the write conditions

Mostly I write in the morning, when I have (or carve out) a couple of hours, before I get distracted by all the other calls on my time. But I’m not a 5 a.m. scribbler, straight from bed. I need to be dressed and breakfasted first. Then I sit at my desk with several sheets of scrap paper in front of me and my Cross fountain pen filled with black ink. I drink black coffee. Several mugs. No music. The non-silence of London. If it’s very sunny I’ll lower the blind. I like that – the window open, sounds coming in from outside, the room shaded. Helps me focus. When I start I write in lower case. It’s not a streaming forth, an outpouring. I’ll jot down words, phrases, images that gnaw at me. Sometimes they start to cohere and I realise something is emerging; other times nothing gels, or a few lines lead nowhere. Certain phrases or images recur, even over many years, until they finally furnish the spark for a poem or story. Time and discipline are the essential ingredients. And words, of course, zinging around in my head, demanding that I shape them into a new literary artefact.

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