Published on: 07 April 2010 Author: Evie Wyld
The award-winning writer Evie Wyld became our third Writer in Residence back in 2010. In this blog Evie discussed writing, distractions and dogs.
Anyone who's ever tried to write anything knows how easy it can be to get distracted. Phones ring, emails need replying to, and socks arranging in colour and then size order.
Obviously, I'm now far too professional for this to be an issue when I write, but I thought I'd take you through some hypothetical situations in case they're useful.
So what if, for example, you're trying to write your second novel, while looking after your parents' dogs?
It's important that you get enough rest so that you don't feel downtrodden when writing, but if you decide to go to bed early to read a book, the dogs may feel like their allotted amount of tv time has been clipped. Perhaps they are supposed to sleep downstairs in the kitchen, but maybe the smooth haired one makes noises like when the smoke alarm's batteries are low. High pitched yips that are so small and sharp you're not quite sure if you heard them, but they go every thirty seconds.
You can angrily go into the kitchen and demand they return to their beds, and they will scuttle away, shaking and squealing like you've come at them with a hammer, and then you'll go back to bed feeling really bad, until it starts again. If you then give up and let them into your room, so you don't have to worry about getting up every hour, they will want to French kiss you in thanks. The hairy one will, before you can get back in to bed, lay in your spot, with her head on the pillow and her scratchy clawy legs straight out in front of her. When you lie down, to stop face licks, you will rub her belly for a few moments before dozing off again.
When you do finally doze off, she will hit you in the face. This will carry on until you can fake death and then she will go and lay at the bottom of the bed, on top of the duvet, cutting off the blood to your feet. The smooth one will not sleep on top of the duvet. She will not sleep anywhere but in between you and your boyfriend. It does not matter how tightly you cling together, she will put her cold nose between you and dig her way like a mole into the warmest spot in the bed. If this means you both have to cling to the sides of the bed, so be it. After about twenty minutes of this, she will get too hot, and she will start to pant like something is really wrong, and here you will have two choices.
You can throw the blanket off yourself and the dog until she cools down and you are freezing cold, or you can grab hold of her, with your arms weak from sleep, and try and turn her around so that her snout points to the open air. If you chose this option, she will lay on her side with her back to your boyfriend and then she will thrust her legs out at you, jabbing, usually in the spleen and gullet.
Intermittently throughout the night there will be fox noises outside, which will make both dogs stand up and squeal and then run on the spot like in Scooby Doo, before breaking out of the door and running barking out in to the garden. If they find there is something to bark at when they get out there, they might well stay a while and shrill until you lean out of the window and swear loudly at them, trying to disguise your voice so that the neighbours don't know it's you. Again.
When they return, invigorated, to your bed, they will have a crust of mud over their legs and bellies, some bits will be wet, some will be dry but all ends up on the sheets. Some mornings you will wake up and your face will have mud on it, and you will wonder how that happened.
If you have an appointment to make the following morning, you will wake at 7 to take the dogs for their walk. More often than not, you were awake anyway, because the hairy one has been standing over you since day break and you've been trying to fall back to sleep with your arms locked straight out in front of you, holding her back so that she can't lick your nose. Sometimes she wakes you by licking your nose.
Because you are in a hurry and have allotted only ¾ of an hour to their morning walk one of three things will happen. If you are very unlucky, the smooth one will see a fox when you are not looking, and will run after it, and become lost. You will run tearfully around until midday, looking for her, asking strangers have they seen a dog in a green coat, until eventually an elderly lady calls you for half a mile away from the park, saying she has your dog.
The second, thing that will happen is one or both dogs will find an unpleasant bone out on the playing field at Peckham Rye and so that you don't take it off them, they will lay with it right at the edge of the park, next to the road, the threat being 'if you come close, I run from you into the road'. The third thing that will happen is one or both dogs will find the worst faeces imaginable and they will roll in it, so that it gets into their ears and under their chins. Then you have to get them back home with all the windows open, and you have to wash them in the bath, before washing yourself in the bath and changing your clothes because there is no way they will not also have faeces on by this point. I'm sorry, but that's just how it is.
When you return home from your appointment, you may find that the dogs have somehow got hold of and eaten a whole head of raw broccoli, and also the bowl of cashews you forgot to take off the kitchen table. Sometimes they may have found their way into a handbag and eaten laxatives or anti-depressants or Strepsils, sometimes they may have eaten the edge off a twenty pound note. So now they are not feeling very well.
In between all this you might try and write something, say a bit of your second novel. If you sit at the computer they will both stand on your lap, because this enables them to have a clearer view out the window into the garden. If you sit on the sofa, they will see it as near enough time to go to bed, which means licks in the face and hits in the ribs. You will usually find the best place to sit is the kitchen table, and if you have a laptop with you, this will work fairly well, though it is important that both dogs understand there is no food on the table. Even an apple or black coffee is something you have and they do not, so you will be sat on.
Throughout all of this it is important to keep writing. If, for example, you're trying to write your second novel, while looking after your parents' dogs.