ARE WRITERS LONELY?
MUSIC WHILE I WRITE, AND OTHER DISTRACTIONS THAT HELP TO SET MY PEN AFLAME
The old adage that writers lead a lonely life sitting with their cats in an isolated turret, is simply not true any more.
Not counting the social networks, which I love, music, and the myriad ways to access it in this digital age, is first on my list of inspirational must-haves that make it impossible for me to ever feel lonely. It can motivate you, soothe you, make you feel loved, frighten the pants off you, turn you on – you name it, there isn’t a branch of music that can’t be utilized in the writing process. You never feel alone when you have music in your ears. Well, not just in your ears, because music reverberates through the whole body. Just recently I had an eye operation. For several days I couldn’t read or write or talk on FaceBook, or send emails or chat on Skype. I nearly went mad – until I plugged my head-set into my little radio and oh what bliss it was, especially when combined with looking out of the window at my beloved beach which I am not allowed to walk on right now in case the mighty south-easter blows sand into my slowly recovering eye.
When I was writing ‘Pinpoint’ I drove around some of the places in the UK where the characters had their most dramatic scenes: the lonely moors in the Peak National Park, the deserted canals through the city of Manchester. the notorious gangland areas of Manchester’s downtown Moss Side. On these journeys of discovery I always slotted in a CD with something dramatic, like ‘Night on a Bare Mountain’ by Mousorsky. Now that’s spine-chilling music! Especially if you play it really loud. I would also have my tape recorder on the seat next to me and would carry on a running commentary as if I were the character living the experience, and often these impromptu words went straight into Pinpoint without any alterations.
My lovely beach, here in Glencairn Heights where I live when I’m in Cape Town, often deserted apart from me, is another gem of companionship and inspiration to me. The wind and the roar of the crashing Indian Ocean waves drowns out the imaginary conversations I have with my characters, when the dialogue that tumbles from my lips seems far more real and dramatic than if I were sitting in front of my computer. The sound of the sea and the plaintive cry of the seagulls is the music, while the majesty of the mountains towering around me lends a sense of drama to the scene, and all this, combined with the smell of the sea and the feeling of other-worldliness gives me the freedom to let my imagination explode. I can even imagine a love scene on the beach, as though it were happening there and then – Wow!
My third most useful distraction/inspiration/companionship is that glass of ice-cold pink blanc-de-noir wine, made from the delicious grapes of the Cape Winelands. As you feel the tingle of this amazing wine trickling down your throat, you can sense the relaxing of your inhibitions that allows you to write whatever comes into your head without the desire to censor it in any way, and often this is when I write my best scenes. Two glasses in two hours is enough to create these moments of magic.
Lonely – oh no, far from it. Never!
Oh, and I nearly forgot one of the most important writing companions of all –
Sheila Mary Taylor
Genre: Crime (Legal Crime Psychological Thriller)
Number of pages: 363
Word Count: 122,000
A lawyer, a murderer and a policeman - caught in a tangled web of love, loss, terror and intrigue.
When lawyer Julia Grant interviews Sam Smith who has been charged with an especially vicious murder, she feels a strange connection to him, as if she has met him before, as if he holds the key to something she has forgotten among the unbearable memories from her past she has determinedly blotted out.
He feels a connection too. "Julia, you are the only one who can help me," he pleads.
Is it the same connection? Does he know something she cannot recall?
When he is duly convicted despite her best efforts, he suddenly turns on her in the courtroom and threatens that one day he will make sure to wreak his revenge on her.
But why? What has she ever done to him?
And then, on his way to prison, he escapes ......
About the Author:
Sheila Mary Taylor was born in Cape Town beneath the towering slopes of Table Mountain. Her Scottish parents, both serious academics and writers, despaired of her, as the things that turned her on as a youngster seemed far removed from their serious world of academia.
And no wonder. Cape Town was a distracting paradise to grow up in: mountain climbing, surfing in the glistening waters of the Indian Ocean, roller-skating, riding, hunting – and parties galore. She did it all, although the thing she loved most was dancing, and until she was twenty-three when she met Colin, her husband-to-be, on a visit to the UK, she wanted to make ballet her career. But having been surrounded by wall-to-wall books from an early age, and listening to music almost non-stop as her father played his hi-fi classical records so loud it was like having an orchestra in the house, was bound to have a belated influence on her. Yet it was only much later that these two strong influences – combined with the clock-ticking heartbreak of her youngest son Andrew being diagnosed with teenage cancer – would change her life and kick-start her writing career.
Her plethora of unusual activities: jockey in amateur ladies’ races, exhibition roller skating in night-clubs, a spell of acting and directing, secretary to a diplomat, creator and editor of a dramatic society magazine, dancing in the Royal Albert Hall, and above all, living in exciting exotic places around the world with Colin, her mining engineer husband of almost sixty incredible years – have all enriched and inspired her writing.
LinkedIn: Sheila Belshaw