In the Swim – Writing in unusual places


Last week, I wrote some of my current novel during my son’s swimming class. I didn’t take a laptop into that steamy, splashy atmosphere; I took my notebook. In between glaring at my son when he was going underwater instead of listening to the swimming teacher, I was scrawling away at an important scene.

I usually write directly onto my computer, but I’ve always enjoyed using my notebook. I love the actual process of writing; the formation of the letters, and the way you can add an extra curl to the tail of a ‘y’ or a ‘g’ when you’re thinking. Often, when I’m really involved in a story, I will start my writing day early, with a giant cup of coffee, sitting up in bed to write in my notebook. In summer, I have the curtains open so I can glance out to see the trees against the lightening sky. As the days begin to draw in, I need the light on. But it’s always cosy, sitting up in bed with the duvet pulled up, just my characters and me. My poor partner, meanwhile, is out with the dog in that darkness, for which I thank him wholeheartedly – my precious morning routine would not be the same otherwise.

After the routine of breakfast, clothes, homework tasks and dropping my son off at school, I usually begin my working day proper by typing up what I’ve written in my notebook that morning, then carry on writing on my computer. But for the past few weeks I’ve been experimenting with leaving my notebook material where it is, in my notebook, and continuing where I left off on my computer. This means, of course, that at some later date I will have lots of tedious typing to do, but I do think I’ve been more productive as a result. The story is flowing more, and I’m not tempting to go back to edit.

It’s swimming class night again tonight. Where will my characters take me this time?

And if you write, where’s the most unusual place you’ve written in? I’d love to know!

Twitter: @margaretkaj

Facebook: Margaret K Johnson Author



Fashioning a year of challenges

My year of taking part in challenges continued on Tuesday evening when I was one of 13 volunteer models in a charity fashion show in my home town of Norwich.

The show was organised by Sarah Morgan, who is an Image Consultant. As part of her work, she helps clients to weed out their wardrobes. Sarah found that the pile of discarded impulse buys was growing taller than she was, and decided she wanted to do something really worthwhile with these clothes. So Sarah Morgan Charity Fashion Sales was born.

“Wear your best knickers!” was Sarah’s advice to us before we went down to the restaurant on Monday evening where the fashion show was to take place. “The changing will be very communal.” It was. But fun too. Thirteen women sorting through shelves to find 4 outfits each, then trying them on and waiting to get Ms Morgan’s approval. “Too drab! You need more colour.” “No, that’s far too big for you.” “Try this; you won’t recognise yourself.” Sarah Morgan showed very little stress as she dealt with us all.

Next evening, us models duly reported for duty, a bundle of excited nerves as we waited to have our hair and make-up done and rehearsed how we were to move through the room to show off our outfits. By 7.15pm, the place was packed, and Sarah began her talk about how the fashion show idea had come about and the two charities she had chosen to receive the profits – The Big C and Stonham Women’s refuge. Then it was time for us to perform…

I was in the final group of 4 models to go in. When it was my turn, Sarah introduced me in this way: “Here’s Margaret K Johnson, a famous novelist.” Thank you, Sarah! Hopefully one day.

The evening was a huge success – it was totally packed out, the models were received by enthusiastic applause, and, most importantly, £3000 was raised for the two charities.  It was also a whole lot of fun.

And me? Well, the experience has got to go into a book, hasn’t it? Watch this space.

Here’s the link to see a picture of Sarah and us models just before the show.

Click on the image to buy from Amazon

Click on the image to buy from Amazon