I, like many others, have periods when writing is so blooming hard that I will do anything to get out of it. Yes, I can make myself sit at the keyboard but there’s always Google to look up that 90’s band whose name I can’t think of. Or a recipe for lamb tagine even though I don’t have a tagine and no one in the family likes lamb.
Yes, of course, I have to look them up right now and, no, of course it won’t wait.
If I turn off the internet and make everyone in the house promise to shoot me if I turn it back on – although, when I’m writing, there’s always a word that needs replacing using an on-line thesaurus – there are other distractions.
It’s amazing what you can get out of the keyboard when you poke round each letter with a cocktail stick. I’ve done it. Too many times to count. When writers block hits I have the cleanest keyboard in England.
So how to make myself write?
I wrote a list of things I love. Okay, so it was another diversion that delayed me actually writing but, for once, it helped.
Part of the list.
- Beautiful young men
- Beautiful young men falling in love
- Closed, secretive, hidden worlds
- Beautiful young men falling in love and having wild sex
- Beautiful young men falling in love, having wild sex and being noble
Gymnastics should have been easy to include. I *adore* gymnastics; the movement, the grace and, if it’s done well, the style and artistry. I’m equally passionate about both men’s and women’s gymnastics but at the moment there is no one – and never has been – like Kōhei Uchimura. Incredibly difficulty done with incredible style. A true artist.
But there’s a problem. Adorable as he is with his floppy mop of hair and his hairy underarms he’s not my idea of a beautiful young man who could fall in love and have wild sex.
So how to get gymnastics in the story? No problem: make one of the beautiful young men a gymnastics coach! Sorted.
As for the rest of the list most were also easy. Set the story behind an impenetrable wall of secrecy – I was thinking somewhere like North Korea only more secretive – and I could have all sorts of fun. Different circumstances: different rules that I could change and mould to my heart – and plot’s – content. Make one of the beautiful young men collect books and all I had to include was falling in love and wild sex.
I really, really, REALLY like writing about beautiful men falling in love and sex. Oh yes, I love writing about sex as well.
I had to be careful about one thing though. I know a lot about gymnastics and coaching so I had to make sure I didn’t overload the story with technical detail that only I’d appreciate. But, apart from that, the words flowed when I sat down to write. Mostly. I still have an extraordinarily clean keyboard but, hey, that has to be a good thing, right!
This story became my new book, ‘To Stand Close’ which was out in March.
You can find it here…