How to find time to write a novel

At last! All Desires Known is out! Now, for those of you who know me well, you'll know that at heart I AM a novelist.

At heart I spend my days closeted in a perfectly appointed room of my own, quiet reigning, dust motes dancing in shafts of sunlight, my mind alive with stories pouring in perfectly violet prose onto the page, three thousand words a day, followed by a bout of serious gardening for the good of my figure, my health, my heart, my brain....and to make room for more words to start bouncing about in my head. 

But of course this is a dream.

One must earn a living, and while flower farming and artisan floristry are a pretty precarious way to earn a crust (but I haven't worked for anyone else for twenty years and don't know how to go about getting a proper job,) working with a garden full of flowers does have it's recompenses, even if they're not necessarily hugely financial! 

Still, thanks to that wonderful tool the Internet, it IS possible for anyone to publish a novel. The only difficulty is finding the time to write it first. And here must some sacrifice be made. For those of you who follow our Twitter, Facebook and/or Instagram feeds, you may be under the illusion that my life is one framed entirely by elegantly distressed paintwork, stone corners, vintage vases, a constant cornucopia of flowers. Well, let me disabuse you. Look at those pictures and you will see that you very rarely get a picture of anything other than the same single tidy corner. And you practically never see pictures of the inside of my house. Why? Well because it's not just untidy, it's A DISASTER zone!

I live with a husband whose congenital defect is that if he sees a clear surface he'll put a wet coat on it. I live with two children who like to kick off mud caked footwear in such a way that not a single door to the house will open cleanly without jamming on a welly boot. And so you see where to make the time. While I might not be paid much to farm flowers or write novels, I will never be paid at all to clean my house or launder my family's clothes. My husband despairs at my ruthless lack of interest in what we eat, or, in fact, going to buy any ingredients which might be transformed into breakfast, lunch or supper. I love my family, but my children need expensive shoes and my mind is always full of words fighting to get out. 

And so I make a choice to enjoy the activity which might pay me even just a little money. Apart from rare bouts of polishing the cooker hood (it gets sticky looking - I don't mind dust as much as I don't like sticky looking,) and on Sundays laundering the school uniform, I absolve myself from household duties. Fabrizio does nearly all of the food shopping and cooking (he LOVES cooking!) Add to this mix that I am naturally an early riser (and am usually in bed by 9.30pm,) and there it is. That's how to find time to write a novel: live in squalor, allow other people to take the necessary strain of feeding the family, and get up early... for then, in those quiet hours, before the noise of husband, children, the Today programme shatter the peace, there is head space for those fighting words to be encouraged to form themselves into an orderly queue, to be lined up thoughtfully on the page. 

My latest novel, All Desires Known is dedicated to two gorgeous ladies, Shelley Bovey (who used to babysit me when I was a child, and near whom I now live in Somerset,) and Janet Laurence, both of whom, with me, make up a group my children call the writing ladies. I am required to submit three thousand words for their critique at our once monthly meetings. And that's how strong All Desires Known was written. Also Janet gave me the best piece of writing advice I've ever had. 'Write five hundred words a day,' she said. 'That's all. You can always find time to write five hundred words.' And she's right. Five hundred words takes an hour, maybe two. And if you write every day then you quite quickly produce a workable manuscript. And then you have something to polish. And all of a sudden you have a novel. 

So that's how you find the time to write a novel, no matter how busy you might be: Dusting be damned and five hundred words a day. I hope you enjoy strong All Desires Known It's available as a download and as a paperback. I'd love to know what you think. The end.