Thursday 21 April 2016

Guest Post: Linda McLaughlan on writing in the car

TITLE: Chasing Charlie
AUTHOR: Linda McLaughlan
PUBLISHER: Black and White Publishing

PUBLICATION DATE: April 21, 2016

Amazon - Goodreads

When unlucky-in-love Sam bumps into her first boyfriend, the charming but roguish Charlie, she falls head first for him all over again. Even though he broke her heart, she's determined to win him back - even if she has to chase him all over London...

Sam's friends have their doubts about whether cheating Charlie is really the man for her, but they have their own problems to deal with. Uptight Mara is struggling to trust anyone after a bad break-up; sexy corporate go-getter Claudia has her self-confidence rocked after a health scare; and sensitive, intelligent Ed, has been secretly, hopelessly in love with Sam for years...

As Sam chases her lost love like a woman possessed, getting into ever more outlandish situations and making a fool of herself in the process, she finds herself wondering just how far she'll go to win Charlie back. Or will she finally see what's right under her nose?

Writing in My Car
by Linda McLaughlan

It happens time and time again – that look of shock on people’s faces when they find out that you write in amongst a busy life. Sometimes they can look amazed, but mostly they look just look pained.

‘How do you get the time?’ they say.

‘What about your job?’

‘And *gasp* you have children!’

I make noises of agreement. These things are all true. I have a job, I have children and you know what? Quite often that pained expression you have on your face right now, I have that inside while I try and juggle this crazy life with my love of writing.

But some things just have to happen, and for me and so many of you reading this, writing is as important as food. When I first made a commitment to take my writing seriously, I was home with babies. I didn’t have a job outside the house, so I paid for a few hours childcare a week and cracked on. But that time came to an end, and the real juggling had to start. How could I do it? After some trial and error, I came up with a solution. One day a week, my bum gets to sit on the nice comfy sofa at home and I write on my laptop, but most of the time, my writing is done in the passenger seat of my car, in a couple of inspiring locations, that I call my offices.

Number one is the college carpark office. During the week, after lunches are made and children are shoe-horned into their coats and shoved out the door, I drive to where I work at an arts college, to get there as early as I can. The college carpark is populated with disgracefully aging economical hatchbacks like mine, and my car feels very at home. If I get there early enough, I can poke the nose of my Polo into a hedge in a quiet corner.

For a long time, my preferred position was next to a lovely van that had been abandoned some months (possibly years). Being taller than my car, it was the perfect screen from the rest of the carpark. It had a whiff of Lady in a Van about it, although missing the lurid paint job. It was a faded forest green, all four tyres had given up, and by the time the college got round to removing it this autumn, wonderfully wild weeds had grown up all around it, almost to the height of the roof. Anyway, some well-scrubbed recovery truck did finally pitch up one morning, interrupting my writing thank you very much, and removed it with a disappointing level of efficiency.

As it gets closer to when lectures start, I try to ignore the cars pouring in and parking with breath-taking ineptitude, and beaver away for as long as I can get away with. Sometimes I get ten minutes to write, sometimes a whole, glorious hour.

Number two office is where I park up on a Saturday morning, on the weekends that I can get the time. This office has a precious feel to it, as I don’t see it that often. There aren’t many Saturdays when I feel I can walk away from the home job list, the tired saint of a husband who has been juggling his own work and parenting all week too, and of course two kids who I haven’t really seen that much since the previous weekend.

This one I call my South Downs office. It is a world away from college carpark office. No stream of grubby, badly parked hatchbacks here. I park under a knarled tree, with the nose of my Polo in the sun, if there is any. My view is of a farm gate and a field ringed with hedges. The human activity out my window consists of people on horses, in walking boots and in hordes of expensive looking bikes enjoying the South Downs Way.

When it is cold, I take a blanket for my legs. I have everything I need. Actually, I don’t have anywhere other than the woods to pee if I need to, but that’s another story. The most important thing for me is that it is quiet. I turn my phone off. I am alone. There is no internet. I have a small amount of time. I use it.

Chasing Charlie is out now.

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