Day 39


One of the things I really miss about my old life working on newspapers and magazines is being surrounded by very bright, funny, interesting people all the time.

Most days now, I’m on my own all day. Talking to myself, because that’s how I write. I say all the dialogue out loud.

The afternoon I realised I was making conversation with the nice lady who works on the tills in M&S, because I hadn’t spoken to anyone for six hours, I began to wonder if this is a very healthy way to live.

But while I don’t have smart colleagues around me any more for jokes and proper serious conceptual conversations, I do have the most wonderful friends like that on Twitter.

There are loads of people on there I chat to all the time and we’ve never met, or only once.

Today I’ve talked to @ovationchris, @jillmansell, @nivengovinden, @philippaperry and in a nice bit of circularity, @keithaustin, who is one of the great people I worked with on the Sydney Morning Herald.

I also had three-way laughs with my pals @kathylette and @wendyharmer.

I love Twitter.

And Jill Mansell introduced me to this fabulous Tumblr, Humans of New York.

Day 37


Today I did eighty pages of my copy edit. Although I do it on screen now, not on paper. So much easier.

I worked on it for twelve hours.

I know longer feel like I’m letting down my publisher, my editor, my mother, my husband, my daughter, everyone I’ve ever met…

The end is in sight.

I even laughed at a few of my own jokes.

Day 25


This has been a wondrous day.

For the past week I have been suffering the only professional torture I know worse than writer’s block: editor’s block.

I have quite a short deadline to get the copy edit of my novel back to the publisher and I had become completely stuck on one chapter.

I kept going past it and then I’d come back, knowing it wasn’t right, knowing why it wasn’t right, yet oddly unable to make it better. I felt frozen.

It was deeply distressing because it’s not like I haven’t done this before… this is my eighth novel. I should know how this stuff works by now, but sometimes my confidence just gets completely shattered.

Then last night I finally found the courage to send my wonderful editor/publisher an Email of Shame, confessing I was making no progress.

This morning I woke up to find the most wonderfully warm and sympathetic reply with the perfect advice. Then after I’d had breakfast I found a new email from another editor at Harper Collins with really constructive detailed advice how I could put fix it.

It was like I was locked in a dark room and someone had switched a light on. Immediately I was able to get to work and by the end of the day I had entirely re-written the problem chapter, twisting the time frame of it round.

The difference is I am no longer telling it all as a number of things which had happened previously, which gives a book a dead feeling.

I converted all those described events to real-time action, conducted mostly in dialogue, which is by far my favourite thing to write.

Specially when a lot of it is coming out of the mouth of my male lead with whom I am always very much in love.

So I’ve just sent it off to them and I’m going to bed keen and eager to get back to the rest of the edit tomorrow, rather than feeling like I am going to the scaffold.

I also made some chicken soup.

Day 19

Deep breath deep breath… This is the first time I really wasn’t sure I could do this.

It’s been one of those days when I just haven’t felt right in my skin.

It was another exceptionally beautiful astonishing day – a towering blue sky, the sea sparkling – but we’ve had so many of them now (and this is wicked, but I have to tell the truth) I’ve got used to them.

I must remind myself of that in April when it’s freezing cold, raining ice and there’s a howling wind blowing.

I know why I’m blue. It’s nothing sinister. I’m on the copy edit stage of my book and it doesn’t matter that it’s the gasquillionth time I’ve done it, it makes me want to rip my own head off and put it on backwards.

I spent all afternoon on one sentence. True.

So it’s been one of those days when I couldn’t even find the joy in the joyous things and it feels more real to sit with that than try and be happy about a sunbeam.

My daughter had three lovely friends over for dinner and they are hilarious and beautiful and I love them, but it was like a version of that travel thing – wherever you go, there you are.

Whoever was at my table, there I was.

But still… there have been some good moments. I played Take That while I was making the dinner. That made me happy. Especially darling Jason Orange (no longer in the band, sob) singing Wooden Boat. I so love his Manchester accent while he sings.

That’s the time to be the first one on the dance floor.

Then just now I looked at my emails and my lovely pal Tammy had sent a message saying she’s facing up to an all nighter on her novel, so I felt better about my editing angst.

It means so much to me to have so many lovely friends who are also novelists.

And one other thing that did give me a boast. I had a real flash of inspiration for my next book. It’s all about the corridor…