I never leave the house without a notebook. Or two. Or three. I have one for every project I’m working on. Another for ‘general writing ideas’. Another for notes for courses, lectures, book clubs, recordings etc. Another that serves as my reading journal. And always a spare, of course. They serve as a mental jolt that whatever situation I’m in, I should have my writing brain switched on, ready to receive new ideas for stories and plots. After expressing the fear that having a newborn baby to look after might kick me out of good writing habits, my lovely husband, Hugh, bought me a notebook to have next to me ‘at all times’ when I’m doing new mummy things like feeding, nappy changing, winding… Just keep scribbling, is the motto.
Hugh and I have been attending a number of ante-natal courses in the last few months (NCT, NHS, Hypnobirthing, Breastfeeding…you name it). And every time, I bring my notebook. Others bring notebooks too. They write a few words down here and there. I write pages. And so I get sideways glances. What a geek! I hear them thinking. She’s writing more words than the teacher’s speaking, thinks another. She’s showing off say another’s eyes. They see me as the teacher-pleasing pupil sitting in the front row with her hand stuck in the air. And sure, I am a bit of a geek. A bit of a goody two-shoes. And I am making lots of notes about deep breathing and birthing positions and hormones…but I’m writing other things too. Ideas for characters. Ideas for stories. The plot of a whole novel sketched out on a page. The atmosphere of a particular room. What I can hear happening next door. Anything that might feed into a future piece of writing. That’s how I came up with ideas for What Milo Saw and Home Again, the novel I’m writing at the moment, as well as the Young Adult novels I’ve scribbled. Writers are magpies with notebooks for beaks who are forever spotting tempting shiny things to swoop down and snatch.