Monday, 9 May 2011

Dream lives

One of the loveliest parts of writing is imagining yourself into other people's lives whether plotting imperial intrigue in ancient Rome, investigating supernatural crimes whilst juggling a werewolf secret identity or falling in love with an international playboy who just happens to pop into your Cotswald teashop (delete as applicable). In the last year I have explored regency debutante life both at the heart of the Ton (the standard R) and in scandal dogged exile (my NV entry). I fleetingly tracked down a one night stand (Valentine comp) and spent a lovely month as a successful writer living in a messy cottage hidden amongst the olde world streets of Rye (Nano). In my current hibernating tortoise of a WIP I am reliving the intensity of first love and, just for a bonus, get to wander on sun drenched beaches Cornish beaches looking at the wet suit clad torso of a hero who happens (coincidentally) to look a little like Josh Holloway.
It's a hard life...
All this is, sadly, a long way from the rather drab reality of a small terrace in a Northern city manically juggling work, child, house and, what is it? Oh yes, writing. Or at least putting my netbook on and sighing a lot whilst checking my wordcount obsessively in case the book happens somehow to write itself.
The last two weekends I experienced two very different styles of living, both of which provided a stark contrast to Yorkshire suburbia. Over the Bank Holiday weekend I went to stay with a friend in west London. London was admittedly at its beautiful best. The sun was shining and some wedding or the other had the whole city revelling in a carnival atmosphere (OK I admit it, I was there...). When I lived in London I was North London all the way but found myself beguiled by the (pricey) charm of the West - walking along the Thames path, enjoying beer gardens and gastro pubs, yet just a short tube journey to the heart of the city. I wanted to be in London again so badly it hurt and sulked the whole train journey home - and yes, it was a good five degrees colder in the grim North.
This weekend the daughter had a sleepover at an old friend's house. They hardly see each other any more as her friend has moved out to the Wolds so it was all Very Exciting and required lots of squealing and telephone calls to discuss outfits; they are seven. Dropping daughter off we found ourselves pressed to stay for a cup of tea and ended up there all afternoon, whiling the time away in the sunshine looking out over vales, hills and woods. Trees were newly leafed, birds singing, bees humming (noisily, they were swarming which is a major fear of mine but luckily they were at the other end of the garden) while the children disappeared out into fields to return muddy and exhausted. The family dogs played in the paddock before dropping sleepily at our feet and we ate crumpets, drank tea and chatted. As we drove back to the outskirts of our provincial city I sighed. "I wish we lived in the country."
So which am I? City slicker or country mouse? Like most of us I suspect I am a bit of both. When I imagine my dream life (not that I do that every day or anything) it usually involves a seaside cottage, a red setter and a really fabulous study. Yes, most people's dream houses have amazing kitchens, or gardens, mine has a book-lined study with a bay window and one of those little ladders for getting books off top shelves. Real fires, natch, a cottage garden that looks after itself and clutter that miraculously tidies away without nagging.And for weekends, holidays and to see plays (remember, this is a fantasy) I have a little flat in west London, overlooking the river and right by the tube. Husband and daughter are there of course, it would be a lonely fantasy otherwise, but tidier and definitely no violin practice - even a fantasy life can't make violin practice palatable
The chances of actually living that life are slim *deep sigh* but imagining it is pretty fun, especially if I can take those clear pictures in my mind and convert them into settings for my heroes and heroines to enjoy, before they settle down in suburbia for their HEA of course.