Does writing stop you living or vice versa?

 I suspect you are a better person than I and remember to do important things even when you're writing. You are organised, on the ball, easily able to compartmentalise your writing life from your everyday life. You hang out washing and cook/eat on time. You floss. Your writing flows from your deeply held values and well read mind. Never from sudden revelations at inconvenient moments requiring a hasty scribble on the back of a dry cleaning receipt from 2016.

Sigh. Here are my most memorable life FAILS because I've been writing/thinking about writing/planning new scenes for my book: -

  • Left washing mouldering in the machine for 24 hours. Told the husband I think the machines are too quick these days and can't be getting things clean enough
  • Tried to get into the wrong car in Tesco's car park. It was red, the same size and beeped when I clicked the thingy. Mine was parked two rows in front
  • Rang the police to report a stolen bike, and only remembered when they asked, "When did you last see it, Madam?" that I cycled to work that day and accidentally forgot to cycle back
  • Omitted to put the front on our Grind and Brew coffee machine so that it fired ground coffee directly at me for 30 seconds before I twigged, brownly, that the best thing to do was turn it off at the mains
  • Forgot about a mini roundabout and had to endure a testosterone-fuelled boy group honking and gesticulating at me until the next roundabout when they, thankfully, turned off
Now this will certainly give you the impression I'm a scatterbrain. I'm mainly not. I am very organised for school, I have friends who are real adults, my sock drawer is exemplary. It's just when I'm writing or thinking about writing, I can forget to live life. Yet, here's the thing. I've had some of my best ideas for writing when I have in fact been living life. Here are a few: -
  • I had the idea to call my novella The Evenness of Things after I'd finished it, on the way back from the dentist (a life-event I put off). The row of terraced houses ahead of me were fronted by identical window boxes and black painted railings. I thought they looked a bit like teeth. Then I thought what a wonderful evenness there was about them. It occurred to me that the evenness of things is pleasing to the human eye. Then I just knew. That's the title
  • I thought of my favourite More Than Writers post while messaging my daughter-in-law during Lockdown 
  • A character in my current book owes her love of cleaning fluids to a supermarket visit to buy cleaning fluid. I could not believe the number and range available and decided some people must actively like cleaning
  • I had an idea for an article published in the tes about playground duty when I was on playground duty, observing how different people supervised the children
  • It occurred to me, overcoming my terror of motorways, to drive to friends in London, that love makes you braver. This became the title of my new book
Sometimes I resent life, work and sleep because it feels as though they get in the way of writing.  But the truth is we're meant to live as well as write, to squeeze the juice out of each God-given moment and trust our writer's instinct to get ideas from them. Putting out washing, cooking, running errands, may not be the distractions we think. Their apparent mindlessness can rake the soil of our sub-conscious, offering space for those green shoots of inspiration to knife their way into the light.

True story: Yesterday I told my husband I was off to finish a blog post about the crazy things I can do when thinking about writing.
"You mean like putting your leggings on inside out?" he said.
I looked down and back. "Um, yes, " I said.

Deborah Jenkins is the author of textbooks, educational articles and a novella ,The Evenness of Things, currently downloadable as a kindle e-book but soon also available in paperback. 

Her novel, Braver, will be published in the summer of 2022 by Fairlight Books

Deborah wonders aloud about the crazy, inspiring and inappropriate, on her blog,

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