The sensible thing to do, of course, is to get straight on with something else; stop thinking about the other. But I am unfocused; my mind has no fixed abode. And I’m lazy – no, not quite so much lazy as torpid.
It’s not that I don’t have plenty to do. Next week I have a meeting with a producer in Manchester to talk over some ideas for a radio play. I really need to get these ideas down in writing, at least in summary if not in pitch form; but I can’t impel myself to start it yet (don’t you just hate writing pitches? ). Then there’s my on-going collection of stories to add to. And of course developing ideas for a new novel. If I could just get myself round to doing any of this…
What is at the root of this procrastination? I suppose it’s a combination of lingering on the old project, temporary fatigue, and the tyranny of the blank page. If only I had the discipline of prolific Victorian novelist Anthony Trollope, who famously would dot the last dot on one manuscript and immediately pick up a fresh sheet to start on his next if he had not completed his quota for the day. Trollope combined his work as an author with a senior position at the Post Office. He would write on a specially-made portable desk as he travelled on train journeys for his day job. At home he rose at 5.30 am and wrote for three hours, keeping a watch on his desk to ensure he kept to his target of 250 words every fifteen minutes. He also kept a diary recording the number of pages he’d written each day. This part-timer managed an output of 47 published novels. Mind you, in this contemporary cartoon I came across, he seems to have found time for playing with a doll while sitting on some of those books he wrote.
I don’t think I’ll ever have the discipline of a Trollope, nor the confidence of Shakespeare, who supposedly never bothered with redrafts. It is said that Shakespeare never blotted out a line, though to be fair Ben Jonson’s response to that was, ‘Would he had blotted a thousand’.
Oh, I’ll get round to filling those six weeks with something or other vaguely productive before I start out blotting out some of the lines of Mr Stephenson’s Regret. Come to think of it, I’ve made a start with these 500 words. I knew there was some reason for keeping a blog.