Whether all authors are like me I cannot say, but from those that I have spoken to the two common denominators in us all is the desire to tell a story and the need to continue working all night if necessary if the story is flowing. Two days after the publication of ‘A Cast of Hawks’ I was rushed into hospital requiring a heart by-pass. Such were the needs of others; I waited a little over two weeks before my operation and then spent a further five days in hospital. On the last Sunday night I just could not sleep; during the course of the evenings conversation with my fellow patients someone must have said something that triggered an idea. Having climbed into bed at eleven I finally put down my writing pad at six o’clock the following morning and the plot of ‘BATSU’ had taken a dramatic turn. It took me nearly two days to recover but the effort was well worth it.
More typically though I come out to my garden office after breakfast and set to and clear messages then get down to writing. I am not one that types with speed and accuracy therefore I feel the need to read each sentence as soon as I have completed it. Maybe I go back two or three sentences to get the flow consistent, maybe a whole paragraph, a process that inevitably has me correcting and editing. Though the process is slow; even if I have started the day with no idea at all of what I am planning to write, it draws me into the story and the pace of the plot and soon the images start to form and the dialogue is heard as I step again into my parallel existences as a traitor, terrorist, assassin, wife, spy, policeman. I helm a yacht through forty-foot seas; I feel the recoil of a forty four Magnum; I see a tear stained face of a mother fearing for her abducted child.
My phone goes and I step back into reality to discuss arrangements for a book signing or library talk and use the changed existence to send off posters advertising the next event, and e-mails confirming arrangements made. Multi tasking is the norm for most authors.
It is a lonely existence for most writers, which makes it essential, when we are away from our desks, that we people watch. In that mode a writer must learn to listen to our companions conversation with care; responses, even intelligent ones are expected, but at the same time watch the mannerisms of others, as it is as much a part of our working day as tapping at the keys of our computers.
When do I finish work? When I have finished.