Writer: Chris Simms
(Due to a last-minute cancellation, I’ve had to stand in for this feature. It’s quite strange to interview yourself.)
This is inside my writing shed. It’s seven steps from the back door of my house and – after commuting on the Northern line for several years – I always pause before opening the door and remember the misery of that journey.
Take a closer look:
The pot is full of pencil shavings. I write with a Blackwing – a superbly smooth pencil that an American writer tipped me off about. The shavings from each novel are all collected and, eventually, are sealed in a test tube. After a dozen novels, I have quite an impressive rack!
How long do you write for each day?
Until hunger forces me out of my shed and into the house. I start as early as possible – which, having four school-age kids, is rarely before 8:30 am. I stop mid-morning to grab a snack and then plough on until stomach pangs force me to stop. Usually, about 1:30 pm.
How many words do you aim to get down?
I’m a splurger – filling page after page with my spidery scrawl. That can be over 5,000 words if things are flowing. I’m happy with 2,500 to 3,000 though.
Longhand or straight-to-screen?
Longhand, in pencil, on a lined A4 pad. And I only fill the left-hand page. This leaves the opposite one free for later additions, amends and notes to myself. I find typing is too much of a temptation to produce perfectly formed sentences: it snarls up getting the story down.
Do you have a time when you’re most productive?
Mornings, as you’ll have gathered. After lunch, the urge vanishes. I’ll get a bit of plotting done, or some research, or I’ll start reviewing what I wrote in the morning. But new material rarely appears after I’ve eaten.
An internet connection – good or bad when you’re writing?
My glorified shed would make a prison cell seem luxurious. No internet connection, though I do have a PC that is only loaded with Word. No docking station, no radio and no landline. I keep a mobile with me in case school needs to get in touch, but that rarely happens. So really, it’s just me and the scratch-scratch of pencil on paper. Eventually, that’s offset by the sound of my stomach rumbling.
is by Chris Simms and is available on Amazon