffered from writer’s block in my life. I may sit at the computer in my bedroom, but in my imagination I am in a shed in my tree filled garden and the air is full of the sound of birds and the smell of baking bread and fresh-cut grass.
Today is the day! Today we WILL become World Champions. This morning I went to Church with temporary tattoos on my face (see below). It would have worked better if the “B” hadn’t come off the “I am Backing Black”, so it read “I am Backing Lack.” But I was in church, so I simply turned the other cheek. (That is a line I seriously doubt I will ever be able to use again.) This afternoon I am delivering more National Party pamphlets and my tattoos will cause some comment I am sure. But my heart is on my…er, cheek. I back the All Blacks all the way. We will sit there with our flags, having eaten our ‘rugby dinner’ and not sing the French anthem, no matter how much we want to. It’s the last opportunity to enjoy chip and dip and not feel guilty, we take one for the team. I know, because we have a spy almost in the camp (my brother Geoff who takes many of them fishing and shooting), that the ABs are ‘absolutely determined’ to win. I couldn’t help wondering if anyone had reminded the French team what their countrymen, historically, did to people who disappointed them??
The wait of a nation, the weight of a nation. Don’t feel pressured boys, go out there and have a great time and you will be triumphant. Most of you are young enough to be my son and I would be proud to have any of you as a son. GO THE ABs!!!!!!!!!!!!!