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Where Does All That Time Go?


A questionnaire for Phil Barrington at Writers' Forum.  The subject?  Where do all those precious hours go?  Read on...


What commitments do I have?


We’ve got kids,  plus a grandchild,  round the corner.  Lots of babysitting.  I go offshore rowing twice weekly in a five-man scull,  and am Chairman of the Exmouth Rowing Club.  Loads of exercise and mateship (all good) but more admin faffing than you’d ever imagine.  I contribute to a French conversation class once a week and have just embarked on Spanish.  I do all the cooking (and half the drinking) at home.  I do regular festival engagements in France and we make regular month-long excursions into Europe in our ancient camper.  For longer trips,  in winter,  we use the train and local bus.  Brilliant for destinations like Istanbul,  St Petersburg and (three years ago) Damascus.


How do I juggling all this stuff with my writing life?


Easy(ish).  I tackle one writing project at a time,  wrestle it to the mat,  and raid the rest of my life for light relief.


Any particular method of time management?


Start at half eight.  Breakfast at half eleven.  Finish by 17.59 (drinking starts at 18.00).


How do you cope with interruptions?


Phone calls are fine.  Ditto e-mails.  Surprise personal visits,  less so.


Have you given up anything to help find writing time?


I’ve always kept social media at arm’s length:  no mobile,  no Facebook,  no Twitter.  Do I miss all that stuff?  Silly question.


Do I have a to-do list?


Sort of.  But mainly to keep the fridge full.


Do you have one big writing project?  Or a mix?


I write one book a year,  starting in Ocrtober and ending by the 30thNovember.  Prior research might swallow another couple of weeks.  As well,  I take on the odd commission for novellas.  Just now,  I’ve buddied up with a London production house (Red Arrow Entertainment) and am working on adaptations of my D/I Joe Faraday series for UK TV.  I’ve done lots of script work in the past but this is especially fascinating.  Love it.


Do I have big writing plans?


Like most writers I know,  I love stepping out of the genre box.  This has never been easy,  especially if you have any kind of success in a particular field (like crime fiction) but the e-revolution has opened all kinds of doors,  especially if you have a pre-existing readership.  So…yes,  I have a gleam in the eye which will,  in due course,  become a WW2 stand-alone thriller called Finisterre.  Think big fat airport book.  With tie in Hollywood deal.  Total fantasy?  Stay tuned…


Do I know what I’m going to work on each day?


Yes.  And that helps in ways that really surprise me.  Do I know what I’m going to do when I eyeball the PC?  Again,  yes.  Rule One?  Strictly no faffing.


How would you find more time if something happened by?


By doing it.  Much like this questionnaire.  Neat idea.  Makes me think.  So thanks for the invite.