Writers are notorious for coming up with extremely good reasons to procrastinate*.
“The novella just had to be finished soon, or she would go mad. But events seemed to conspire against her. She had lost an entire day last week when a giant lizard ran amok in the study…”
“Finally she fell into bed exhausted after a long day in front of the computer. The words just didn’t seem to flow. If only she could get a good night’s sleep! Eight hours later she was back at her desk, hollow-eyed, having spent the entire night trying to escape from a dive-bombing bat which had somehow got into the bedroom.”
As a long, hot August draws to an end, another chapter comes to a close in the Tarn version of E. M. Delafield’s ‘Diary of a Provincial Lady’.
Guests have come and gone.
Concerts have been attended, classical and jazz.
The lavender has been cut back and peach jam has been made. Life has been good.
And that novella, the one that should have been out in June? Something about desire, and passages? So sweet of you to ask. Currently it is undergoing a full body lift after numerous nips and tucks. Yes, obviously it should now be up on Amazon with its beautiful new cover (more of that later).
But you know how it is, progress has been interrupted by the ‘inequalities of Fate’ as E. M. Delafield calls them in her wonderful book about life in a 1930s Devonshire village.
This gently satirical, extremely funny, book recounts the everyday tribulations involved in running a middle class household, serving on the Women’s Institute, dealing with snobbish aristocrats, trying to get rid of The Vicar’s Wife, struggling to grow a pot of hyacinths and finding time to get on with her writing.
Here is E. M. trying to concentrate on her latest literary project:
“June 3rd.–Astounding and enchanting change in the weather, which becomes warm. I carry chair, writing-materials, rug and cushion into the garden, but am called in to have a look at the Pantry Sink, please, as it seems to have blocked itself up.”
Ah, the famous Pantry Sink syndrome. It manifested itself here last week in different forms on two separate occasions. I had just been re-writing (again) a particularly tricky scene in ‘The Passage of Desire’ when I became conscious of an eerie, scrabbling sound in the region of the bookcase. Suddenly a long scaly creature shot across the study, underneath my desk (narrowly missing bare feet) and vanished behind a cupboard.
‘Help!’ I shrieked.
This was obviously a job for the Maître de Maison (MDM). We operate on a clear division of labour principle. He deals with spiders, crickets and other animal invaders, I make the lavender sachets. This particular animal invader was a lizard. A big, bold Jurassic lizard. Not content with its beautiful home in the patio (why?) it had evidently decided on a move.
One hour later all the furniture had been pulled away from the walls, the rugs had been removed and the bookshelves scoured. No lizard.
“Are you sure you saw one?’
Now, as any relationship counsellor will tell you, that is not a helpful question at times of stress. A terse Franco-Britannique exchange ensued, ending with the unsatisfying (to me) verdict:
“Well it must have got out again.’
The MDM began to put away his lizard-tackling equipment viz: two tea towels (best quality linen), the dustpan, and a high-beam Maglite. Suddenly (again) there was a scuttling noise overhead and we both shrieked as the wily reptile made a flying leap across our heads and out of the window.
Obviously I was too unnerved to do any more work that day, being forced to lie down on a sunbed with my copy of ‘Wuthering Heights’ (which actually figures in ‘The Passage of Desire’, so you could say I was doing research). Here’s the scene in which Mr Lockwood, forced to spend a night at the isolated snowbound house high on the moors, is woken by a noise at the window. He concludes it is ‘the branch of a fir-tree that touched my lattice, as the blast wailed by’, but finally, unable to sleep, he opens the window to ‘seize the importune branch’ but finds instead… ‘my fingers closed on the fingers of a little, ice-cold hand!’
A couple of nights later that riveting scene conjured up by Emily’s wondrous pen was still playing in my mind as I drifted off to sleep.
Tap tap! Tap tap!
Something was trying to get in through the window. As I came out of the dream, I realised that something was trying to get in, through our window.
Horreur des horreurs!!!
Fortunately, the Maitre de Maison was on the case, Maglite in hand, reaching cautiously for the catch.
This time the shriek did not come from me, and it was in French.
‘What is it, what is it, put the light on! Aargh!’
Something whistled past my head, narrowly missing my hair, good job I’d ditched the Kate Bush hairstyle many moons ago.
‘It is a bat!’
One minute later and we’d have been full swing into the ‘moth/meuth’ routine from ‘A Shot in the Dark’. But we hardly had time to get going before the nocturnal Red Baron launched into the series of ultra-rapid, ultra-acrobatic dive- bombing manoeuvres so beloved of The Red Arrows and the Patrouille de France, resulting in the MDM racing out of the room (the reum) to get the long-handled cobweb brush and me pulling the sheet over my head, each of us wailing in different languages.
As I say, it’s been a long, hot August here in the country, with its fair share of Pantry Sinks.
I’d like to say a huge thank you to Denise Baer, a gracious and talented lady who kindly invited me on to her blog to talk about country matters and the joy of writing. She has just posted a tempting squash recipe for those in search of culinary inspiration:
Another thank you, and WOW! to GX and Caroline at Graphicszxdesigns for the cover for ‘The Passage of Desire’.
Now I just have to write those final words. Or stop writing those final words. And avoid the Pantry Sink.
- Norah Deay’s blog post for procrastinating writers:
17 thoughts on “There’s always tomorrow…”
I well know the lizard interruption excuse from personal experience. One of my cats, Kalinda, used to bring them into the house and turn them loose–I think she meant them as presents. Not having a MDM, I was on my own and had to develop a technique for capturing them on my own–this in itself took immense amounts of time to learn and perfect. This was in California. Since moving to South Carolina, no more lizards, and although we have frogs and toads, Kalinda no longer polices the wilds, being confined to a screened porch, but the excuses to procrastinate on the writing continue to abound. As writers, are we doomed?
Hope your bat friend has given up on regaining entry to your abode, Laurette, although perhaps he/she has a message to deliver? If there is another encounter, perhaps you should ask.
Thanks for your comment and feline anecdote Nancy, am warmed to know we are sisters-in-lizards. Happy to report there have been no further lizard invasions, maybe because of the horrific sight I witnessed the other evening, sitting outdoors and sipping an apéro…A long green thing reared up out of the field on the other side of the road, snapped its jaws around a squirming lizard and disappeared into the long grass!! I was sure it was the Loch Ness monster but the MDM informed me it was a grass-snake or ‘couleuvre’ as they’re known here. Whew. Interesting theory on the bat and its message, am beginning to think somebody somewhere is trying to tell me something…xx
Oh, good grief, Laurette! Give me a lizard anytime over that “long green thing” you saw the other night–that would have put me on the roof! We have many varieties of those here in South Carolina too, but so far, so good, and none has been sighted on my property, and I pray, never will be. (I keep the grass mowed very close to the ground to minimize any undercover activity.)
All authors need ear-plugs – not necessarily for sleep but while working. I recommend silicone – they are the only ones that totally cut out noise. Great for when the workmen are drilling up the road outside your window!
Great post Laurette!
Thanks Alison!!! So, workmen drilling up the road, what another great excuse to procrastinate 😉 Thanks for the earplug tip, where are you at with your new book cover?xx
You are getting all kinds of creatures coming around. They must feel at home. Love the post, and thanks for the mention. Take care.
Lovely to hear from you Denise, glad you liked the post. Talking of creatures, I’ve been admiring Shakespeare in the photos on your latest blog (click on to Denise’s link above to see who Shakespeare is…) I’m sure the wet weather didn’t bother him, all part of the Welsh charm…xx
As long as he’s not a vampire bat – Loved your descriptions, Laurette – wish my interruptions were as entertaining/exciting.
Thank you Mags!! Not sure if s/he was a vampire, had head under sheet 😉 but s/he’s persistent, back once more last night (that’s 3 times now) so finally we have taken down insect screen and hoping tonight he’ll head for the neighbour’s. Just seen you have a recent book out with The New Romantics, love the title -Take a Chance on Us- great idea to do a ‘taster’ of your combined works. And…just seen your review of ‘Biarritz Passion’. Thrilled to my toes…xx
Hello my hipster sister,
Rest up and listen to more music. I love the architecture in the photos; so lovely and inviting. And that book cover is a winner. Continuing to hold you in my heart and send you good thoughts. Always. <3 your across the ocean hipster sister
Thank you chère Paulette, with heart and hip! Music indeed has charms to soothe the savage breast, or as is often misquoted, the savage beast, maybe I should try it on the lizards heh heh. The architecture is the old wall of the former cowshed, happy cows!
I feel your good thoughts and ping them right back across the miles, so glad you like the book cover, the designers are a great team to work with. Hoping all well with dogs and new projects xxx
We did not have many lizards in Mombercelli this year. I suspect they had all been eaten by local stray cats. Around near us their tails are irresistible ‘da mangiare’.
Courage and father with the writing! With a cover like that to inspire you it will soon be done!
Larks??? we don’t need larks as well 😉
So, the Italian cats are lovers of lizards’ tails, what do your two think? Hope you had a lovely time a la casa, thrilled to bits about la belle Elsa, will be writing. Many thanks for your encouragement, what news of pots and mud?? xxx
How wonderful! Your descriptions made me laugh out loud. Yes, I realize that it wasn’t funny at the time, but on paper…ohooh là là!
Thank you Leslie!!! Glad you had a laugh. And… you’re not going to believe this, but Batman made a return last night! We had firmly closed the window but he started tapping again. Didn’t open the window this time (ha!) but shone the Maglite 😉 and somehow he (or she?) manages to get in between the window pane and the insect screen. This morning s/he was gone, just hope we’ve not acquired a lovelorn stalker…xx
Oh, no! I’m sure you’re longing for a decent night’s sleep by now. Poor you!
Earplugs at the ready 😉