|View from my window around noon! Gibraltar in a thunderstorm|
Gibraltar is soaked. There's a deluge going on out there of almost biblical proportions. Parts of the nearby Costa del Sol are under water, sides of hills seem to be disintegrating and the sea is reaching up hungrily towards the land to greet the torrent that approaches it. The sky is so dark that mid-day seems to be early evening and early evening is dissolving in the clouds and becoming night.
I ought to be grateful really. There's nowhere that I need to be and my home is reasonably dry - except for the bit by the living room window that still leaks when the wind is this strong. Better still, the kids are quiet catching up with homework, the husband is engrossed in the snooker and even the dog is happy to curl up in his favourite corner and avoid the outdoors.
So suddenly I have time. Now there's a luxury. If there is one thing that impedes me from completing the fiction pieces I want to write, or from producing poetry more often, perhaps enough poems to put together into a slim volume, it is lack of time.
Like most writers, I have to earn a living, and I have not managed to earn enough from writing to keep the kids alive and a roof over our heads. Yet. But I am working on it. There are outlets for writing in the big wide world. Probably more now by virtue of the Internet which relies on words as much as on visual material. It is not easy to find outlets for written work, but with some persistence and a professional approach, it can pay.
In the meantime, I have to get on with the day job and the novel lurks in the recesses of the hard drive waiting to emerge to the light of day.
So, just as I have that precious pocket of time, lo and behold, I am beset by BSS - Blank Screen Syndrome, formerly known as BPA - Blank Page Affliction. What is it about that white screen and blinking cursor that banishes all those ideas that normally clutter your brain making you forget what you went in the shop for and what time your daughter's dentist appointment was, or where you put the butter (yes, I have been known to find a melting puddle of butter at the bottom of a shopping bag having forgotten to unload it)?
What to do about it? Well, if you leave it too long, BSS erodes that special bit of time you have carved out for yourself. The more you stare at the screen, the more you'll fret that you have nothing to write and even if an idea crops up, your confidence will have begun to wane and you won't see the value of it. So my tip, for what it's worth is simply to start writing.
Some writers recommend just hitting the keys at random, writing any old rubbish which you can always delete once the words start to come. Some advocate free writing where for ten minutes, to a timer, you write whatever comes into your head; disjointed thoughts, shopping lists, anything. This seems to act like a mental unblocker, clearing the mind and leaving you free to write what you need to. I've never tried free writing. Instead I move away from the screen, but I write something, anything, in longhand. A letter to an old friend, perhaps, or I'll organise my week in my diary (I still have an old-fashioned Filofax). Sometimes I'll just write an entry into a journal. I'm not a great diary keeper, my journal entries can be six months and more apart, but it does serve to unblock the words.
So, having burbled on my blog about Blank Screen Syndrome, the torrent of words is ready to emerge. The weather is still ghastly, the snooker is still on, the kids are still quiet and the dog is snoring. Christmas short story on its way.