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9 March 2003

Okay, so I haven't been keeping this up regularly, the last couple of weeks. I've been getting complaints. Complaints! Bah humbug, I say. You wanna read a weblog, go write your own...

Well, no, don't. I'm not shirking my responsibilities, not really. It's just that I have almost no time to write at the moment, because I'm far too busy Being a Writer, doing all those other things that people who like what we write invent to stop us doing the thing that they like so much. I'm working at the university, which is taking up significantly more hours than I get paid for; and I'm dealing with a rush of stuff from America. Because they're publishing the Outremer books in this really inventive way, six volumes in six months, it means I'm getting proofs and covers and such at the same rate. Last week I was checking proofs for vol 2, cover copy for vol 4 and the copy-edit for vol 5, all needing doing yesterday.

And then when I do get back at the computer, I really need to be working on the proposal for the next fantasy; the opening chunk of it is with my agent, but while she juggles manuscript in one hand and new baby Teddy in the other, I have to write background material and synopsis and all the stuff we hate. Well, I hate. There are novelists who really like the planning and plotting, but not me. Novels are a journey, and I just like to pack and go. Someone said that being asked to write a synopsis was like being asked to draw a map of a country you haven't visited yet, which seems to me to be exact.

But it must be done, they kind of insist on it, these publishers. So, of course, every time I sit down to do it, the novella I'm working on just rises up and begs just a look, a sentence, half an hour, finish the page... Besides which, it's genuinely the most fun I've had writing something for years. My narrator is just describing the time he met his twin brother. In a jar. Bit of a pivotal moment - how can I not work on that?

And then of course there's the life outside, which has also been busy. Last three days: World Book Day on Thursday, so of course we went to an event and to the pub after and got drunk. Literary events are fatal, because they're always timed at six or seven or seven-thirty, always too early to have eaten first. And there's drink there and often lots of it, and there are friends there and often lots of them, so of course you want to go out after, so you never get to eat at all. And so I find myself swaying gently home at chucking-out time, pissed again. Ah, me.

And Friday Harry and Louise came round. Harry and I did manly and non-literary things, shaving the back door and taking the cats to the vet (just for their MOT, nothing worrying; the worried one was the vet, who had never seen anything quite like my Sophie. Queen of the Undead, I said, try not to worry...), and then I cooked curries. Got a new book to play with, a whole new family of recipes. Indian food is I think the only genre left where I still cling to recipes, because I don't have the confidence to balance that array of spices against each other without a guide. Like learning Chinese, I think it's a lifetime commitment...

And Saturday was International Women's Day, and I got to be an honorary woman for the evening, at a celebration of women's writing down on the quayside. Much fun, much wine, many friends again. And this is Sunday morning and I'm being taken off shortly for lunch and demolition-work; have sledgehammer, will travel.

And these are my excuses for falling behind with my weblog (sorry, Chrissie...), and they are many and varied and true. But, of course, inadequate, as excuses are by definition. I've been sleeping dreadfully anyway, bed at two and awake by six; think how much more I could do if I just converted that into 'bed at two and up by six'. I might as well, I just get all restless and disturb the cats if I stay in bed. Sigh...

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© Chaz Brenchley 2003
Reproduced here by permission of Chaz Brenchley, who asserts his moral right to be identified as the author of this work.