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My Day - Peter Bently
Monday, 30 November -0001
Posted On 2014-04-03 11:23:58 |  Last Update 2014-04-03 15:50:41 |  Read 4512 times | 0 Comments

To celebrate the release of our brand new brilliant series KNIGHTMARE we asked author Peter Bently to tell us how a typical day goes in his life...

MY DAY

Actually that should really be “one of my days” because there isn’t really a single typical day. It’ll be different in school holidays, for example, when I have to work around the children being at home. But this will give you some idea of what I get up to a lot of the time.

06.45  Get up, hastily shower and hurl on clothes.

07.00  Attain near-full waking consciousness.

07.15  Drive my 14 year old son one mile to pick up his lift to school in Exeter, 25 miles away. He normally gets the train, but at time of writing there haven’t been any trains for six weeks since the English Channel took a big bite out of the track. Hence hastily-organised combination of lift shares with friends (great) and regular buses (not great – they get there all right, but take ages and timings are dodgy for start of school). Not brilliant for the planet, all this driving. But HUZZAH! – the trains are arriving at the start of the Easter holidays. And even better than that, so is Life Stinks! the first volume of my new KNIGHTMARE series for Stripes.

07.30  Time for my 11 year-old-daughter to get up and off to school. She gets a lift too, but from the house. Her school is only a couple of miles away.

08.00  Breakfast. Cuppa. Maybe a bit of yoga. Probably not in that order. Attain full waking consciousness. Then my wife Lucy and I discuss the day’s admin. Organising things for the children. Bills to pay. Invoices to chase. A writer’s brain spends 25% of the time thinking of stories and 75% thinking of ways not to go overdrawn. (Useful inspiration for the character of Sir Percy.)

08.45–09.00  Check emails. Lucy will field many of them (such as requests for author events) – she’s a brilliant admin assistant as well as running Partners in Rhyme, our children’s theatre/storytelling company. If I need to reply personally, I’ll do it there and then, if it’s urgent or I can get away with a very short reply. I try to resist embarking on long emails first thing or my brain will start to fry before I’ve even written a single paid-for sentence. Also try to resist being drawn into interesting chat on Fitter and Twacebook. Often, I fail. Brain starts to fry at the edges. Hence, I sometimes skip this whole stage of my day altogether and slot it in later, when I’ve got some proper creative work under my belt.

9.30–1.00  Most mornings, I will take myself out of the house to go and write, leaving all electronic devices at home – sometimes even my phone. My equipment will generally consist of an A4 notebook and a pen. I find this is the best way to avoid being sucked into the endless maelstrom of procrastinatory distractions that are emails, social media, the internet, and being in the house generally. At home I tend to potter. My wife would say I am guilty of more pottering than J.K. Rowling.

I often trot up into town, a mere five minutes away, to work in a café. Totnes has LOADS of cafés. So many indeed that the goodly citizens stopped Costa opening up here. There are several I like for purely social visits, but few that are good to sit and write in with relative anonymity. My favourite for this is the Tangerine Tree, which combines a vibrant feel with quiet corners for scribbling. Oh, and great coffee too, of course.

Alternatively, I might load up with a flask of coffee and a snack and walk a couple of kms up to Dartington Hall, an arts centre (among other things) just outside Totnes. There are beautiful gardens and numerous indoor and outdoor nooks and crannies to sit and work. The centre of the place is an old medieval manor house, which is good for getting in the mood for writing KNIGHTMARE!

1.00-ish  Back home for lunch. (Sadly, lunch out is not a legitimate tax-deductible working expense.)

2-ish–5.30-ish  After lunch I may go out again to write, if I’m really on a roll. But more likely I’ll stay in at my MacBook and type up anything decent that I’ve written in the morning. When it comes to writing, I’m more of a morning person. Those three/four hours of creativity are crucial. Roald Dahl’s books were written in sessions of even less – just two hours writing a day. (The secret, he said, was to do absolutely nothing else in that time and remain firmly sitting on your bottom. A lesson to us all.) If I haven’t done so already, this is the time to face emails, update my website/Facebook page, and engage/indulge in any other Twittery-pokery and other social media stuff.

As I said, this is just one type of working day. Probably the most common, though it can vary a fair bit. If I’m pushing a deadline, say, I might need to work long hours. And there are other types of day that are pretty important too. Like days when I visit schools or libraries or book festivals, or travel to London to meet publishers.

I also spend a lot of time editing what I’ve already written. For example, I’ve just been working on the second and third drafts of the third KNIGHTMARE book, which is called Damsel Disaster. This involves going through all my editor’s comments and suggestions, making changes, polishing the text, cutting where it’s too long, and so on. My editor at Stripes, Katie Jennings, is one of the best I’ve worked with. She’s perceptive, sharp and imaginative and nothing much escapes her attention. After the inevitable frantic scurry of completing a first draft, it’s a pleasure to work with her to make the text even better. Hopefully the result is, as Sir Percy would say, “Splendid!”
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