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The List

Today is a good day.  The list has gone up today.

‘The list’ is a sacred piece of A4 paper on the kitchen wall.  On it is written the things we’ll do when Emlyn has finished his book.

Yes folks, the thriller is a week away from completion.

Actually, that’s not strictly true.  A book is only ever truly complete when it’s been published and there’s a whole race-track of hurdles to negotiate before that happens.

However, the most exciting part – the moment when the book has been wrestled from the ether and onto the page – is nearly upon us.  As soon, I’m informed, as the end of the week.

I’m having palpitations of excitement.

A writer must pick their champagne moment wisely, when the tangible sense of achievement is at its peak.  Waiting for ‘the call’ from an agent or publisher is too torturous.  Waiting for the cheque to be banked is foolish and by the time the book is in the shops, you’re beyond caring and have almost completed the next project.  So experience has taught us that the Herculean task of writing a whole novel must be celebrated, the moment the words ‘The End’ are typed, whatever the fate awaiting it.

I loved the bit in the second series of Californication, when Hank Moody, played so brilliantly by David Duchovny, finishes Lou Ashby’s biography and enacts his own personal ritual, involving whisky, weed and Warren Zevon.

I don’t know if non-writers would get the significance of that precise moment.  The moment of exhalation.  The moment when you know you can now officially be run over by a bus, because the words are down.

Most recently I’ve been the one in this position, but this time, I’m playing the supporting role and is it my clever husband who is the one burning the midnight oil getting to the finish line.  But it’s not easy being the co-pilot as the project comes into land.

We’ve hardly seen him as he’s upstairs in the furthest reaches of the house, having recreated the conditions of Chaucer in which to work: strictly no phone, no internet and practically no daylight as he rattles away on the pre-historic Apple Mac – a machine so old, it recognises the concept of a fax and not an email.

I’m on hand to towel down his forehead, squirt tea into his mouth, feed him nutritious food, give him the pep talk, focus him on wrestling the bugger down onto the canvas.  It’s tough stuff.

But now we can both see the light at the end of the tunnel, the list has gone up.  The magical world of real life opening up to us.

We’ll have childcare and for maybe an hour a day, free time.  A heady combination.

We’ve split the list into two.  Fun things we’ll do, house things we’ll do.  The things we fantasize about and the stuff that’s always on the mental to-do list.  It’s quite illuminating and after all this time, my husband can still surprise me.  Emlyn’s number one entry of house stuff he’ll do, is to creosote the shed.

Creosote the shed?  Is that what boys think about?

I look out of my study window every day at the shed.  I’ve never, ever noticed it needs creosoting. I kinda like its shabby-chic appearance.

But then I scanned across to the fun things.  Number one is to rig the TV up in the shed, so that we can watch the whole of Wimbledon in the garden.

Aha! That’s more like it.

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