Making space – Penny Parkes

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By Penny Parkes

For years I’ve been somewhat of a writing nomad – relocating from sofa, to kitchen table, to coffee shop, even to the laundry room on occasion, in search of a little peace and quiet. My first novel – Out Of Practice – was written entirely on the children’s laptop and it seems crazy to me now, how I actually managed that without them accidentally deleting it! The very thought gives me shudders.♥

So you can imagine the excitement at home this summer, when it became increasingly clear that, to paraphrase Virginia Woolf, I was long overdue for a room of my own. Needless to say, there was much family negotiation involved, but for me the parameters were always clear: light, bright and airy, with a door that could close and a space beside me for The Ginger Ninja – my constant canine companion.

Now, there are some in the writing fraternity that might suggest a desk is a priority in these situations, but I would have to disagree, for I am a sofa-writer. Desks are fine for admin, for spreading out ideas, the occasional cut-and-paste of a physical edit and, of course, as a repository for my somewhat obsessive stationery collection. But the inspiration? That comes when I’m comfortably ensconced, feet up, coffee on one side, dog on the other…

There are a few ‘toys’ in my new writing room I confess: my lovely record player provides a crackly, emotional soundtrack as needed, and my little Dyson ‘desk’ fan is a true thing of beauty. I’m currently having a mental tussle with myself about whether a Nespresso machine needs to make an appearance, but am told that leaving my cosy room to walk to the kitchen is probably advisable from time to time! The jury is still out on that one.

And then, of course, there is the business of writing – the endless paperwork, contracts and statements – and here is where I have embraced rather than fought my personal inclinations. Knowing full well that I will never have all of this meticulously filed away and labelled, I have simply opted for box files by ‘topic’, so at least I can start looking in the right place when I need something!

I have also allowed myself a little shelf as a reminder of how far I’ve come – copies of Out Of Practice in English and German, the newly minted Practice Makes Perfect and, of course, the perfect crystal star from winning The Romantic Comedy Novel of the Year at the RoNAs. On the days when I wobble, and trust me there are plenty, I have only to look at that shelf to get myself on track, leaping back into Larkford and my fictional world of dishy doctors, dogs and devilment.


Penny Parkes lives in the Cotswolds. She has appeared at literary festivals around the country and has written for The Telegraph as well as extensively in her local media. Her latest novel, Practice Makes Perfect, is out now.

@CotswoldPenny

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