Friday, November 26, 2021

An Appetite for Construction (of sentences)

 by Abir

Share your favourite writing snack or drink – one that gets you moving when you're stuck or allows you to relax after a time spent “butt in chair.”


Well this is an interesting question. It seems almost tailored to me because I’m fat and lazy and rely on a conveyor belt of snack and hot beverages to get me through the day. So let’s start at the beginning.


I’ll get up at around 6.30 and make my wife a coffee. Me making her the first coffee of the day has become a bit of a ritual in our house. She makes pretty much everything else in terms of meals and snacks for both of us, but by making her that first cup, I’m both in the good books (she doesn’t like to get up early) and am storing up good karma for the rest of the day.


I won’t drink coffee that early. I used to, but then I read an article on the internet (so it must be true) saying coffee first thing was bad for your blood pressure. So I stopped. Instead I’ll have a cup of green tea (which tastes like hot, liquid seaweed – but I don’t really notice cos my tastebuds don’t come to work till 9am) and make myself a bowl of porridge. The secret to good porridge is to let the oats soak for at least an hour apparently, but who’s got time to soak their oats for an hour when you’ve got coffee to make for the wife and kids to resuscitate, feed, dress and shove out of the front door in time for school? Not me. I just let them soak (the oats, not the kids) for about five minutes; six on a good day.


So anyway, let’s assume we all make it through to 8.30am without any disasters such as the kids not finding their shoes or setting fire to the house. That’s when a degree of peace descends. The two idiots are on their way to school. The wife has generally popped out for a quick trip to the high street. Guildford has a lovely high street, by the way – all cobblestones and ye fake olde English facades. It’s just a shame the shops are so expensive.


So I’ve got the house to myself. I’m loaded up on porridge and now I feel like a nap. But that’s not allowed cos I’ve got work to do: books to write, edits to finish, Twitter and Facebook and Instagram to trawl. So this is when I have that coffee. Then I’ll set to work, generally spending half an hour writing before going on social media and getting angry at stuff until about 11am when I remember I’m supposed to be working.


Generally I have lunch around lunch time, which seems to work well. I went through a phase of eating a lot of sushi at lunch times, but since the advent of Covid I don’t have as much of it cos I’m worried the sushi people are going to sneeze on it (by accident) in the shop. I know this is stupid, but I can’t help it.


Afternoons are the hardest part of the day for me in term of concentrating on my work. The bursts of writing get shorter and the periods of time wasting increase exponentially. Afternoons are when I snack more too. There’ll be several cups of tea, accompanied by McVitie’s Rich Tea biscuits. Now the Rich Tea Biscuit is a much maligned thing. Some people will tell you that they taste like dry-wall or loft insulation, but do not listen to these people. They are bitter and twisted and deserve only your pity. The Rich Tea biscuit is in fact a marvel of culinary engineering. Their consistency is just right for dunking in semi-hot tea and they are wonderful. I generally eat 3 or 4 with each cup of tea. I tried cutting down to two per cup, but that seemed to remove a lot of the magic in my life.


The kids tend to come home around 4ish, so that’s when things start to get mental. I’ll try and do some work, staggering through till about six if possible before giving up. The next few hours are taken up with dinner and getting the kids ready for bed. Occasionally, if I’m up against a deadline, I might do a writing shift between 9pm and midnight, and on those occasions I might have a glass of whisky to help with the creative process. A single malt is good – something sherried like a Glendronach, is perfect. To me it tastes like alcoholic warm honey, and then that’s pretty much it till 6.30 in the morning when it all starts again with that horrid, horrid green tea.


Mary Picken said...

Hmmm....where you're going awry is by not using pinhead oatmeal to make your porridge. Try it, you will not regret it!

Abir said...

I shall give it a go, Mary!