A few of you know that I’ve moved recently. I really hoped that this wouldn’t affect my writing routine and flow but it did. Having spent ten days in Coulsdon, packing up the house there, I was completely shattered, mentally and physically. Initially I was going to pay for the removal company to do the packing but when the boss man came round and saw all my books and teaching folders, the estimate shot up by several hundred pounds. So I decided to do it myself. It also seemed like a good opportunity to have a good clear out. Anyone who has done this knows how exhausting and time-consuming it is. Some of it was easy: I took three quarters of my clothes, shoes, boots and bags to the charity shop in those enormous IKEA bags. There were loads of clothes I hadn’t worn for years. Some impulse buys still had labels on and hadn’t even been worn (gulp!). The biggest problem was my books. After two undergraduate degrees and an MA, and now being half way through another MA, plus having been a teacher for ten years, I have mountains of text books. Then there’s the fiction and the books on writing. I tried to have a cull but in the end decided to keep all my Psychology books. The charity shop was thrilled. My shoulders and back much less so. I’ve learnt two things from doing all this: 1) it takes quadruple the time you expect it to take, partly because you get progressively more knackered and slow down, and 2) I will never do it again on my own. I did have various friends come and help me but you can only expect people to do so much. Consequently, the bulk of it I did myself.
Moving day was very stressful. The day before – yes, the day before – the council had started digging up the pavement on the opposite side of the road to my house. As it’s a small arterial road, and very busy all day, with no parking outside, I was extremely worried whether the lorries would be okay parked out front for loading. I had terrible insomnia for the whole of those two weeks as I just felt completely overwhelmed with the task at hand so I was getting up in the night and doing more packing, of course, making myself more exhausted, but somehow unable to stop myself from doing it. On moving day, when we arrived in Whitstable, the people hadn’t left the new house. They were still packing and were transporting their stuff via small DIY van loads. We had to wait nearly three hours before we could start unloading. Removal companies charge extra if they cannot unload straightaway so this cost me an extra £100 and created an unpleasant atmosphere for moving in. And then there was the unpacking. Which just goes on and on, doesn’t it? Although I’ve moved to a larger house and have inherited a shed, I don’t have any book shelves so I still have loads of bags of books upstairs, teaching folders and related paraphernalia, waiting to be housed. I’ve had two weeks plus of more heavy work: lifting, carrying, digging, cleaning and DIY. Lots of people said ‘Oh, relax, you’re there now, just take your time’ but I don’ find it easy to relax when I’m sitting in a house surrounded by boxes, bin liners, bags and debris … and can’t find anything. I can only relax when things start to get done and I can see light at the end of the tunnel.
Unfortunately, I still have the house in Coulsdon hanging over me, and, after three months, am still waiting to exchange contracts on its sale. So I have to find ways to keep at bay the worry that that causes. But, the new house is getting straight and I absolutely love it. Downstairs is now tidy and I can put my feet down in the study. Hurrah! So, this post is to say that, as of yesterday, the hiatus is over. I am now back on track with my writing. I’m not doing a follow-up to Book 1 in my detective series yet; I’m doing a standalone psychological thriller. Having set my first book in London, I wanted a different setting. I also want psycho-geography and community to play much more of a part this time, and so I decided a while ago that this book is going to be set in Whitstable. It’s all plotted (something I was doing whilst I was packing and unpacking, so it wasn’t all time wasted) and I’ve written the first 5,000 words. I am sad to leave my detectives for a while but I have a feeling I shall return to them. For now, the new book feels exactly what I want to be writing. The plan is to achieve 1,000 words + a day on the first draft until it’s finished. This is what I did on the first novel and it worked really well. I have new locations to write in, both at home and around Whitstable, new landscape to inspire me, and I couldn’t be happier. My body is recovering and I’m sleeping well (despite the seagulls going crazy in the small hours every night!). I know in my heart that moving here was absolutely the right thing to do.
Vicky Newham © 2013