Workspace: Yes it’s my bed, plumped up with the spare room pillows. I do intend one day to buy one of those Y-shaped pillows designed for invalids – but in the meantime these do the job. To begin writing, I take off my dog-walking trousers, wriggle into position among the pillows, prop my laptop against my knees. The laptop sits on a chopping board with a cushion underneath. With this arrangement I can – usually – get myself into an ergonomic position with no strain – and thus avoid headaches.
But it’s not just to avoid headaches that I write in bed. I find, particularly when I’m on a first draft, that it feels fitting to write in the place where I also dream. After all, the two activities really aren’t all that distinct. For redrafting and editing, sitting up at a desk seems proper, more official. It seems sensibly attuned to the left hand side of my brain, my rational, critical, upright and properly-dressed self. However for the messy, unpredictable creative splurge I like to snuggle with blankets, hot-water bottle, tea – or hot chocolate when things get really serious.
Until recently I used to write my first draft long hand, which felt more of a natural bed activity, and only use the computer at my desk. But getting a laptop and finally becoming fluent with the keyboard means I do most of even my first draft on the screen. At least this way, with blessed Dropbox, sections are less likely to get lost. I used to spend hours searching through teetering piles of paper, notebooks etc., for the bit I know I wrote but couldn’t find.
Writing in bed is partly a sort of self-trickery, I think. After all, if it’s this comfy it can’t really be work, can it? If I hoodwink my body, my mind is usually taken in, particularly if chocolate digestives are involved. And anyway it’s true, writing a first draft isn’t work exactly – it’s a mixture of dream, play and discipline, best done well snuggled.
Publication date: 15 August 2017 | Hardback, £14.99
Set between 1989 and the downfall of Ceaușescu, and 2013, The Squeeze travels between Edinburgh, Romania and Oslo and see this multi‑award-winning and bestselling author at the height of her powers.
Marta, a teenager trafficked from Romania in the early 1990s is forced to work as a prostitute in Edinburgh. Mats, a Norwegian businessman, who longs only to be a good husband and father, becomes involved with Marta and both their lives are wrenched – for good or ill – in new directions.
Told in a splintered narrative style that allows glimpses into several points of view, The Squeeze explores the transactions that take place between men and women.
Sex, money and the desire for love, are at its heart.