On Not Writing in Italy

I’m living in one of the most beautiful places on earth, steeped in history and artistic tradition, so why can’t I write here?
The idea this winter was that while Neil was chipping away at his marble block, I would be tucked up cosily in our borrowed house, free from all the domestic trivia of ‘home’, gazing out of the window at the olive groves and writing like a train. I’ve got several projects in various stages of development and a big story that I’m trying to piece together. Uninterrupted time was, I thought, going to give me a fruitful couple of months or three to work on them.
But it hasn’t happened, and I don’t know why. One of the reasons is space - the only warm room in the house is the kitchen/diner, which has a small stove, but for some reason, although I use the computer there, I can’t write in this room. I seem to need a comfortable, cosy corner to curl up in. I also need privacy - a space where I can shut myself away without fear of interruption.
There’s also the exhaustion factor - I think I’m utterly worn out after the editing of the Mansfield book. But whatever it is, it bothers me, as I see the weeks slipping away and I’ve got nothing to show for the time spent here.
Maybe I’ve simply got to face the fact that I’m the kind of writer who needs her own quiet den to work in, surrounded by her own books and familiar things, without the disruption of travel and new places and faces. It’s stimulating, but not conducive to that quiet, dreamlike state where creative work is incubated and eventually hatched. It’s all input and no output at the moment.
There’s no end in sight yet. I’m off to London tomorrow for a couple of weeks of frenzy. Meetings with agents, and a trawl through the British Library and National Portrait Gallery for illustrations for the biography. Meanwhile, Neil’s sculpture now looks like this.


  1. Welcome home again Kathleen.

    The sculpture is exquisite, elegant. I've stolen a copy of it to put on my board. Hope that is OK.

    I should might say that you have written in Italy - colourful, exciting posts and images laid down like a carpet of experience. And shared.

    It's true that the detailed work of editing is very tiring and maybe does leave little emotional energy the make, to invent, to spin old into new.

    But perhaps you've hit it on the head when you mention the cold. Here in the north it's colder (probably) than Italy but we're geared up to compensate with overpriced heating all over the house. This is the time of closed in days where I feel I should write because that is the only thing that holds light and joy. Not easy. It had to be better in Italy.

    Last spring I escaped to the Languedoc for two months to write - no distractions etc worked for me. It was hot and bright and I wrote inside, outside, by the river, in the Cafe. In many ways the experience induced the hazy dreamlike state than you mention. Seemed to work. Now in my own cosy den, with the distractions around it is harder, more serious. Less playful. Less possible to write.

    Thank you for making me think of all of this and understand a bit more.


  2. I think you have explained the problems that you are having.
    You are a writer, so when you are ready your muse will caress you on the cheek and show you the way forward.
    In the mean time, enjoy what is no doubt a well earned rest.

  3. Thanks for the sympathy and good advice guys. I began to write again on the train from Gatwick to Victoria! Life is very strange.


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