Ambience is everything. Or nothing.


One time, I wrote an entire novel to the Batman Begins OST played on a loop.

A while back, I rearranged one of the upstairs rooms and set up a writing table. I talk about it here. However, since then it has gone into a slow decline. Firstly, we keep “tidying” the house by moving things into other rooms so that one of them looks presentable by the standards of other human beings. As a result, the clean and fairly minimal (for me) space ended up as two monitors and a keyboard jostling for space among a mountain of books. Secondly, with Aoife now up to the point of crawling, it has made more sense for me to sit downstairs for the majority of the time, working on the laptop, so that I can easily jump up and grab her when she tries to escape the living room/lick the radiator.

It’s not the best for writing, really, or at least it’s taking me a while to get used to it. Part of the problem is the chair – a cheap IKEA dining chair – that is fine for short term use but after a long session at the keys it really does feel like my arse is sliding inexorably forward off of it. The other part of the problem is my tendency to leap onto any other source of stimulus to avoid having to think up the next sentence. It’s the same reason I don’t – can’t – listen to songs with lyrics in while I write: I end up writing the lyrics out. And while my other half does her best not to interrupt me and watches tv with the sound fairly low, she’s still there and I could totally talk to her right now.

Part of me longs for silence and space, that perfect vacuum to sit in while I stare off into the middle distance and think really hard about what that word was I wanted to use. The rest of me knows that situation is now a joke. I’m better off changing my habits than thinking I can only work when the conditions suit me – if I let myself come to that conclusion, then eventually the conditions will never suit.

Also, I should really think about tidying this place up.