For a while, when I worked at Waterstone’s, I was in charge of the front of shop areas where the big shiny displays are. Once every two months there was a massive changeover where the promotions were moved, books taken off the shelves and replaced with new ones, and brightly coloured point of sale proclaiming 3 for 2 offers, money off and various slogans changed. A small team of booksellers did this for two hours after the shop closed, 7-9pm on a Wednesday.
There was a point in the evening, usually around 8.30, that wherever you looked chaos reigned. Books were on the floor, shelves were empty, posters were everywhere and people were running about. It seemed like we would never finish on time. There was still so much to do. Every changeover was the same. And yet, miraculously, we did. That was always the low point and from then on everything clicked. 9pm and we’d be pulling on coats and preparing to leave, with just a few last minute tasks for the next day’s early shift.
That’s pretty much where I am with the novel. In the last week I’ve gone through being confused, inspired, thoughtful, frustrated and ultimately determined but I think I see where to go next.
It’s here where I think I could really do with a retreat. That’s a physical retreat, not any other kind. A cottage in the middle of nowhere is the writer’s favourite isn’t it? A week is probably too long for me to avoid going stir crazy but four days somewhere alone with my laptop sounds good. But it isn’t going to happen so I’ll continue where I started – in the spare room after work every night.
To revert to corporate jargon for a second, the planogram is finally in place. Chaos is still reigning. But I’m about to take over.