Every week I will be bringing you a sneak peek of A Novel Idea, my new weekly column in The Lady magazine in the UK (http://www.lady.co.uk/). What my readers may not know, and as my new weekly column for The Lady will reveal, is that I also spend an awful lot of time avoiding writing my novels. Take my work in progress, the title of which you will discover over the coming months; have I started it? Or have I been online shopping, drinking coffee, gardening, tending to my family and other animals? The clues are in my columns…
By Jane Green
Hours spent driving: 4.5
Hours spent playing solitaire: 2
Hours spent lugging stuff to and from the beach: .5
Hours spent cooking/cleaning: 3
Hours spent writing: 0
I am just back from a four and a half drive back from Nantucket. I should have started the new novel, but Nantucket was calling, and when Nantucket calls, there is only one thing to do.
It is a four and a half hour drive to Nantucket, which feels like nothing to me these days. Growing up in London the thought of driving anywhere for longer than three hours filled me with abject horror (unless it was the usual three hours to get from Hampstead to Soho, which was par for the course on particularly bad traffic days).
Since moving to America fifteen years ago, I think nothing of jumping in the car and driving seven hours to Maine for an overnight visit with my daughter at camp. In fact, I positively relish the journey, not least because some of my best ideas for novels seem to come to me in cars.
Sometimes, I listen to books on tape. (I wholeheartedly recommend Wild by Cheryl Strayed), occasionally I listen to cheesy old music of my childhood and sing along very loudly to Wings and Paul Simon, but mostly I have fascinating conversations with myself about my characters and my stories.
Every now and then someone will pull alongside me and I will catch them staring as I animatedly chat. In the old days, I would be mortified, immediately pretending to be singing along to a song they couldn’t hear, but now, thanks to Bluetooth, I figure I just look as if I am chatting on speaker.
In America, here on the East Coast, road trips in the Summer are de rigueur. Every holiday is spent piling all our earthly possessions into a giant SUV, before driving hours and hours to somewhere like Nantucket or Cape Cod.
No-one stays in hotels here. We rent crumbling houses and lug beach chairs and umbrellas, coolers filled with picnic lunches and cold drinks, to a deserted beach with no amenities, then bake in the sun all day, trekking back only when we’re desperate for the loo.
The first time we did this, we rented a house for a month on Nantucket. I got up every day, made breakfast for our six children who were at the time, Smalls (they are now Mediums with a couple of Larges), washed up, put the laundry on, started preparing lunch, did some ironing, cleaned the house. I managed just under an hour of sunbathing a day, and by the time the rental ended I was exhausted. All I could think about was a luxury hotel in the Mediterranean.
Preferably by myself.
I am about to institute a new house policy: if it doesn’t have room service and someone to make the bed every day, I’m not going. And yes, I will accept room service from the Mediums. I’ll even let them make my bed, because reader, there is a first for everything in life.
For the record, I’m definitely starting my new novel on Monday.
Comments are closed.