Wed 13 November 2019
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Off-putting behaviour
After much delay I finally get around to the subject of procrastination writes AL Kennedy

I have a small blackboard in my study. On it, I carefully chalk all of the writing-related tasks I have not yet completed: essays, scripts, treatments, rewrites, short stories, letters, novel-planning, crying in a corner, talking to my kettle ... There are days when I love this blackboard and its anal-retentive attention to detail: its tiny chalk-holding flange, its even tinier rubbing-out cloth: and there are also days when it feels like having a debt-collector in the room with me, smelling of broken legs and hardened hearts.

Having pretty much lost two months to illness, I am currently ignoring the board completely. I haven't allowed myself to approach it closely, never mind study its listed assignments, or consider how many others I am hiding from myself by simply keeping them in my head. Off the board and in my brain, I know they will come adrift from their deadlines and end up getting tangled in each other, but I don't care – a visible inventory would simply drive me back to the kitchen where I would end up giving the kettle abuse. And actually my kettle's very nice.

Why do I have such a deep and intimate relationship with my kettle? Because for 25 years, give or take, I have been a person who knows they have something to write. I have written when nobody wanted to hear from me, I have written when I could earn as much as £30 in year by my writing, I have written when I was tired from my day job, when I was filled with the terrifying elation of a new idea, when I was starting my first novel, when I was starting my sixth novel, when I was rewriting something apparently insoluble, when I was trying to prove myself employable and when I was just fooling about until I could see what might happen. In all of these circumstances and more, what was the common factor? The kettle. As soon it's inevitable that a writer must begin their first word, it becomes (almost) equally and conflictingly inevitable that the writer must do something else really quickly before scribbling breaks out. Hence the kettle. Tell you what, I'll just go and make a fresh beverage, then I'll get down to things properly. Absolutely. Of course I will.

For the rest of the article

The Guardian

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