It’s no surprise if writers are a little odd. It’s an occupational hazard caused by spending so much time in your own head. But until the other day I hadn’t realised the oddity was visible, too.
I live by the sea, and one of the joys of my life is go down to the little beach nearby and watch the tide come in. There is something very soothing about watching time passing in this way. It’s also a very good background occupation while I’m working out what to write next.
So there I was, standing at the water’s edge, engrossed in both the puddling and ripples of the rising tide and a particularly knotty plot-hole in my current writing project, when a voice said, “Excuse me…”
I turned and discovered an old gentleman, complete with walking stick, looking at me earnestly.
“I just wondered if you were all right?” he said.
I climbed rapidly out of my reverie, and my plot-hole, too, and assured him that I was perfectly fine, thank you. He went on to say that he had seen me standing there alone for a long while (I often stand for an hour or more, losing all track of time – another occupational hazard), and thought he would just come down and check that all was well. He had hobbled down onto the beach – it’s a bit of a scramble, with no proper steps – across the shingle and all the way down to the tide line, walking stick and all.
I’m not sure what he thought I was going to do – perhaps hurl myself into the three inches of water in front of me – but I told him I simply enjoyed watching the tide advancing. I thought it better not to mention the writing or the plot-hole, which could only confuse the issue. He seemed satisfied that I was neither lost nor suicidal, so I thanked him for his kind concern, and he set off back up the beach on wobbly legs, looking more in need of my assistance than I was of his. I only hoped he would make it before the tide caught up with him.
But this curious little episode set me thinking. I had not considered it at all odd to stand alone and watch the water as I so often do, lost in thought. But other people apparently do. It’s one more step, I suppose, towards becoming a proper eccentric. I guess I can live with that. Perhaps I should carry leaflets detailing my books to hand out to any future rescuers. It’s a thought.
Ready to read soon…
Whales and Strange Stars
A stunning mystery in the tradition of Jamaica Inn. When a sea captain passes through the forgotten port of Wych Ferry and whiles away an hour at the Tradewinds Inn relating his traveller’s tales to young Rosamund Euden, he has no idea of the dramatic events he has set in action. Adventure, dark magic and betrayal in the marshlands of 18th century Kent.
To be published by Crooked Cat Books, 12 December, 2017