It also means my own work is pushed to the side. For a few weeks of the year, I barely even think about it, and I can feel myself get toey about it. So, with all this in mind, it was fantastic to get away with a few members of the SuperNOVA novel writing branch for a writers' weekend.
My mother tells me off when I go away like this. "You've got a family," she says. "It's selfish to leave them behind while you go on holiday." She's missing the point. This isn't a holiday per se: it's a chance to spend intensive time working on your novel. We do write. Or edit. And we do do it for most of the day. And the evening. And well into the night.
When I've been out with Western Women Writers, half the group wants to spend the whole time writing (I'm in that half), and half wants to spend half the time writing and half socialising. There's nothing wrong with this, of course. Balance is a good thing -- if you're not too time-pressured. I relish the time to be focused. And I get a lot done.
There's something about being away with other writers -- we all inspire each other to write lots. Procrastination is frowned upon. My friend Ellen is the task-master and gently keeps us all in line. Like me, she's not there to muck around. We measure success sometimes in words, or sometimes in more esoteric terms -- the feeling of having reconnected with your novel after time-out, or of nailing that difficult scene.
The worst part, always, is having to come home, and this weekend was a particularly short one, because of traffic concerns. But it's wonderful to have had dedicated time to spend with dedicated people -- something every writer needs.