Saturday, 21 January 2012

Where I write

I have a desk in one of the bedrooms of the villa I rent in Spain, it is covered in research notes, books and, shamefully, dust. Next to the desk is a bookcase crammed with books, travel journals, brochures from galleries and various paraphernalia I've picked up on my travels. The printer sits proudly on top of the bookshelf but it is rarely called into action. It can scan and copy as well but rarely does either of those things. The bookcase has spewed some of its contents onto the floor - there just isn't enough storage.


Good thing I took this picture - I've rediscovered the dogs' brush!
 Lack of space is just an excuse really; the truth is I am seriously disorganised. Every once in a while I will become overwhelmed with the mess and clear up; but not often. The resultant disorder means there is little space for me to put my laptop on the desk, or squeeze current writing book and research notes onto the desk, so I rarely write in this room anymore. When I first moved here, with the sole intention of writing my book  City Chronicles: A Tale of Nine Cities,   I wrote in that room everyday but with the advent of spring I slowly moved outside. The weather in Andalus├Ča is too good to waste sat in a bedroom. As I write longhand, with an inkpen in an A4 notebook, I can do this wherever I like. I can be found on the steps of my verendah scribbling away, or at the dining table or on cold nights on the sofa in front of the fire. I can, and do, write anywhere.


The dining table gets the morning sun - a good place to start the day.
 I carry a notebook and many pens everywhere I go. As a travel-writer each visit I make to a city, gallery, place of interest is note-worthy. Even if I return to a place frequently each visit is different. I see different things, the weather, smells, sounds are different and I usually eat in a different place each time. I can build a picture of the place.

For travelling purposes any pen will do. The first draft of a book has to be written with my Parker inkpen. Stationery is ridiculously expensive over here. The Chinese bazaars do a roaring trade with their cheap notebooks and disposable biros with me but the cost of ink is prohibitive. I brought cartridges back from England in August and a trip to Spoleto, Italy saw me re-stock after finding a quaint, old-fashioned toy and stationery shop where the prince of ink was not greater than that of oil, gold and saffron combined.

For Christmas I received a rather fancy notebook which has sections for hotels, sights, cities etc, with each page having handy headings. I have used it twice already - Seville and Antequera. It is all rather organised for me, but it did prompt me to put things down that I often forget - the cost of coffee and entrance fees being two of the main culprits. I like the spiralbound notebooks with plastic and cardboard pockets from Paperchase. they are very useful for keeping pamphlets, tickets and other bits and bobs in one place and relevant to the writing. Just looking at a ticket can bring back memories of a trip.

Ernest Hemingway said that you should only write about a place once you've left it, to give you perspective (I paraphrase). He's right, but keeping rough notes and memorabilia are essential for someone with a disorganised cerebrum. And so I continue to write, in any place I can find space, about the places I have been, surrounded by my aide memoirs.

The palace at Caserta, one of the places in my next book
City Chronicles: A Little Bit of Italy

Sunday, 1 January 2012

Bring my Book to the Screen...Please!

I have finally got round to reading the November issue of my writing magazine within which was an article about getting your book onto the big screen. The long and the short of it was that you need an agent, always take a healthy option fee, but don't expect ever to see it made into a film, TV programme or stage production. Hmmm. That should be enough to make me discard that little dream, especially with a self-published non-fiction work to boot - but it isn't. I think my book would be brilliant as a film. There is action, hilarity, pathos and any other term you may care to use a-plenty (except bathos, I hope there is no bathos). The pages are full of history, architecture, travel and sex that could easily be translated into wonderful cinematography. I'm not even bothered if I'm portrayed as a desperate, hard-drinking, heavy-smoking slapper (well maybe a little) if it gets notice for the book. Of course, what I would like is a portrayal that is close to who we really are, or were as we have grown up a little since then.

So who would play me? It can't be some wafer-thin, stupidly attractive actress because that is just not me. Preferably a UK size 16, average-looking, tall bod would be the order of the day. Does such a creature exist in the acting world? Maybe they could get Kate Winslet to pile back on a few pounds, and some; she comes from the same part of Berkshire as me so no need for her to learn a new accent. Kate is a bit on the short side but then a lot of actors are, so she can look tall compared to the others in the cast. That's that problem surmounted.

And who will write the screenplay? Who will direct? Who will play my friend and travelling companion Sara? What will I wear on the red carpet? How will I fit all those interviews into my working day and still find time to write?

I'm getting ahead of myself. But one can only dream and, according to the article, that is probably as far as it will get particularly if all I do is sit and dream. So to work. First, I need to let the production world know there is an option on my work. Second, I need to get an agent to promote such, get me a good option fee and do all the hardwork. Third, I need to promote my book some more, finish my second and third books and do some more travelling in order to write yet more. Easy. See you at Cannes in 2014!

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