Over the past three weeks, I've been reading A Writer's Space: Make Room to Dream, to Work, to Write by Eric Maisel. I've mentioned another book of his on this blog - The Van Gogh Blues - but this one had been sitting on my shelf for months, and I'd kind of forgotten I owned it.
Until the time arrived when suddenly I no longer had the house to myself every day for writing (retired husband syndrome), and found I was really struggling. One day, I walked past my bookshelf, put out my hand and grabbed this book and thought - How come I've never got around to reading this? Well, because I wasn't in a place where I needed it. Now I am. And I've been reading and thinking and reading some more, and answering some of the questions Maisel poses at the end of each chapter. It's been incredibly useful, and given me plenty to consider, along with some hope!
A Writer's Space is not just physical. It's not just about having someone in the house every day. It's also about needing to be silent, alone, and to have constant headspace in which to stay in the world of the story you are writing. Having another person constantly talking, or being around, when you aren't used to it, is very hard to come to terms with. Maisel talks about other kinds of space too - reflective, emotional, imaginative and existential! I particularly liked his chapters on mindfulness, something that relates to more than just your writing life.
These days I am, shall I say, judicious about where I spend my book dollars. Quite a few writers who I would once have gaily bought without a second thought are now on my library borrowing list. When trade paperbacks are $32-38 full price, you think twice about what you buy! But some writers still remain on my "Yes, buy" list and Peter Robinson is one of them. Bad Boy starts without the usual hero, Alan Banks, front and centre, leaving the first half of the story to Annie Cabot, his sergeant.
This new story is satisfyingly multi-layered, and it was interesting to see Banks return to the fray without being an instant hero. He has more problems to solve than just his daughter being in trouble. One of the layers in the story deals with what our children do when they believe we aren't looking or don't care - the mistakes they make, and the long-reaching consequences. Like many well-written crime novels, I enjoy the setting of Robinson's books: the East Dales in northern England that, unlike Stuart MacBride's dismal Aberdeen, actually makes me want to visit there one day!