The writing

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.

4 thoughts on “The writing

  1. Hi Gillian, I’m so sorry to hear about your poor pup! She looks so healthy in all of the pictures. I have found that some of the food we feed our pets are usually the culprit. Can I ask what you are feeding her? I am an animal activist and rescuer so I have a little knowledge in this area I would love to help if I can.

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  2. We have had our puppy for nearly 10 years and he has just been diagnosed with cancer. Our hearts are broken. Dogs give unconditional love. Hope she is okay. 💗

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  3. I understand being upset about your dog, we lost a dog a couple of years ago after having her for 18 years, my grown children still miss her, they becomes such a big part of your life, it could just be something in your dogs diet that doesn’t agree with her, she is in the best place to be sorted. My dog shakes if she thinks I am going out and leaving her, but probably because I never go out, unless someone is with me, my friends ex wife and son occasionally have her and she gets lots of walks and loves it, but it’s so odd when she isn’t by my side in my bed. My daughter has 4 dogs which is crazy as are the dogs, one of them has an allergy to poultry makes his skin bad and he nibbles at it until it bleeds.
    I have spent all weekend and most of the last week, just crying over the slightest thing, I struggle with mental health as well as osteoarthritis and other things, lost my sister a year ago last week, just have felt very low, didn’t even want to be here over the weekend, but can’t put my parents through that one, having a cry is a good thing sometimes, just let the emotions out. I have tried just reading crime novels which are what I enjoy but had been sent a book called Meet Me at the Museum, thought ok this sounds alright read something out of my comfort zone. I cried for almost 100 pages and there are only 200 pages in it. The writing hit me so hard, I could see what the female character was saying like it was from my own life in some ways.
    Keep your chin up, hugs to you and your doggy who I am sure will be fine once the vets get her sorted. Then when she is chewing up the mail again you can yell at her. Keep up the book, I love your books so don’t want to have to be kept waiting for longer than a year inbetween.

    Take care, take deep breaths and write, or just chill for an evening, you are allowed a break, especially when things are sent to try us.

    Jackie

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