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Have Laptop, Will Travel by Roisin Meaney

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Roisin Meaney

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Everyone I know hates me. They tell me as much, all the time. To be honest, I can see exactly where they’re coming from. If I wasn’t me I’d probably hate me too. Fulltime writer, no commitments apart from delivering the next book. No dependants to support, no partner to accommodate. Best of all – or worst of all, depending on your point of view – provided I can find the funds (and I’m afraid I usually can), there’s virtually nothing to stop me from kissing the cat goodbye, packing up the laptop and relocating to – well, just about anywhere, and just about whenever I feel like it, for as long as I decide. To all intents and purposes, I’m living every would-be writer’s dream.

See? You hate me now too. I understand.

roisin_meaney140x210Let me hasten to add that my trips are not always overseas ones. In fact, I’m as likely to hop into the car and fetch up at an Irish destination as I am to take my place in a Ryanair queue. Two years ago I spent a month on Valentia Island, off the Kerry coast. Since then I’ve been to Schull and Union Hall, two jewels of West Cork. It just so happens that this year I’ve chosen to spend the month of March in a slightly different location, one that’s a little more exotic, if not any lovelier, than Ireland. I’m in the south of Italy, down around the heel, in the region of Puglia to be exact. In the town of Monopoli, to be more exact.

And I’m really enjoying it. Apologies.

Monopoli is about the size of Ennis, and it’s by the sea. I’m staying in an apartment in the old part of town, and from my rooftop terrace I can see a chunk of the Adriatic, and most of the cathedral’s bell tower, and the ridiculously picturesque old port. I go running along the prom in the mornings, passing all the old signori sitting in their overcoats by the sea. I eat pasta and pizza and gelato with impunity. I go shopping for cheese and tomatoes and olives in the local market, even if I can understand about one word in every ten I hear from the stallholders. I nod and smile blankly, and they do the same when I open my gob.

If it makes you feel any better, the weather’s been iffy since I arrived. Brighter, certainly, than Ireland, with more blue in the sky, and more sightings of the sun. But the sun here ain’t that warm – I’ve had to buy a heavier jacket for when I want to sit on the terrace – and there’s plenty of cloud around too, and the other night we had the kind of thunderstorm I’d only ever seen in the cinema, usually featuring in a film with ‘storm’ in the title.

But it’s lovely here. And I’m doing it for the writing, of course. Writers really need to travel for the inspiration, right?

Wrong.

The thing is – and here’s where you’re definitely going to want to sling me off the nearest cliff – what I’ve mostly learned from travelling around is that being in a new place doesn’t necessarily make for a better book. It might add a bit of depth; things I see and do here in Monopoli will hopefully flavour some future tale – but in my experience, words come out when they’re good and ready, regardless of where the writer happens to be. It’s undoubtedly exciting to put yourself in a different space, it’s fun to be tapping the keyboard in an unfamiliar location, but I have yet to find the destination, however exotic or picturesque, that’ll shorten the route to a book. As far as I can see, creating characters and putting them into a story involves the same determined slogging and sleepless nights and interminable tweaking and deleting and rewriting wherever you are.

I hope I’m not putting new writers off here – in my experience, and notwithstanding the effort involved, there’s nothing as rewarding as that feeling you get when you’re knee deep in your characters’ lives, the story is moving along and you know that it’s only a matter of time and persistence before you reach that magical final paragraph – and oh boy, what a feeling that is!

So there’s really no excuse: you don’t have to pack a toothbrush and update the passport. All you need is to be receptive to your surroundings and open to the possibility of finding inspiration in whatever comes your way, and you have as much chance of producing good writing at your kitchen table as you do in a Donegal thatched cottage looking out at the Atlantic, or on the balcony of a Greek apartment that’s redolent with the scent of jasmine.

I know where I’d prefer to be, though. So I’ll continue to hit the road whenever the fancy takes me, and pretend it’s purely for the sake of the next book.

I’m a bit annoying like that.

Top five tips for starting a book:

  1. Get that bum onto that seat. Clear your schedule for an allotted time each day, be it as little as an hour. Make it a sacred time where nothing short of Armageddon disturbs you.
  2. Put something down on paper, or on the screen. If you’re seriously uninspired, write about whatever’s in your head – and there’s always something there. The main thing is, write.
  3. Become an eavesdropper. Listen, skulk, observe. And never travel without a discreetly-sized notebook.
  4. Don’t write with anyone in particular in mind, don’t think about who’s going to read it. Just write what wants to come out. And don’t try to write like anyone else: write like you.
  5. Read. Read. Read.

 

(c) Roisin Meaney

About After the Wedding

It’s the beginning of May on the island of Roone and Nell Mulcahy, having called off her wedding to the handsome Tim Baker, has finally admitted her love for his brother James – a love everyone else on the island recognised long before she did. Now Nell is setting off for County Clare, to a church overlooking the sea, to say ‘I do’ to the Mr. Baker she was meant for all along.

But when James and Nell return to their home after the wedding, they find Roone rocked by the disappearance of a young girl holidaying on the island.

As the summer progresses, and Nell and James navigate the ups and downs of life as a married couple – along with Tim’s return to Roone – the search for the girl continues. And the island residents discover that everything can change in a single moment. But will happiness be restored before autumn comes?

After the Wedding is published on April 3 2014 by Hachette Books Ireland – you can order online here.

About the author

Roisin Meaney was born in County Kerry in the west of Ireland, and has lived in the US, London and Africa. She began writing in 2001 while on a break from her teaching job, and her first novel, The Daisy Picker, won a Write a Bestseller competition and was published in 2004. Four years later she became a fulltime writer, and is currently awaiting the publication of her tenth book, After the Wedding. She has also written several children’s books, two of which have so far been published. On the first Saturday of each month she tells stories to toddlers and their teddies in her local library. She lives in Limerick city and is a fan of cats, chocolate and random acts of kindness.

www.roisinmeaney.com

www.facebook.com/roisin.meaney

Twitter: @roisinmeaney

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