9: The Interlude

Posted in Diary posts on April 26th, 2010 by Peter Baker

26 April 2010

From 7 February, with the book done, life began opening up.

The arm tied behind my back swung out – flexing away the pins and needles – and long-stagnant to-do lists were assessed, prioritised then stripped down. Starting with the basics: visit the doctor, the dentist and the hospital (it’s official: I’m healthy). Next, life logistics: fill forms, make calls, write letters, divert an income stream into a pension, set up an investment account, attack the massive unsecured loan I took out to spend a year living in a shed.
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8: The Final Cut

Posted in Diary posts on February 15th, 2010 by Peter Baker

15 February 2010

Tony the Tiger update: Tony has taught himself to read music.  Four months ago he still thought musical stave lines directly represented guitar strings.  Now he can sight read ‘The Star-Spangled Banner’.  It’s remarkable.  It’s like living with a curmudgeonly east-London version of Jimmi Hendrix.  We’ve lined Tony up a gig at next summer’s Peace Fest.  He’s hoping he’ll attract some groupies.

December was mental.  By the 4th I had the month planned out hour-by-hour to ensure I used every moment for the penultimate editing and review sessions – picking through text with my heroic copyeditor, sitting in kitchens soaking up reaction, protracted arguments about the presentation of ideas, then head down: actioning, tweaking, adjusting and fine-tuning.
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7: 19 Relentless Months

Posted in Diary posts on January 30th, 2010 by Peter Baker

30 January 2010

Now I’ve nearly finished, I thought it might be of interest to share the experience of writing a book while simultaneously holding down a 55-hour-a-week City job and investing heavily in one’s parents.

The experience entails doing two full-time, full-on, high-commitment things at the same time.  One involves constantly moving and always keeping 10 balls in the air.  The other requires a cool head, a clear mind and deep, hard, systematic thought.  They pull your brain opposite ways in a 24-hour cycle of cerebral freeze-thaw – a recipe for mental disorientation and emotional fatigue.
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6: Don’t Blink Now

Posted in Diary posts on December 14th, 2009 by Peter Baker

14 December 2009

We buried Mum in a green-burial meadow which, once sown with trees, will one day become a forest.  They let us choose which species was planted on her grave.  Dad chose a hazel because nightingales nest in them and the nuts will attract squirrels.

So, her work complete and legend secure, Mum’s departed into memory and myth, leaving the family to find its way without her.  Dad holds the fort, Ruth tussles with two demanding small people, and I enter my third and final winter of writing.
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5: Creative Process Report

Posted in Diary posts on October 2nd, 2009 by Peter Baker

2 October 2009

This doesn’t get any easier. Leaving work every Friday evening – brain fried – I head to the gym to clear my head for the weekend. Then it’s back to east London where I lock myself away, sit at my desk and put in the hours. By Saturday afternoon I’m in the zone – emerging hourly to babble at Tony, make more tea, or trot to the far side of the apartment where a wired-up computer has www.britannica.com and www.thesaurus.com permanently open.

Where I am now would have been a dream a year, even six months, ago. But I’m still not done. That’s because I’m desperately short of the one truly non-renewable resource; time. There’s too much to do and never enough hours to invest more than the barest minimum in anything, or anyone, outside the essentials – work, book, Mum, Dad.

And so, stage-by-stage, every other part of my life has been screwed up. Read more »