Welcome to the Distress Signals Blogging Bonanza! What’s that, you’re wondering? Well, you can either go and read this post or read the next sentence. In a nutshell: Distress Signals was out in paperback in the UK and Ireland on January 5 and hits the U.S.A. on February 2, and every day in between I’m going to blog as per the schedule at the bottom of this post.
I think it was probably sometime in 2007 that I saw Elizabeth Gilbert on Oprah. Eat, Pray, Love mania was about to hit and I already had dutifully purchased my copy of it from my beloved Barnes and Noble in Dr Philips, because The Great O had said so. I remember very little of the actual Eat, Pray, Love episode except for this: Gilbert going up to a lovely little wooden desk on the mezzanine level of her lovely house, carrying a cup of tea, to open up the neat little box of index cards on which she’d written her notes, turn to her computer and get to work turning them into her next book.
The tea was herbal but leaving that aside, I was as much in awe as I was jealous.
Many years later, The Book Show on Sky Arts interviewed Cecilia Ahern and filmed her at work in her office near her home in Co. Dublin. She looked gorgeous and had that healthy, glossy inner glow she always seems to have. Her office was gloriously neat. Her desk had only her computer, a candle and a coffee on it. Actually, the coffee might have been from earlier, so maybe it was only the computer and the candle. The only other thing in there was a shelf with all her published books.
The coffee was decaf but leaving that aside, I was as much in awe as I was jealous.
Scrolling through Twitter a while back, I came across a picture of uber-selling author Jeffrey Archer sitting at his writing desk. It took me a while to actually see the desk because the shot was taken at his house in Spain (I think?) and the desk was in front of a floor-to-ceiling wrap around window that offered panoramic views of the sea. It was magnificent.
I would never get any work done there but still, I was much in— Well, you know the rest.
I too am guilty of this ‘Oooh, neat, pretty desk’ thing. I’ve posted pictures of mine on here. Everything in it was colour co-ordinated, organised and clean. Aside from my computer, the only things on my desk were a cup of coffee, my blue chair and a picture of me as an eight-year-old, tapping away on the typewriter Santa had just brought me.
And it does really look like that a lot of time.
It does not, however, look like that when I’m writing.
I’m at the end of this draft now and when I’m at this point, I do nothing but write and eat and sleep, and I only eat things that don’t need much preparation or clean-up, and I only sleep enough to function at a level a shade more human than zombie. And you know what I’m most looking forward to when I’m done? It’s not sending the manuscript off to my editor and agent. It’s not the sense of accomplishment that will bring. It’s not the guilt-free Netflix binge-watching I intend to spend my weekend on.
It’s cleaning up my desk, because right now it’s like a little episode of Hoarders in the middle of my home. This is an actual shot I took last night, compared to the nice one I posted on here last year (in a previous desk accessories arrangement incarnation):
On the left, ‘nice’ desk. On the right, actual desk during writing time. Note the crumpled up Post-Its and the paper thrown on the ground. The blankets I wrap myself up in, one of which does not match the other. (I know.) The two cups of coffee. The discarded Milkybar wrapper. The carpet that seriously needs hoovering. The fact that all pretty things have been removed to another location to make room for my calendar-page-plotting map.
Not pictured: the Gollum-like creature who sits there for hours on end. She’s SO close to being done though. And after she cleans it, she’s going to reorganise her desk. She got some pretty things for Christmas to go on it so she needs to move stuff around to make them fit. She’s looking forward to making it all pretty again, just in time for Book 3.
Stand by for Instagram pictures.
Remember: there’s a super sexy hardcover edition of Distress Signals (the American one, out February 2) up for grabs, signed to you from me. To enter, simply leave a comment on this post or any post published here between January 5 and February 2. One entry per post, so comment on more than one and increase your chances. Open globally. Good luck!