It’s been a busy few months. Book five edits from my agents, from my editors, structural edits, line edits. American copyedits and page proofs on book two. A pocket of days or weeks between each. I seize on these pockets and try to devote myself to book six. This is the only way, in my opinion, to write a book a year. Build a first draft in little blocks. Five thousand words in one week. A thousand words between edits on one book and proofs on another. They all add up, like assembling an army, very slowly and (as with all early drafts) very badly.
And then: finally. Book five has gone to copy edit. It’s the week before Christmas, but it’s still a whole week. I will write ten thousand words, bring the draft up to almost fifty thousand. It’s okay. There’s time. There’s still time.
We got a puppy in September and she is often unwell. Bowel problems and a weird allergic reaction where her snout swelled up and her eyes went red. More bowel problems. Today, she refuses breakfast. I eye my book from across the kitchen, then look back at her. I am not used to this life of having a dependent. I’ve taken it all on, the early rising, the endless vet trips, playing fetch when I want to be writing chapter twenty, but it makes me sad sometimes. I feel guilty about writing or guilty about her.
Later, she starts shivering. We go to the vet’s. We go to the vet’s twice in one day. They admit her for tests, finally. She’s there now. ‘Go home and get some work done,’ the vet says very nicely. I buy a take-out focaccia because it’s 4.15pm and I haven’t had any lunch. I sit at my desk and think about my dog’s sad little face as she was led away from me, about the way her back legs were shaking when they never normally do. I can’t write my novel. It’s strange here without her. The house is so silent. A letter drops onto the doormat and nobody goes to try and eat it.
I eat the focaccia and cry. I hardly ever cry these days. Life is so mellow in the country with my dog writing the books I hope to be good. But today I cry. And, as the tears track down the side of my nose, I think about the writing. I think about the next scene where somebody feels pain and how it feels to me, the yawning feeling in my stomach, the heat of the tears against my face, the pattern they make against the table. The writing, the writing, the writing.