I wake early to the sound of birds singing outside my window, but I don’t rise straight away: I lie very still and try to recall the details of the many dreams that linger at the periphery of my consciousness. I recall a beach, and two lovers reaching for each other over some obstacle. I grab my notebook and pen, always ready beside the bed, and scribble down a few phrases that are flying about my mind.
Once I am dressed and breakfasted, I take a cup of fruit tea into my office and sit at the desk, sipping and daydreaming as I gaze out at the view. In France, I’d be looking at the sparkling Mediterranean; today, though, I am at my Kent home, and I look out over a sprawling lawn fringed by ancient trees. I spot a rabbit and watch it hippety-hop about. Then, tea finished, I open my laptop.
I allow myself an hour of administration and marketing work only: I set the timer on my phone to ensure I don’t go over time. I check emails, and reply to a couple of readers. I schedule a post for my blog, and catch up with the latest on Facebook and Twitter. I finish checking the blurb for my new novel and send it over to my publisher. I just have time to read a new review of one of my books posted to Amazon when – beep. Time is up.
I am lost in another place, another time. I hear my characters; I see them in my mind’s eye. They are so vivid and real, and their emotions are mine: they move me immensely. Today I am writing a difficult scene: the lovers are rowing. They love each other, they want each other, but both are too stubborn to admit those facts. A misunderstanding coupled with blind pride has brought them to a place where they lash out, rather than reach out.
Reach out – that is it. Recalling my dream of the night before, I open my notebook and re-read the notes I penned in bed. I like two of the phrases; they fit. I work them into the scene.
At lunchtime I have to be called to the table, and it’s disorientating at first to be wrenched from the story world. But the break does me good: re-energises me and gives me some perspective. I make to return to my desk after the meal, but the sun is shining so brightly and the sky is an impossible blue: I’ll write al fresco for a little while, I decide. I choose one of my favourite spots – on the patio by the summer house, where the first flowers of spring scent the air with a heady aroma – and I write until the pace of my typing begins to slow.
I take a walk through the woods and across a field, letting go of the book and just allowing my mind to wander freely. Again, I have need of that notebook as new ideas assail me: to be a writer is to be always writing, in essence.
For the evening I work hard to be present with my family, and I enjoy their company as we share a meal and then sit up late, talking by the fire. But as I slip into bed, there is always a little, secretive smile on my face, because I know that in my dreams I will be with my characters again, and I know that come the morning I will be fortunate enough to be a writer for another wonderful day.
Indiscretion by Hannah Fielding is out now.