Let me paint you a picture.
Something which may have happened Tuesday lunchtime this week.
A bespectacled man in his early forties sits down in one of the many Pret A Mangers in The City of London. He’s purchased a can of lemonade and nothing more. (But even that’s just for form, buying it essentially to buy his table space.) He isn’t there to have tasty freshly made sandwiches. He isn’t there for a business meeting, or to chat to friends. He is there to start rewriting his new novel.
Under his arm as he walked in was a black laptop bag. Inside the bag is his bright red Sony laptop and four pages of A4 lined paper, stapled together and covered in his blocky scrawl. These aren’t just any old scribbled pages though, these aren’t just random notes. At the top of the first page is the legend: ‘Chapter One’.
Recently his process has changed. Hitherto he’d written everything straight into the computer, trying to hit the grand total of 2,000 words every day. He was a single man the last time he finished writing a novel though, and he knows to get it done now is going to require some alterations.
Since the end of February he has been making use of his commute, making use of his lunchtimes – writing really rough drafts of chapters in a little notepad and getting to the end of the story that way. Then going through each and rewriting them all in an A4 pad. Starting to polish them, strengthening the themes, trying to more fully realise the characters. Putting it all into a more legible hand.
Once he’d finished that he put it away for a month/six weeks (actually a bit longer than he’d have ideally liked) while he finished up some other writing projects.
But now his focus is fully back.
He is writing the next draft of the book, typing it this time, moving it ever closer to the final product.
Whether anyone else in that Pret can guess what he’s doing he doesn’t know and doesn’t really care. Perhaps the excitement that buzzes off him marks him out as not just the normal city worker getting a change of scenery from his desk, maybe he even silently mouths a sentence when he really likes it (he thinks he catches himself doing that once or twice).
It doesn’t matter if they do notice him though. He’s back Wednesday and Thursday lunchtimes doing exactly the same, getting through the second and third chapters, trying to punch things up as he goes, making notes on things he could improve in the future. He doesn’t care what anyone thinks. He just knows he is making progress and it makes him so happy. Only spending time with his wife and daughter is any better.
The man looks up, maybe allows himself to beam a big smile and then takes a long sip of lemonade. The rest of the world inconsequential while he’s there, he ploughs on.