I've got a study of my own.
I can work in my dining room, which is lovely – there's a door to a balcony, which leads down to my garden.
I can work in my living room, curled up on the sofa (in front of a fire in winter), and I can work in my kitchen, which is homely and cosy, and in winter the Aga keeps me warm.
So why do I write SO much better when I come away on a retreat?
I've been asking myself this question for the past couple of days. I'm here, in a gorgeous cottage, with two writing friends and our host, and although it would be easy enough to sit around and pass the day in idle chitchat, none of us do – we all do what we came here to do, which is TO WRITE!
I've been here before. I like (if at all possible) to get to the stage in my work where I'm at least three quarters through the book, with around 25,000 words to go, and where I know more or less what needs to be done. That's what's happened this time. I've spent all year struggling with this novel. The title has changed I don't know how many times. The main characters have changed. The hero has changed and the heroine has changed character. I've changed the plot. I've changed the sex of one of the support characters. In short, I've struggled. But I worked very hard in the past few weeks, in the knowledge that I was coming here, to get myself to the point where I felt I'd be able to 'knock out words' – and my goodness, that's what I've been doing. In fact, I've written 14,700 since I got here, two and a half days ago.
I know I'm finally at the point where I've got it firmly fixed in my head who is who and what it's all about, but is that the only reason I'm able to settle down and just get on with it here?
The truth is, there are a million distractions at home. There's housework to do and bills to pay, holiday arrangements to make and shopping, cooking and washing to do. There's a stream of appointments – dentists, doctors, hairdressers, physios, chiropodists. All the guff that makes up life, in fact. Here, there's none of that. I have winkled out a few precious days where it's the writing that takes priority and the distractions are few. And, most important of all, I have space and time to immerse myself completely in my story. I can live inside it, give it space to flow from my fingertips.
It's very precious time, and all of us here give grateful thanks to the special lady who has made it all possible.