Twelve days into lockdown and you’d think these were ideal conditions in which to write a novel. After all, apart from a walk every day, I am going nowhere and I am seeing no-one except my daughter – and of course the cats. No trips to London. No lunches with friends. And yet, the time seems somehow to get filled up. I am cooking a lot more than usual, and I’m also having a very sociable time: emailing, FaceTiming, getting together with my book group on Zoom, and telephoning far, far more than usual. We’ve even managed to play games with my stepson and his wife via FaceTime. They live fifteen minutes drive away, but they might as well be on the moon for all person-to-person contact we are having with them.
But it is more than being busy that makes it hard to get on with the next novel. The turmoil in the outside world makes it difficult to settle to anything. It doesn’t help that I am at the beginning of the planning and plotting stage. It’s hard to get into the roaming, free-range state of mind that’s needed for generating ideas. A number of other writers are having the same problem.
Still, the novel is gradually coming into focus. This time my main character, Katie Flanagan, is going to the Arctic circle on an expedition tracing the route of the doomed Franklin expedition to find the fabled North-West Passage. I won’t be giving anything away when I say that things do not go according to plan . . .
The photograph is of primroses in our garden.