Writing at 40,000 feet

January 14, 2016

1This blog is written at a height of 40,000 feet while travelling above the Black Sea at 492mph. It’s dark outside.

It has been easy not to write for the past two weeks. They were given over to a holiday in Goa, on the southwest coast of India. I read, and went birdwatching with daily zeal. At dusk we sat on our balcony and watched a wave of fruit bats break from roosts above the neighbouring mango swamp. They beat broad wings against the darkening sky.

It seems the holiday has restored me. On this long night flight back to Gatwick, as screens on the back of headrests show films all around me, I put down the book I am reading and wanted to write instead.

Five winters ago I was returning to Hull from time in Brussels, Bruges and

Zeebrugge. A novel had been cooking in my mind and the trip was part of its research. Closed into a cabin on the ferry, the first words stirred and I started to write. Now I’ve returned to it writing in the cabin of a plane.

It’s a vampire novel. Even five years ago literary agents told me the thirst for the genre was over, there was no market, but the book wanted to be written even so. It has had much of the nocturnal about it. I regularly woke at 5am to push the book forward. Once, in our Pyrenean hideaway, I looked up from one such early morning bout at the flapping of a bat against the window outside. It seemed right.

I redrafted the book as my Christmas treat to my self, completing it in the pre-dawn of my birthday. That draft was about adding clarity, and removing several thousand words. I thought the book was done.

Seems not. This time I’m adding words. Whole scenes just got expanded.

My body’s lightly pustuled with mosquito bites from India. Yesterday someone pointed to my leg. A tick had attached itself and was swollen with my blood. All good preparation for resuming a vampire book, I reckon. It will let go its hold on me one day.


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