This is the latest instalment in an occasional series of blogposts, in which some of our authors and illustrators share their favourite working spots. Today Roald Dahl Funny Prize-shortlisted author Simon Puttock, whose latest picture book, Mouse’s First Night at Moonlight School, is out this month, explains his lack of a fixed writing abode…
Hang on, I know this one. I’ve been asked it before. Quite often in fact. Give me a minute and… Dear, sensible reader, you’d be forgiven for imagining that after years of being asked this very selfsame, by now I’d have had the nouse to cobble together some simple, convenient and acceptable (nay, even unto enchanting) untruth: in my special study full of magical wordy-elves, or under a tree in my garden where the story pixies do so delightfully frolic and play, or, just possibly: in a donkey shed in Connemara (no further explanation shall be forthcoming). But alas, a nigh on fatal combination of natural truthfulness and innate fecklessness mean that I have done no such thing, no indeedy. But I have now been asked ever so politely, and to put it in writing to boot, so heigh ho, and here I go.
If I am working now, then I work in bed: so long as we can agree that working consists largely of doing thinking in my head. (Later, I am typing this, and I am not in bed, but sitting on a sofa.) And if it is allowed that thinking in my head is work, then I work everywhere and/or anywhere; my brain, bless its little polycotton socks, is apt to wander off at the drop of a hat (why is it always a hat?) and start doing thinking heretofore a.k.a. work.
And now, as I went back and mentioned earlier, I am sitting on the sofa doing the manual labour part of my job. But sofas are by no means the only places where I roll up my sleeves and really start to produce the sweat of honest toil. This too can happen in diverse circs.: almost never whilst standing up: usually whilst seated and occasionally supine – more rarely prone; rarely out of doors or near water (bathrooms are absolutely out, and having once left my work at a desk under an open skylight in inclement weather, never again) but sometimes on buses and, like most writers (and half the travelling population, it seems) these days, on trains; dining rooms and sitting rooms are conducive, and bedrooms are possible. Drawing rooms, when available, are good. Kitchens are probably best for poetry, so I use them seldom. I have not attempted greenhouses, conservatories, sculleries or larders. Dear reader, does this suffice? I hope so because I have run out of all but the smallest of rooms.
I was asked to provide a photograph of my workplace. You will now understand how an tall order that is. Instead, do you remember the old BBC 2 test card? I’d like you to think of that: it seems somehow appropriate. Music most anodyne will probably also spring to mind. Feel free to hum along. Perhaps you might now like to imagine that you are in a lift. I am imagining that I am in a lift too. But it’s not the same one. And I am definitely not doing any work in it.
Mouse’s First Night at Moonlight School is out now – you can take a look inside below, or order the book online here.