I’ve been writing. No, I have, really. I’ve been away for a fortnight, travelling on my own, and I’ve been logging in the hours.
But I’ve also been thinking. Writers spend a lot of time thinking. It’s often called procrastination…but it’s not, really. The fact is, the part of your brain that does the writing needs time to just…think.
Philip Hensher watches (often quite crappy) television. On a recent school visit, he told young fans that his partner says, ‘Why don’t you do something?’ and he says, ‘I am. I’m writing.’ And then his partner says, ‘You’re not writing. You’re watching Deal or No Deal.’
Fay Weldon, this autumn in conversation with Hilary Mantel, says she has written a book a year for…forever. But she spends most of the year, ‘Sitting there, not doing anything. I have to do that.’ She said, ‘I sit and mess about for about eight or nine months and then do the rest in a huge rush.’
Right now, I’m playing an awful lot of Bubble Witch Saga.
I’m thinking. I’m thinking about my place in the publishing industry, about what I want this book to do, about what kind of writer I really want to be. And I’m thinking about the nuts and bolts of the writing. And I’m thinking about things I’m not telling myself, but will come out in the writing.
And these are things I’ve learned while playing it:
1. ‘They’ want you to do something…in this case, pay for extra bubbles or lives or other help to play the game. ‘You’ want to play the game, but not spend your family’s hard-earned cash on Bubble Witch Saga. Your play takes place in the overlap of those two desires. This makes things more difficult, but you can’t help that. It’s all about integrity and who you are.
2. It’s never a good idea to start a ticking bomb. Sometimes it seems like an adequate shortcut, but it’s usually not. Shorting yourself on time is not a good strategy.
3. Sometimes you will lose. If you didn’t, it wouldn’t be any fun and you wouldn’t be pushing yourself hard enough.
4. If you quit a game, the witches get all upset. That doesn’t mean quitting isn’t the right decision.
5. The goal of the game is to burst the bubbles at the top. If you spend time doing anything else, no matter how satisfyingly creative, you will not win.
6. Sometimes you can’t win, and should use your time to get better at playing that level.
7. Fiendishly difficult situations are difficult to engineer, so once you find a way around them, you can get around them again.
8. Sometimes you can play beautifully but, because of the ways the bubbles bounce, you might not be awarded stars. This is about the bubbles and spiders, not you.
9. If you think about it, you can get your spiders lined up when your bubbles are ready to drop, giving you more of a chance at stars.
10. Friends are helpful. You need three to travel to a new level.