2. Slowing down the passage of time. Each time I’ve written a novel is a huge landmark in my life. The children we had five minutes ago are growing far too quickly, but by this time next year it will feel like I wrote this novel a million years ago.
3. It made me take a break from the Xbox 360. Always a good thing. Mrs Theaker pin-protected my Xbox Live account, which helped.
4. Ending up with a new Stephen Theaker novel to read. I appreciate that others may be less enthused by this than me! I’m not a very good novelist, but there are few writers whose novels I like better than my own. I leave out all the stuff I find boring in books, and include all the things I love. Why else would you write a novel, if not to create the kind of book you want to read?
5. It got me listening to Radio 3. Never really done that before, and it turns out I quite like it. Not that I’ve become a fan of classical music, exactly. It’s more that it can so easily be ignored when writing or working, while still providing a buffer against the distracting sounds of everyday life.
6. It reinforced my sense of how brilliant my other half is. If I stayed up late writing, she dealt with the children in the morning and let me sleep in. She took an extra turn at the dishes. She put up with my grumpiness. (As did the children, who were exceptionally understanding and encouraging.) She was brilliant.
7. Getting ideas from the children. Whenever I talked to them about my novel, they were full of excellent suggestions, nearly all of which I incorporated. Of course, I take all blame for the inferior quality of the final product. You can’t spin lead into gold, but the reverse is quite possible.
8. There’s a cruel, malicious pleasure in knowing that however bad my novel ends up being, there are people writing seriously, taking years and sweating blood over their work, who won’t ever write anything half as entertaining as the book I just wrote in a month. I know, that pleasure makes me a bad person, but to get a novel written in a month requires the strength of all aspects of your character, not just the nice, fluffy bits.
9. This was the first novel I’ve written (it’s the seventh I’ve finished, after Professor Challenger in Space, Quiet, the Tin Can Brains Are Hunting!, The Fear Man, His Nerves Extruded, The Doom That Came to Sea Base Delta, and The Day the Moon Wept Blood) that I would be happy for my daughters to read. The others have all been from the point of view of men, most of them rather sexist, lecherous men. I think this is the first of those seven novels that would pass the Bechdel Test.
10. Attempts to justify not writing led me to reorganise my home office, and get rid of all the junk that had been clogging it up. There’s twice the floor space in here now, and half as many televisions.
11. Commercial writers suddenly becoming terribly precious about their writing. “Sixteen hundred words a day? The thought is simply dreadful! If I wrote more than two hundred words of Thoognoth the Unthoughtable: Assistant Lord Chancellor of the Middle Under-Realms XIII: The Jewels of Yesterday’s Tomorrow, Part II in a day my muse would desert me! Each word must be dragged screaming from my soul by hours of meditation and intense personal reflection! Oh, what’s that, you want me to write an email of encouragement to Nanowrimo participants? And there are how many of them? You don’t say! And I’ll be able to mention that Thoognath XII is now out in paperback? Well, I would be delighted! As I have always said, what a marvellous event this is!”
12. That it’s over for another year.