Late, at bedtime, she gives me that pleading look. Are you coming to bed? she asks, but my face is turned to the screen and I’m tapping very fast, on a roll and determined to empty my mind of the scrolling words within it.
Yes, soon, I promise. Let me just finish this. Two and a half hours later, with the words still unfinished but my arms tired, my eyes watering and my lap reddened by laptopheat, I shall collapse into bed beside her, and she’ll be too sleepy to notice.
Other times, too. At weekends, when there’s work to be done in the garden and children to entertain and DIY to be D’d, I’ll turn a pained eye to my computer, desperate to have a quick session, my brain humming.
In the shower, where everybody gets all their best ideas, I’ll make up lyrics and rhythms while I wash. But my mind is on things I must write.
Out and about, pushing the pushchair or the supermarket trolley or browsing the shelves in the library, ideas will pop into my head like advertisements – annoying, repetitive, and very occasionally inspiring. I’ll whip out my mobile and record an audio note to myself about them. Then all I need to do is remember to listen to the audio notes.
But most frustrating of all is when I have successfully gained some precious, dedicated, must-write-now time. Sometimes I will have escaped to a conducive cafe or pub, more often just to the spare bedroom. I might have two entire hours, perhaps a whole afternoon, in which to pour out everything on my mind. These occasions, my mind switches off. The screen remains blank; I end up surfing dull weblogs and catching up on email.
Times passes. My writing session ends, with little or nothing written. Later that day, while doing household chores or tidying up the daily mess of toys, inspiration will return: insistent, demanding and just generally poorly-timed.