In Season; Making Time; Moby Dick

I love this time of year. The dismal sludge of late-winter is a thing of the past, the April showers have come and gone, and everything takes on a homely, honey-glazed look as the sun warms up for its grand summer gig. It’s gentle, but not lethargic; bright, but not blinding. To borrow that ubiquitous Miss Congeniality quote, “It’s not too hot, not too cold. All you need is a light jacket.”

It’s also the start of my Writing Season. I know writing isn’t traditionally a seasonal job, but we writers can be a bit temperamental when it comes to our routines. In the winter I barely write anything more than short stories, but instead focus on editing existing work or planning new projects – laying the groundwork so that when Easter comes I can knuckle down on whatever project I have in progress and work solidly through to September.

We’re five weeks on from Easter now, and I couldn’t be happier with how my work’s been going. I guess it’s just the result of writing very little for several months, that when you finally sit down at your desk to get the words on the page you find your creative juices oozing out like the contents of an overripe bin-bag. Almost every day now for the last month has been spent in a coffee-induced mania, surrounded by the notes and revisions made last winter, frantically pelting the keyboard like a verbal hailstorm. I love it.

After slipping behind with my work on The Stone King last year when my mental health issues rather got in the way, I’ve found myself more determined than ever to put this novel to sleep. This is the year, I can feel it. All I have to do is finish this long-overdue second draft, put it through another round of revisions, then sell it for enough money to buy myself a yacht. Simple.

No one will be allowed on board unless they talk like a pirate.
No one will be allowed on board unless they talk like a pirate.

I’m also really proud of the amount of work I’ve managed to do on The Stone King considering how little free time I’ve had in the last few weeks. As much as I love covering motorsport on the side, it doesn’t half get manic at times – especially when this weekend’s Russian Grand Prix comes straight on the back of last week’s Paris ePrix and the Chinese Grand Prix before that.

But when it comes to a project like writing a novel, it’s not so much a matter of finding the time as it is making the time. There’s a reason writers have such a reputation for being reclusive insomniacs – it’s because they have to be. Days off and Sunday morning lie-ins stop existing once you realise they could be better spent sacrificed to the God of Coffee and Words. People might call me crazy for waking up at 5am just to write, but they won’t find it so funny when they miss out on an invite to my yacht-warming party…

Somehow in amongst all this I’ve still managed to find time to read, and a few weeks back I made a start on Moby Dick. I’ve been reading a lot of classics lately, building up my immune system before taking on James Joyce’s Ulysses with the Twitter book club in June – #Ulytweets, if you want to join us – and figured, what better than a classic rip-roaring American yarn?

Turns out Moby Dick is less “high seas adventure” and more “brutally realist account of the nineteenth-century whaling industry”. But when Herman Melville isn’t going off on one about the best way to categorise whale breeds, he’s an incredibly elegant writer, and it’s worth persevering with the dense bits to read him at his best.


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