Updated: Jul 5, 2022
Read all about the process of writing my book...
I love being comfy when I'm writing. Coffee is a must - I cannot function without a coffee in the morning. If I am at home, I have a habit that I picked up from being on the road travelling - ground coffee, hot water, and a sieve. I sieve the coffee through into a tin mug. I absolutely love that this reminds me of India, and I'm not sure I will go back to any other method. It is a sweetness, a lovely memory of mornings with my partner, or alone in the mountains, pouring the grounds into the plants, or using it as a body scrub against the harsh desert pollution. Having a coffee gives me time to myself that I would not otherwise take.
I sit in all sorts of odd positions because I seem to now be a mix of Eastern and Western, owing to my time in India. I often sit with one leg up pulled up close to my chest, shoes off (usually barefoot) in the comfiest clothes I can find. For many months, in the winter, I wrote whilst in pyjamas, as I am sure many writers will admit to. My bum often goes totally numb - I am not great at taking breaks when I am in flow, but I am learning. I put on weight when I'm in the book writing process, all energy going into the process and nothing else. I become a little bit of a hermit, but it is essential- like a butterfly emerging from a cocoon, I will go and visit family and friends, and travel to new places. But i've not yet managed to juggle both. It will come.
As a teacher, I learnt about Maslow's Hierarchy of Needs - the idea that when your basic needs are met (such as light, sound, comfort, warmth) then you can be the best version of yourself. I like soft lighting, usually lamps, or near a window, with a table which is at a good height. The chair is essential - if it's a terrible one, I will sit on the floor. For this reason, once I've found a good cafe or somewhere to write, I will make it my home - there was only one spot where I liked to write in Pushkar, Rajasthan, among so many, but it was open-air and brilliant, monkeys faffing about on the railings, a temple below to inspire me with devotional music, and great, great coffee. I've got the world's worst laptop - a small thing, it is excellent for travelling but slower than a snail on a Sunday. A small boy burnt it in India, by placing a tealight behind it accidentally. The whole thing caught on fire, but it still works, miraculously. I hope to upgrade soon, but it has been with me all this time, through the whole process. I actually bought it to write the book- an incentive, it cost me just over one hundred English pounds, and was the step I needed to take to get the book started. I had been writing on the notepad of my phone- little bits of prose, poetry, insights on where I had been - and realised that I had so, so many. When someone in the mountains asked me if I would ever tell my story, I knew it would be a process to transfer it all over, and it was.
Once I had the poetry and prose, they became building blocks for my journey. Some places cannot be described without lyrics, I feel. As a songwriter, it is the easiest form of writing for me, but merging the written accounts with prose and poetry was how I had envisaged Waiting For Mango Season, anyway. I think India deserves a sensory description, as this is her at her best. It simply would not be the same story if i had focused only on the adventure.
There were days when it was impossible to write. It was too hot, too cold, we had no connection or wifi at all, the rains came and made the rooftops inhabitable, or the flies were covering my laptop. India was always a challenge, but it only taught me greater patience.
Some days, my travelling days, meant that I went days without electronics, meaning I had to resort to pen and paper. As a songwriter I personally always preferred this, but I realised quickly that when penning adventures and experiences, my hands can type as fast as my brain, but cannot scribble nearly as fast. This was a frustrating experience as my hands and head tried to talk to one another, and so I had to rely on my memory for a lot. Thankfully, My memory of these places was strong - many details will stay with me forever, because I had never seen anything like them before in my life. It is easy to remember magic.
I still have a hundred notes on my phone. Lyrically, they are titbits, prompts, little phrases and gems that will never make it into Waiting for Mango Season, but the process remains the same. Quickly grabbing my phone to scramble my thoughts into a little vault sometimes results in entire chapters. I have often been known to just rush out pages and pages without any edits, as it flows out of me like a river. This is when I know it will be good stuff. This is when I know it is authentically, absolutely me, when my mind and heart are connected in a single process, which is to release and explain and describe.
Do you have a specific writing process? Is there a place you love to be, or something specific that you need? Sometimes if the writing will not come, it is because something in the environment is lacking. My advice is to create your own little bubble of a world, open a blank page, and go. And always have something on hand for when ideas strike - especially when you're on a motorbike Love, El. xx