I have wanted to write books for a very long time. For years I thought the only way I was going to be able to do this was if I had a special ‘writing place’ which was difficult living in a studio flat with a clunky home computer. Of course, this was an improvement on my word processor (if you were born after 1980 then look it up!) in my student room.
In my early 20’s I bought a laptop, it was tiny and pretty useless! I don’t think it really ever connected to the internet, I think I could type on it and save to a floppy desk. Still I lay on my bed (Sarah Jessica Parker AKA Carrie) typing away but it still didn’t feel as though I had found the right ‘place’.
An ill-fated house share with an ex boyfriend finally gave me the perfect writing spot. The house was a mini one-bedroom cottage, tucked away on the leafy streets of Tufnell Park. There I had a desk! In front of a window! Looking out over a tree! How could I fail to be inspired. Sadly this coincided with a very difficult time in my life and while the house was perfect for me, the relationship was very far from it and I ended things very quickly. I was much sadder about leaving the house than I was about the relationship which says a lot!
How could I be a writer now, living in a friend’s spare room? Not so much writers block as the complete inability to write a word. After starting a new relationship (far more successful as he is now my husband!) I went on holiday, by myself. Something I had done many times before, in fact I had travelled half way round the world by myself a number of times. However this was not a great trip. I had chosen Morocco which really wasn’t the best idea as a young blonde. Unable to find any of the ‘traveller community’ I had nestled in so easily on other trips I retreated with books. Then disaster struck and I RAN OUT OF BOOKS! Sadly my hostel only had the prerequisite German thriller in it’s book exchange. Desperately scanning the shops for books, the only English ones I found were ridiculously expensive.
At the same time there was trouble in paradise for my fledgling relationship. In that he seemed to have disappeared off the face of the earth. He was also travelling at the time, much further south in South Africa, same continent at least. My text’s had gone unanswered so I headed to the local internet cafe (again if you are under about 35 you will need to google this one…) I emailed him, all casual to begin with you know the kind of thing. ‘Having such a good time, as I am a strong, independent, interesting, adventurous woman…’
I won’t say I was obsesses but I think I did pop in and log on at least 3 times a day. With no joy. My conclusion of course, he had obviously been eaten by a shark. After a while I had a revelation. Rather than pop in and out of the cafe I could just stay there and write! So that was how my book So, Is it Me You’re Looking For? Started. This was when I also realised that you don’t really need special equipment or a place to write, after all I managed a few, admittedly shoddy chapters while sitting in a hot and smelly internet cafe, writing my story into Hotmail messages (again, no cloud in those days…) with intermittent internet, an Arabic keyboard and lots of noise.
The story has a happy ending. It was my first step into actually writing a book, I think it took me about three years to actually finish it and another seven to publish…with plenty of re-writes and revisions, but hey, it was a start. My boyfriend was alive and well and had just not been able to make contact and the end of my holiday was fab when I met up with a friend of mine from London who was on holiday with his mum. Desperate by now for some booze (Morocco is very ‘dry’ in parts) We ended up in some dodgy club thick with smoke and ladies of the night, an unforgettable night!
NB- I looked for a photo of and internet cafe and the picture above was what I found. Please note this is NOT what internet cafe’s actually looked like. They were pretty grubby and only served Nescafe in paper cups, if you were lucky.