Monday, January 10, 2011

Reading vs writing (and renovating)

I'm going to have to take a break from this blog for a while, because I need to start working on a new novel. Not that I'm not one of those authors who stop reading while they're writing. I don't even stop reading while I'm brushing my teeth. I'm always astonished when I hear authors say they don't read for lack of time or fear of contagion by another author's style or whatever reason they manage to find.

How can a writer not read? If you don't read books, surely you still read newspapers, magazines, internet articles, cornflake boxes, grafitti on the back of public toilet doors? And couldn't all these words, words, words also influence your style? So why not rather read a good book? Or even better, read various brilliant books by various brilliant authors, so your style won't be influenced by a single one but might benefit from general exposure to brilliance!

So rest assured, I'll keep reading - but I know I'll have even less time than usual to write about what I'm reading. Because my second reason for begging some time out is that I'm in the process of moving out of an old house into another old house which needs a lot of TLC - that coy phrase property agents love to use when they actually mean you'll be driven to despair, divorce or a nervous breakdown by the challenges of the renovating process. For the past two months all my weekends and free time have been devoted to this task - which is why I haven't finished Hilary Mantel's magnificent Wolf Hall, started before Christmas already - and I think I can safely say that this unsatisfactory situation will continue for quite a while.

But oh, the comfort a good book can give while you're busy with mind-numbing menial jobs like scrubbing shreds of old wallpaper off damp walls! My hands may be cleaning and sanding a wooden floor in France, but my mind is constantly engaged by Henri VIII's glittering court in sixteenth century England. Thank you, Hilary Mantel, thank you. I'm reading the novel about Thomas Cromwell's amazing rise to power ever so slowly, not only because I lack the time to tackle the more than 600 pages in any other way, but because it is turning out to be a very commendable cure for the home-renovating blues.

Meanwhile, if you're following this blog, wish me luck - and don't stop reading. I promise you I won't.


  1. Hi, what inspire you to write? is it your children? Or husband? Or is it something totally different?

  2. Where do you like to write? I know some authors like to write in their gardens and others like to write at their desk.

  3. I can write in a tree if I have to! But usually I need the discipline of my desk and the silence of a room of my own.

  4. What inspires me? Life and death and everything in between.