The next writer in our series is Himanjali Sankar. Inspired by Roald Dahl’s writing space and routine, we have been asking our writers to tell us about their writing schedule.
Himanjali Sankar is the author of The Stupendous Timetelling Superdog, the sequel to which will be out in early 2014.
I write on weekends and late into the night at home–that is the one time the doorbell does not ring, the girls don’t shout, my husband does not complain about the dog I have failed to train, and my mother does not call to say whatever she would have already told me the day before. Yes, her memory is worse than mine or what mine will be in thirty years so our phone conversations are mostly repeats of previous ones. Which is comforting as patterns always are but not when I am writing. I totally HATE being disturbed when I am writing, It makes me feel the same way as I do when the alarm goes off at 6.40 am every morning. Disoriented and befuddled and annoyed.
I also enjoy writing when I am travelling alone. I have written in aeroplanes and once on a Shatabdi that was running late for six straight hours. I prefer to write for at least an hour at a stretch. I have self-imposed deadlines in my head which are somehow sacrosanct so if I get desperate I do bits and bobs whenever I can. I would love to write in a cafe though – it would make me feel all writerly but to be able to take time out to go and sit in a cafe seems quite wonderful and impossible given the way my weekdays are structured around a day job, followed by evening chores like grocery shopping, dog walks, kitchen duties and pick-and-drop services for my daughters from their various activities.
But in my head I live the life of the perfect full-time writer. I have a study room of my own. I hammer words into my laptop which is placed against a large window that looks out on to green rolling fields. I have rows and rows of books alphabetically placed in bookshelves that line every free wall space. The room is cluttered and warm, and the house is empty–my children and husband are far away somewhere, happy with mathematics and data analysis and important subjects like that. Only Rousseau is with me, transformed into an understanding and calm canine who does not cover my clothes with slobber and dog hair or push my laptop off my lap to place his head there instead.
But in my perfect full-time writer’s life the phone does ring. It is Vikram Seth, wanting to discuss his writer’s block. Damn all suitable girls, I commiserate. And then I get back to my writing once more, to my laptop which is placed against a large window that looks out on to green rolling fields.