Have Laptop, Will Travel By Roisin Meaney
Today I am hosting the book tour for Roisin Meaney’s new book ‘Two Fridays In April’ and Roisin is chatting about her travelling and writing adventures.
Oops, I did it againâ€¦I booked me a trip â€˜foreign abroadâ€™. Not, I hasten to add, to lie in the sunshine reading books â€“ although there might be a very small bit of that going on from time to time. No, this is one of my writing breaks, the trips I like to take when Iâ€™m in the middle of a book, the trips that involve just me and the laptop. We up sticks and head somewhere on our own for a few weeks, usually to a place weâ€™ve never been, in order to give our uninterrupted attention to the manuscript in hand.
These forays serve a dual purpose â€“ they allow me to step off my usual social media treadmill (I generally pick a place thatâ€™s not served by the internet, and find a cafÃ© in the evenings for a half hour of email catch-up) and they shake up the writing purely by the act of taking me out of my comfort zone and plonking me into new surroundings, so the familiar routines have to be at least tweaked, if not done away with altogether. With everything a little bit different, it tends to affect the way I put words down on paper. Itâ€™s hard to define, but a move to somewhere new usually turns out to be a good move for the writing.
It hasnâ€™t always worked out. Last March I headed to Puglia in the south of Italy. Booked an apartment for three weeks in a medium-sized town called Monopoli. Installed myself and tried to writeâ€¦and it just didnâ€™t happen. The weather was far colder than I had been led to believe by the travel company Iâ€™d booked through; the apartment which would have been perfect in the summer months was woefully inadequate for winter, having big high-ceilinged rooms with no proper central heating. My first week I invested in a heavy jacket, fur-lined boots, a hot water bottle, fleece pyjamas and a sweater, and still I spent most of the time shivering.
Inevitably, the writing suffered: I went home when my allotted time was up with a pathetic word count to show for the break. On the plus side, my running improved no end â€“ it was one of the few things that warmed me up â€“ and I provided daily entertainment for the old Italian gentlemen who would gather each morning on the benches that overlooked one of the town beaches, muffled and swaddled in overcoats, hats and scarves, who would look at me in wonder as I ran past in my gear, calling out a cheery buongiorno! And Monopoli was really a lovely place, when I gave in after about ten days and decided to be a tourist instead of a writer.
Another time I went to France, to a village in the Montagnes Noir so tiny that it had no shop, bar or cafÃ© to its name: the main meeting place of the villagers was in the square each morning as they awaited the arrival of the van that sold bread and croissants. Good writing there, and five pounds of a weight gain in three weeks. (Good bread.)
The converted olive mill in Spain was good too â€“ a month there, a good half a book written by the time I went home. No weight gain, thanks to the beach a good three miles away which was far too beautiful not to visit it at least four times a week.
As I write Iâ€™m packing my bag for Lanzarote. As you read, Iâ€™ll be there. I plan to run in the early morning sunshine and write for the rest of the day, with maybe a swim towards evening and a glass or two of something convivial to accompany the sunset. I have high hopes of a big word count. Wish me luck.
You can buy Two Fridays in April from Amazon and is available to buy from good bookshops.
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