Weekly ramblings by Hilary Boyd
The virus is messing with my head again – amongst everything else it’s messing with. I’m just settling down to write my next novel. It was to be set in 2020, but now I’m having a drastic rethink. I can’t comfortably start a story that will span the year when I don’t know how it will all end. It’s not like Brexit, where you can just not mention the damn thing – leave politics out of the picture altogether.
I quite like having no social commitments. Sounds really terrible, doesn’t it? But, however much I look forward to seeing my friends – and I do – it’s really peaceful not to look at the week ahead and start making calculations about which London train to catch, when should I wash my hair so it’s not fluffy…
Are you going to read ‘something serious and improving’ whilst in the continued lockdown? Dante has been mentioned by some, and Proust, James Joyce’s Ulysses. All of which – if you haven’t already read them and are not rolling your eyes at the prospect – would be fascinating and fulfilling, should you be feeling strong and really focused.
Hurrah! Garden centres, it seems, can open from today. Peace – to use the irritating war analogy so popular these days – will be restored. Our Beloved Leader (OBL) is apparently allowing us to get our hands on some begonias for the herbaceous border at last – a small ray of light in an otherwise still gloomy climate. I can hear a collective sigh of relief wafting up from the English countryside.
Friends keep telling me that they’re keeping a journal about life under our friend Covid. They assume – me being a writer – that I might be too. But I’m not. I write all day, I don’t want to write all night too.
I have never dwelt much on how old I am. Lucky really. My sister insists we’re still both ‘In the early foothills of middle age’, which is completely true, of course… except we’d have to live till we were 140 if it was. They say we’re all living longer, but that maybe stretching it a bit.
‘Great time to be a writer,’ everyone keeps reminding me in these tricky Virus Times. And they’re not wrong. Solitude – currently trending as ‘self-isolation’ – is the lot of every novelist. There’s no way you can create a coherent document of around 100,000 words without spending a massive amount of time with only your computer/notepad for company.
This Covid fellow is such an evil creep. His attention-seeking is phenomenal, it takes my breath away – literally. I’ve never seen someone so obsessed with finding the spotlight.
Finding the perfect heroine is Do or Die. If she comes across even remotely whiny or unsympathetic – or a bit of a snooze, you’ll sling the book on the charity shop pile. One of the main criticisms of my early, unpublished novels, was that the heroines were not sufficiently compelling.