Denim Sue's Wiltshire Diary
Denim Sue's Wiltshire Diary
1. 'On Writing'

HAVE found by experience that before you write anything it is best to have some sort of idea. I'm not exactly sure how often I get ideas as they invariably only come when I am busy doing something else. I usually scribble something down on a piece of paper, tea towel, feed sack or whatever happens to be handy. Needless to say these items are invariably washed, lost—or washed and lost—and the idea has gone forever like a fart in a gale. However, every once in a while I manage to hang on to one and get it on to the computer. It is now perfectly safe until the computer crashes.

The idea lurks on the hard drive for a week or two, after which most likely it has become either terminally dated, or has mysteriously misbehaved and transformed itself from a cracking idea to a chronically bad one.

Having performed all the chores that cannot possibly be put off any longer and cleared the kitchen which looked as if a bomb had hit it— a secret weapon called my brother who 'popped in' for the sole intention of stealing food and giving me something to do—I finally sit down at the computer. Stare at idea on screen for ten minutes, wondering whether brother removes shoes on visits purely to impart a lingering smell of stale socks, when great caterwauling denotes that another World War has broken out in playroom. Where the Hell is Caithleen? One of the screeching sods, the perpetual troublemaker as it happens, is hers after all. Send them out to look for her—suggesting they look in the potting shed first as I would like them to find my sister with her bloke, Derek, in flagrante delicto.

Return to the computer, but am not really in the mood. Manage to write one desultory sentence before a great hullabaloo emanates from the kitchen. Rush to see what fuss is about nearly falling down the kitchen stairs, to be greeted by Suzie, my six year old, declaring between giggles, "Derek's hurt his willy." I usher the children back up to the playroom, desperately trying and failing to suppress my mirth, suggesting to them that we leave things to Caithleen. Am then subjected to several awkward questions and am disappointed to learn that Derek was only having a pee on the compost heap when he had an altercation with his zip.

After dinner I collect the wine leftovers in a tumbler and sneak off upstairs with two half full bottles of wine. Peace at last, children and baby asleep, others clearing up the kitchen; now is the time to really get down to finishing off that article. Take huge slurp of strange wine cocktail. Not mellow enough, needs more red. Start typing furiously at first thing that comes into my head. Baby wakes. Changing his nappy I remember I must do some washing tomorrow. Feed baby from breast that I feel must contain more alcohol than milk. Baby keeps dozing off. Wonder if I should have given him vegetable slurry stuff I made. Put baby in cot and take soiled nappy down to laundry room. I say laundry room—it's a junk room with the washing machine in it. A washing machine that is forever trying to escape as soon as you switch it on. I don't blame it.

Back in my office I stare in disbelief at what I have written. There are so many typos I have difficulty in understanding it. Another huge slurp. Add some white for inspiration. What am I writing about? Oh yes. Another flurry of typing. Another swift draft and more typing. Wine finished. Screen flitting about like the moth at the light. I am missing more keys than I hit. Decide to call it a day. There's quite a lot there, I'll sort it out tomorrow.

I don't manage to get back to it for three days. What is was all about remains a mystery. I seem to have written a whole article without a verb. However, I manage to salvage five bits which I convert into sentences including one funny bit. Put this into understandable English. Well—it's a start. Over the next few days go through the same processes again until it gradually grows enough to be considered an article. I am heartily sick of the thing by now and have no idea whether it is any good. I leave it for another few days to come back and edit it. When I do, it doesn't seem to have matured with aging at all. Having finally completed the task, I never want to see it again. I don't dare show it to any of the household, for fear of ridicule, but read it to baby in his swing cradle. Baby starts screaming before the end of the first paragraph. Decide to get rid of it by sending it to an absolutely awful web site I write for and see what they make of it. (so that's what you think of us, is it? Editor). Vow never to write anything ever again.

Find 'idea' scrawled on back of old envelope that I was about to throw away. It doesn't sound bad, I'll just type it on the computer...

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