Posted by: Corri van de Stege | September 25, 2008

Write on Wednesday – Driving back is becoming a habit

Am I detail oriented in my writing?  What are the details I notice in the world around me? What details do I like reading about?   These are some of the questions asked by Becca in Write on Wednesday this week

Mmmmmm    Sometimes I forget what my writing is about or rather what I think I am meant to be writing about.  That happens in the rush of things.  I keep my journal, I write,  or rather I try to write, while on the road I notice many things and think about many things, which I then record in my notebook.  I think about my novel, sometimes during the week I even manage to write additional chapters or develop characters further.  That’s on good days.  Other times I simply day-dream about all the things I will write and meanwhile I carry on with a heavy workload, with my day job, as Becca does. 

Yes, I like novels and I like to read novels that develop their characters in such a way that they are actually alive and that’s what I try and do with my own writing.  Whilst moving about during the day, and never finding the time to work on my characters, I think about them and wonder how I can translate what I think about them into real words on a page…  I also like to let my imagination go free and I live with my characters and I try to imagine what things are like for them, like my own character – and then I write:

……. Last night I drove back again, in the car.  I had been on one of my jobs, one of those assignments that required an overnight stay, or two overnight stays, in a hotel.  It had become quite a routine, the slight tension in my stomach, packing my overnight bag, again.  Half of the stuff is already in there, in a case in the spare bedroom,  ready.  But then, like every other time, I am worried about what clothes to take this time: what will I take, will it be warm, wet, cold, dry?   Do I want to pack my gymbag, will I have the time or opportunity?  My feet are cold and my face has that funny distanced look when I scrutinise myself in the mirror.

I throw everything in the boot of my car, the gymbag, overnight bag, my computer bag, an extra bag with more papers and reports, a cool-bag with enough fruit and water (small bottles) for a fortnight and for good measure I chuck in one of those small bottles of wine – the ones that don’t make you feel bad, because you drink within the allowed limits for females, less than two small glasses –  so that I don’t have to go to the bar when I arrive, late and tired, after eight o’clock at night, and when all I want to do is just to stay in my room and not face a 20-year old behind the bar, who looks at me and clearly wonders what an old woman is doing drinking this time of the night, on her own.  I go through this routine every time again, loading the boot of my car, cursing myself when I come back home after two or three days, and when I have to  unload most of it and haul it all back into the house, tired and disorientated after a five hours’ drive, or longer.  Usually, the car looks as tired and grimy as I feel so I take it to the car wash the next Saturday.

Last night I started my return journey when it was light, the air was still warm and cosy, enveloping me, full of promise and sweetness, soft and comfortable like duck’s down in a duvet, pillows soft and comforting, the enchantment of a full night’s sleep without disturbance.  It had been one of those September days that had been warm and so unnoticed, one that I had lost whilst I sat in a boardroom discussing a report with a steering group, listening to fears that had been called up by words in my report, watching the lines being drawn on faces, the smell of cut sandwiches mixed with warmth transforming itself into something stale and watery as the afternoon progressed.

I got in my car and concentrated on the late afternoon light and the swish of cars homing – don’t crash, I don’t want to end here anonymously – while the sky transformed into grey and aloofness and then darkness and the world around me became black with sharp red tail lights, challenging me, forcing me to follow and concentrate.  I showed my mastery of this world, followed the masculine red lights, daring and challenging, and knew I would once more come throug this trip.  Until the next one.



  1. I love the way you “showed” rather than “told” the answer to the questions I posed…you used details so beautifully in this piece, and they did their work perfectly, pulling me right into your life so I felt myself in that anonymous hotel, that dry boardroom, and into your dusty car.


  2. Your last two paragraphs in this entry are particularly beautiful and lush and great reading…”and the lines drawn on faces, the smell of cut sandwiches mixed with warmth …” and “showing mastery of this world, followed the masculine red lights” …. great stuff, Seachanges.

  3. yes, it was one of those weeks… routines and then that feeling there was somehting else I needed to catch, in words. Thank you for your comments.

  4. A lovely post – lovely, detailed writing of your week. I was there with you!

    You said: “I also like to let my imagination go free and I live with my characters and I try to imagine what things are like for them, like my own character – and then I write.”
    That is a great way to get to know your characters – not easy to do, but I think it is really necessary to flesh them out into real people.
    I hope you are having a pleasant weekend, after a long week!

  5. qugrainne: lovely to have you alongside! And yes, the weekend is picking up as I go along… almost gone now.

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