In some ways, I understand what being at home all day is all about. I have been working from home for more than 25 years. I have been a writer since I left university in 1983. It’s a long time, and although I’m now a priest I am writing as much as ever.
My desk, in lock-down, tells a story. I have a fountain pen (well I have dozens of them) and I like to jot down my ideas first. I always like the thought that my ideas flow from my pen nib straight onto the page. It stops me fretting about writing – I just get started and see how it goes. I have long-since stopped pausing for breath or to edit as I go along. When I used to run courses teaching people how to write, I’d ask them to imagine that the pen was connected to their brain.
Having the right mug (and coffee) is vital. I have a collection of cups that remind me of happy times in my life. Having been stuck inside for a month, I like to get out a mug that connects me up with the world again. My mug is from Strand Books in NYC. It is one of the greatest bookshops in the world – and the best in NY, I think. I can almost detect that unique NYC smell and it takes me back to feeling like a citizen of the world again. I have other mugs too. I especially like the one from Blackwells of Oxford. I studied there for Ordination and I have such happy memories.
Then there is my notebook. I like the About:Blanks range – do look them up. They are made from old books by a fellow in the Netherlands. He takes out the innards and adds some well-crafted blank pages. They are stylish and they make me smile. I have dozens of notebooks and they are all over the vicarage. I’ll suddenly find one in an unexpected place. I am addicted to buying notebooks and pens.
Then there is the thinking cap. I had this one made for me and I have 5 or 6 others. It is a rather beautiful green velvet affair. I always wear a thinking cap while writing. It gets me in the mood and signals that I am going to a different kind of mental space. Last year I wrote 3 books and used a different thinking cap for each. I write for an hour at the start of every day and then write for most of my day off on a Friday. It is a great joy, but also, I fear, an addiction.
Of course, I rely heavily on my trusty laptop; I must clean it more often as I also eat while writing.
Finally, there is the small bird that I always have near me when writing. It is from Sweden and made of laminate. I look at it and think of the world outside and the birds going about their business. It reminds me that I always wanted to be able to fly and that when I write I feel as though I am doing just that.