I'd heard a strange noise out in the backyard several times, and thought it was machinery, or a squeaky door. Then I realised it was these two, sitting in my apricot tree, pigging out on what was left of the apricots. And having a good chatter together while they were at it. Probably thinking they'd better eat up before dusk and the arrival of the fruit bat (who can't be photographed because he's fast and dark).
I've been thinking a lot this week about writing alone - or why writers need to be alone when they write. Kristi Holl commented on headspace and thinking space. What happens when you're on a deadline and have to give up precious thinking and planning time, simply to get the words on the page and off to the editor. Or whoever is waiting for it. To me, this really is the difference between full-time and part-time writers. Not the writing time, which is often typing time, but the hours you get to spend just thinking about your story and all its possibilities.
I used to kid myself that I could write when my husband was in the room. He wasn't talking to me, so I should be able to block him out and write. No. I might have been typing words into the laptop, but I wasn't writing, not really. Mothers talk about waiting till their kids go down for a nap and then racing to the computer. People talk about waiting until everyone in the house is in bed before they can truly write, or getting up at 4am. It's about silence and solitude.
Not the physical silence (who has that these days?), but the silence inside your head. The quiet space that opens up when you no longer have to answer questions, fetch or find, or just be present for someone. The solitude you feel allows new people to enter the space - your characters. They might hover during the day, they might nudge you with a new idea, but they won't truly appear until you are alone, and belong totally to them.
It's taken me a long time to realise the difference between writing - because I have an hour or two and I know what comes next in the story - and writing alone, just me and the story. It's like being out in the middle of a huge field, flinging your arms out wide, breathing in the air and sunshine, then folding it all inside yourself, creating a space that becomes a world that becomes filled with your story and your people. Your people. Then the writing truly happens. The story is allowed to inhabit you, you can hear what the characters think and say, how they feel, who they are.
Unfortunately the experience only makes me want to throw in my day job, run off to a desert island (with power, of course) and write 7 days a week. I guess that's why I keep buying Lotto tickets!