I have a beautifully quiet workroom at home, but somehow the expectant hush in there raises the stakes intolerably, and I only use it in an emergency. Instead I put my laptop in my bag and make my way to a café which meets my needs for a steady background murmur of other people’s conversation, and decent coffee. Also, for tolerance of a gurning, teeth-picking, hair-twiddling, head-scratching man in the corner who sits for hours at a time, only buying Americanos. If anything, my present café is a little bit too white and bright and hipster-aspirational. There used to be one nearby that almost perfectly embodied my ideal of shabbiness and decay: but then it exceeded it, lost all its remaining clients, and closed.
So now I’m ensconced among coders and bike messengers and new mothers venturing out to meet their friends with tiny, tiny babies in slings. If I were a better human being, I expect I would be tempted to eavesdrop, but luckily my solipsism is great enough that I can treat the talk as a bath of lovely white noise, in which (I don’t know why) I can usually find the thread of whatever I am thinking about. 400 or 500 words is an OK day, 700 or 800 words is a good day, and anything over 1,000 words is an astonishing, greased-lightning, festal superfluke of a day.
Francis Spufford’s first novel Golden Hill won the 2016 Costa Prize for a debut novel.
To read other authors share the ways in which they go about their work, click here to read the full article from this week’s Spectator
Subscribe to The Spectator today for a quality of argument not found in any other publication. Get more Spectator for less – just £12 for 12 issues.