September 01, 2020
While a lot of us are still isolated and working from home, we have had more time than usual to think about the spaces we’re sharing and how we interact with the places we inhabit. Liverpool-based publisher, Dead Ink have begun a series of Desk Dispatches, a kind of written and visual diary documenting and introducing the lives of their authors. We’ll be sharing these on a weekly basis and encouraging our Open Eye Stories audience to pick up a new book with the 20% discount code: openeye
Dead Ink are publishing Alison Irvine’s second novel, Cat Step in November 2020. She can be found on twitter @alisonmirvine.
This is where I write. I balance my laptop on a cushion I’ve taken from the sofa and I get about an hour and a half each day because the battery’s old or I end up needing to pee. My brother said it was a bit Mike Leigh to work in the car in full view of the neighbours (you can take the girl out of Essex) but do you know what, I don’t care. It works. I write. No wifi. Warmth. Quiet. And an interesting view. My kids came out once to give me a handwritten letter – a request that I watch Frozen with them later that day – but once I’d agreed they trotted back inside and left me alone. It feels different from working in the kitchen, say, where anyone could burst in and demand things. My husband works for a Scottish teaching union and is busy most of the day so I’m on duty for our three kids. But, the car. I like it. It’s good to be writing.
My dog has taken to sitting on my lap like a cat when I read. It’s relaxing for her and relaxing for me. I’m reading more now than I did pre-lockdown. I reach that wondrous hour of the afternoon when the pretence of ‘schoolwork’ is over and I let the kids loose on their electronic devices. I take a cup of tea and a book outside. The dog follows me. We’ve got a basement flat with a small garden and I am so glad of that. I did a socially-distanced book swap with a friend and she loaned me Bernadine Evaristo’s The Emperor’s Babe so I’m reading that just now. Before that I read Max Porter’s Lanny and before that Iris Murdoch’s The Sea, The Sea. I’m not sure what will be next. I read at night, too, and sometimes early in the morning when everyone is asleep – but not the dog. She always wakes up and follows me into the living room where she waits for me to settle then finds her spot on my lap.
I get up early to do the bits of work that don’t need car-concentration. The emails, the applications, the shorts bursts of writing, the tweets (it still takes me half a bleedin hour to compose a tweet). I look for jobs or opportunities to submit but have to admit that I have precious little time now. I am loath to use the car for anything other than cracking on with my next novel because I was given funding by Creative Scotland to write another book. But there are features I’d like to write or blogs I could post to promote Cat Step and my other books. My freelance work has dried up, like everyone else’s I’m sure, and a way of keeping anxiety at bay is to probe for more work or to write speculatively. The table is where I do all that.
By Alison Irvine