Wednesday, 26 March 2008

Unexpected callers

One of the problems of sharing a house with someone is unexpected visitors. People I haven't invited, but he has, and hasn't told you. People who just turn up wanting to see him (never me, my friends won't travel the 24 miles from North London to here). Few things are more calculated to spoil the literary flow than having to stop, rush down the stairs, answer the door, find out who it is, then try and find where Mr Grumpy is, which could be anywhere from down the garden to in the bath.

Tonight, Mr G was in the bath. I dashed to the door and stared blankly at the young male stranger explaining that he was Dave's stepson. "Dave?" "Dave and Lynn." "Who are Dave and... oh, never mind, come in and I'll tell him you're here."

A dripping Mr G lurches down the stairs, stridently crying, "You bastard!" The visitor just laughs. I return to my chapter. I was on the very last line, writing a touching and complicated sentence in which a proud cancer victim, who hasn't wanted my heroine to know, accidentally reveals the truth while the heroine is helping her break into her house because she has locked herself out. The health of the elderly neighbour has been a slow tease. Like the sex-life of one of the young village boys, and various other threads that I planted at the start and have been teasing out to keep people wanting to read on.

I hadn't intended the old lady to lock herself out, though. This just happened. And when her wig came off, I had intended her to take it off in the garden thinking nobody was looking, not to have it knocked off while trying to undo the bathroom window catch. It certainly is true that, no matter how well you plot a book, unexpected things happen - just like real life, just like strangers at the door.

Oh, the word count: I haven't done as well today as I had to finish a proof-reading job for somebody. It now stands at 32,383. Tomorrow, I shall start Chapter Nine, unless I decide to go out and knock at somebody's door.

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