A transformational experience, writing

David Loughrey took a week off recently to become a writer, and noticed a rapid change in both his personality and his lifestyle. This was his experience.

By 10am, after rising early and putting in four hours of solid labour, my first word was complete.

It was a definite article.

It was the definite article, to be specific.

I had, by design or perhaps by happenstance, taken a week off to write fiction.

It was a first foray into full-time fiction writing, a situation in which I was on new ground, where new sets of behaviours began to emerge as my identity changed to reflect a new role.

It was transformative, and it happened very quickly.

I pushed my chair back from the keyboard, exhausted from my efforts.

The sun shone through the blinds, casting a shadowed grid on to the bookcase and highlighting the dust on a nearby mirror.

It was 10.03am.

I was looking at the dust, when I noticed the wispy goatee.

At first it could only be seen in the shadowed strips that crept ever so slowly across the glass surface, but it soon took a more definite form, floating in the air in an expectant sort of way.

It being there seemed somehow natural.

So natural, in fact, that I found myself stroking it as I considered the matter, pulling at it a little under my chin, where it now appeared to have settled and taken root.

It was about 8cm in length, and was flecked with grey.

It ended in a very satisfying point.

I twirled it between my finger and thumb.

I adjusted my glasses to have a look at it in the mirror.

I don't wear glasses, so the fact they now settled lightly but seriously on the bridge of my nose was quite unexpected.

Quite unexpected, but somehow natural.

I took them off and studied them.

They had small round frames,

and the corrective glass in

them was purple.

They fitted well when I put them back on my face, as though they had always been there, and the nose pads fitted comfortably into slight indentations in the skin, indentations formed by years of use.

Yet they had not been there in the morning when I woke.

It was all very strange.

So strange in fact, that I took my beret off and scrunched it nervously in my hands.

The beret smelled of pipe tobacco, with a hint of frustration and regret.

I had not owned a beret when I got up that morning, yet here it was.

It was black with a rim of satin, worn in parts from use.

I put it back on my head, adjusted the glasses on my nose and pulled lightly on the goatee, which had become slightly wispier.

It was 10.05am.

I felt slightly annoyed, but initially knew not why.

I had a feeling of slight resentment that niggled on the edge of my consciousness and ate away at me, demanding some sort in indefinable redress.

I had to write a letter, but to whom, and about what?

It was the insult that stung most.

Someone had insulted me, or more specifically my writing.

I was having a literary feud with another author.

I don't really know any other authors, so the fact I was in the middle of such a feud came as a slight surprise.

It seemed natural enough though.

I took my pen and angrily slapped a single sheet of writing paper on to my desk.

''You have mastered everything except language; as a novelist, you can do everything except tell a story; as an artist, you are everything except articulate,'' I wrote in a feverish rage, congratulating myself for the cleverness of someone else's prose, and excellent use of punctuation.

Those semi-colons would really burn.

I took the letter to the post office and sent it to Truman Capote.

I felt better, and would eagerly await some new outrage in the letterbox the next day, or perhaps in some sort of literary journal where our spat could continue.

I sat back at the keyboard, settled myself into my chair with my hands raised purposefully over the keys, when there was a knock on the door.

A tall man wearing a black duffle coat, a black shirt and black trousers thrust a bottle of pinot noir into my hands, pushed past me and stood in front of the bookshelf, making quiet mocking clicks with his tongue as he looked at each book.

An academic-looking fellow in a tweed jacket staggered uncertainly from the bathroom, and sat heavily in an armchair, where he sipped from a glass of whisky.

Three women with colourful outfits and horn-rimmed glasses drank pink champagne and squealed with laughter.

''We'll talk about books later,'' one yelled at me over the pipe smoke and general hubbub of what was now a full house.

I was having a writers' salon.

That was strange, as I hadn't invited anyone.

It seemed somehow natural though.

Although I knew none of my guests when they arrived, I gradually, by some unknown process, came to understand who they were.

That fellow was a poet, who spewed the most trite, hackneyed rubbish.

Over in the corner was an author, who thought such an awful lot of herself, but had written no new works for at least a decade.

And that tousled youth, over there by the bookcase, once talked up as the next bright young thing, was now little more than the most pathetic alcoholic, resting on the laurels of a career that had never really taken off.

How I resented them, particularly the ones who had enjoyed any level of success.

I returned to my study, and slowly the sounds of merriment and literary chatter receded to the back of my mind where they became muffled and indistinct, and then were gone.

A writer writes, I thought to myself, a writer writes.

It was 10.07am.

I settled back in my chair, stretched, cracked my knuckles, and began work on my second word.


Very nice. Sounds like you summoned the Wellington Group, 1953. Baxter and Ian Cross in there.