Just at the moment, a broken washing machine is dead in the middle of the kitchen.
‘What’s for supper?’ ask the kids as they come back from school.
‘I don’t know, I reply. It depends on the washing machine. It’s blocking everything.’
‘Oh,’ they say staring at the piles of plates trying to get into the dishwasher and the shopping unable to cram itself into the cupboards. ‘So probably pasta again.’
I too stare at the mayhem and nod my agreement. ‘Pasta again,’ I say.
It’s not that I couldn’t cook something more exciting, it’s just the limbo of not knowing that stops me committing myself to cooking something more exciting.
Real life dictates that I wait for a delivery driver. That’s been going on since 2 – it could go on until 9.
It’s boring and it completely stops me from functioning as a writer. I’ve done nothing remotely useful since 2.
This is not writer’s block, it’s just life block.
I have this image of Ernest Hemingway never washing up. Jane Austen never had to go to parents’ night. Charles Dickens didn’t have to get his car serviced. Chaucer didn’t have to file accounts. None of them ever spent all Sunday doing Geography homework. None of them had real lives outside work.
But then if I had all that time back, without the minutiae of life blundering in, I’d probably find I didn’t have anything to say.
The third of the SHRUNK! books slipped out into the world last week. Like a freshly scrubbed seal pup it drifted out onto the waves and started to swim . It’s called GHOSTS ON BOARD, and it has the same lovely characters as SHRUNK! with the addition of a bunch of ghosts. Jacob is awful, Eric is wise and Tom is sorely tempted. Tilly, Tom’s unreasonable sister is back – and Mum and Dad are as ever, clueless numpties. There’s threat and danger and the contributions of hundreds of schoolchildren (see THE STORY ADVENTURE) wrangled into shape by the application of logic and hard work. You don’t have to read SHRUNK! first, but it helps.
It’s that time of year:
Thank you for the colour by numbers set. That is really kind.
Fleur aged 18
Dear Uncle Ian,
Thank you for the pen nife,
I will try to us it carfully.
Ed aged 3.
Now people have different views on thank you letters – see here in the Guardian. And in part, I kind of agree, but…
I’ve just written one to a school of children in Stoke on Trent who sent me a stack of letters. They’ve been studying SHRUNK! this term and they’ve been to visit to model village. They had a load of excellent questions like ‘Why did Tom shrink Jacob?’ and ‘Why is it called SHRUNK!’ but best of all, they sent some fantastic drawings:
They’re definitely worth a thank you letter.