York - the view over the River Ouse from outside my hotel

Time off for good behaviour, and edits

York - the view over the River Ouse from outside my hotel

York - the view over the River Ouse from outside my hotel

One of the biggest changes from being an aspiring author to becoming a contracted one is deadlines. Lots of them.

With two books coming out within two months of each other this summer, it was inevitable that some of my deadlines were going to run together. And, because that’s the way the world works, naturally they’d also occur when I had a million other things going on. I’m not complaining, because I love the work and, honestly, I work best to a deadline. Still, it means things get busy.

Which happened (again) this week.

Fortunately, it happened to coincide with a long-planned writing weekend in York. The idea, which has taken some explaining to non-writers, was that I’d decamp to the north, in the freezing cold of January, all alone except for my laptop, for some uninterrupted, quality writing and thinking time. The reason I managed to finangle this at all was because my husband ran off to Switzerland last September for a week at some conference (read: lots of nights out in fancy restaurants and hotel bars) and he owed me a few days of childcare.

I’d dreamt of pottering through the cobbles of the Shambles, finding inspiration at the Minster, climbing up to Clifford’s Tower, writing exciting first draft stuff in independent coffee shops and tea rooms. Then the edits for An A to Z of Love came through, and I figured I’d be lucky if I saw the outside of my hotel room at all.

Queen's Hotel, York

My hotel, from across the river

So I highlighted all my problem words, character issues, and scenes where I needed to add a new subplot or change my antagonist’s motivation and resolution, and printed out the multicoloured brick of a manuscript to lug north on the train.

Over the weekend, I edited in my hotel room, in coffee shops, in pubs, in restaurants, in the hotel bar, and anywhere else I sat still for more than a moment. In between, I wandered the streets (and, I’ll admit, the shops) of York and thought about ways to fix what needed fixing in the book. It was bliss.

Time off just to be a writer isn’t really something I’ve ever had before. Even if the husband takes the daughter off for a day at the weekend so I can get some work done, the time is always punctuated with laundry and dishes and thinking about what’s for dinner. Even if I ignore housework and lock the door, thoughts of other things I should be doing intrude and distract. But hundreds of miles away, with nothing to do but focus on the book, I got a phenomenal amount of work done.

Which is just as well, since the line edits for Room for Love were waiting for me when I got home…