Getting Out More By Jan Needle

Eliza P - the funniest song writer  in Britain. Con Club, Uppermill

Took me an awful long time to realise writing was a game purely for obsessives. Looking back on it now, a life of many children, many jobs, many disasters and a fair few triumphs (in my terms, anyway), I can see that most of my brain activity went into scrawling on bits of paper. It’s got to stop.

Looking back over the wreckage, what do I see? About forty books published, a dozen plays performed, TV series written and produced, ten million words of other people’s journalism subbed and headlined – even a few songs, for God’s sake.
Tony Downes and the Hometowners

Pat's amazing tea chest bass
And where am I now? Outside, for the first time in ages, the sun is shining, the air is warm. My canal boat is forty miles away, waiting to be moved. Grandchildren, about to go back to school, would dearly love a bit of play. And I’m inside at my computer, knocking this stuff out.

Because I’m committed to, and because I’m off to France in a few days and it’s got to be written and stored in the ether. And this morning I spent a couple of hours or so on Facebook and on Twitter, and reading other people’s blogs and wondering if I could find myself a platform somewhere, maybe, to shift a book or two.

And when I finish this, it’s back to the new book that is much longer than I expected (so will probably need more hours cutting it), and which I just know I’ve got to kick into submission before I go abroad.

Why? What difference will ten days make? God knows. I just know, okay? If I don’t do it, if I don’t stay glued to my terminal (good ironic word, eh? One day I’ll log on for one last burst instead of going for a pint, and go out like a light. But not before I’ve finished one last chapter…even terminal is relative when you're an obsessive.)

Halfway through Cally Phillips’s extraordinary marathon of inventing and then running the Edinburgh ebook festival a couple of weeks ago, her husband appended a note to her blog. He used to be married to her, he seemed to recall. He might even remember what she looked like, if prompted. George, you don’t know you’re born. I can’t even remember what I look like sometimes…

Bob and Maura. Sunday night special
Black Jake at the X Keys
How do we stop it? How do we get a life? How do we stop depriving our partners and children and friends and boats of something they foolishly seem to think they need? Living in the NW of England is one answer. Within a fifteen mile radius of  Manchester there a many, many fine bitters brewed, and uncountable fine musicians in the pubs. A legacy of the Victorian building of our infrastructure by the Irish, thank God for them. There are also the hills and moors to walk, and the canals to float on, and the railway lines to lay one’s head on if the only final way to pacify your mind is the good ole two nineteen. It’s an American song, but I bet the Irish built that line as well.

Last week was a particularly heavy one, work wise. But I went to the Beech in Chorlton on Monday, the Rising Sun, Mossley, on Tuesday, the Cross Keys, Uppermill, on Wednesday, the top house in Dobcross on Thursday, the Con Club, Uppermill on Saturday. Oh, and the Cross Keys again on Sunday. On Thursday someone had to go to hospital, which spoiled that evening. Inconsiderate.

Bluegrass at the Rising Sun. Pat's foot featured
The weirdest thing of all is that for all my writing, as sketched in above, I never ended up stinking rich. Stinking, maybe. But not stinking rich. Good times, bad times, times that made financial deserts look like an attractive alternative. I did it because I am a writer. A son said to me on Sunday – why don’t you stop. Enjoy yourself. Go sailing all the time.

Sunshine, I wish I knew how.


madwippitt said…
Didn't another prolific writer, called Terry Pratchett, used to say that he wished people would stop telling him to get a life because it felt like he was already trying to lead three ...
CallyPhillips said…
Like it Jan! I have to say a year ago I might have wanted to 'retire' from writing but having a great and supportive husband I have been given the licence to remind myself how much I love writing (and reading) and there's no stopping me. BUT I can report that since the ebook festival I have been spending more time with my family! So much so that I didn't switch on the computer from midday friday till right now eight thirty saturday night. And you are the only blog I'm looking at.
Well it's our 4th anniversary of moving to our forever home (with no distractions from writing - no pubs even!) - But I'd be lying if I didn't say that I'm looking forward to some reading tomorrow AND getting back to some writing/editing on Monday.

Blogs/Facebook/Twitter I could see far enough off but they are the evils of the modern indie world. Still, soon the gales will be with us and the internet connection will start to fail and... winter approaches. Snowed in. Nothing to do but write and read and play in the snow. Can't wait. But my crime of neglecting husband and dogs is now fully rectified I'm happy to say! He's just going to have to spend MUCH more time fishing when he retires if he's not to be neglected on a regular basis though. As for the dogs -they are well trained at lying under my desk. Writers dogs.
julia jones said…
Very much like the Terry Pratchett quote. Best magical invention in the Harry Potter series was Hermione's time turner in bk 3 so that she could study twice the normal number of subjects for her OWLs (Ordinary Wizarding Levels). I could do with one of them (or better still two) - but at the end of the story she gave it back - why?

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