What stops you from writing more? Yes, same here. Time. Once you’ve factored in the day job, the commute, the housework, the, er, evenings drinking wine with friends or simply collapsing in a heap – what’s left over for writing?
A recent Mslexia survey asked women about this big elephant in the room. When do we find time to write? It’s hard to know whether to be inspired or depressed by the results. Women write all the time – but squeezed in around the margins, in odd moments on the train, in lunch hours, early in the morning, putting in a couple of hours before the world awakes. Or late at night, once the children have gone to sleep, there we are, tapping away on the keyboard, desperately carving out a few minutes to get our thoughts down before sleep claims us and another day is over.
Well, I’ve put down a marker for myself. This year, I’ve been given permission to take a sabbatical from work; three whole months when I can devote myself to creative writing. The aim is simple: to get my novel into a shape where I’m happy to send it to an agent. If, after three months’ intensive work, that hasn’t happened, I think I can safely say it won’t happen any time soon.
I have no illusions about my good fortune. I’m lucky to have an employer that believes in letting people take sabbaticals, if it can be accommodated. I’m lucky to be in a financial position to manage without my salary for three months. I’m lucky that I have no dependants who need full time care from me, and a husband who wants me to be able to fulfil this particular dream.
So, come May, I will be waving goodbye to my colleagues and packing up the house. I’ll spend May, June and July in Oulton Broad, a lovely sleepy corner of Suffolk where the Gentleman Caller is currently engaged on learning to build wooden boats. It’s time to find out whether you can take the Bluestocking out of Bloomsbury, if not Bloomsbury out of the girl.
There’s only one niggling worry on that cerulean-blue horizon. You know the one. What on earth will be my excuse for not writing now?
I’ll let you know how it goes.