As someone still at the start of a writing career and struggling to find my feet in what can be as thankless a milieu as the acting profession, I can sympathise with Cyril Connolly's assertion about the pram in the hall although my "sombre enemies" take a different form, not least because I've never had, or wanted, a pram in the hall or anywhere else.
I've no doubt all writers have distractions. While I'm clear that mankind will not be robbed of anything great if I am visited by the equivalent of the man from Porlock (in my case, it's more likely to be the man from UPS wanting to leave a parcel for a neighbour), I sometimes wish that I could relax on a chaise longue, like Barbara Cartland (with her sales too), a secretary at my feet taking down my deathless prose and some invisible person dealing with cleaning out the fridge and getting up at 6am to put out the recyclable elements of my rubbish. I fantasise about being a writer-in-residence but, with my luck, it's less likely to be at The Savoy than at Mrs Miggins Doss House on the Old Kent Road. No, I must face reality, leave aside the Cartland false eyelashes and pink chiffon and just deal with the jumble of irritations that life delivers to us all.
The past twenty eight months have been particularly difficult with both my parents spending time in hospital and both of them becoming frailer in the aftermath of their respective illnesses; in addition, building renovations in Wales have caused a great deal of stress, friction and expense. I've also become increasingly aware of the need for major renovations at my own home but I've been daunted by the scale of the work to be done and the fact that I would have to move out of my home for an extended period. Each time I've thought the worst was over and I could think calmly about practicalities, some new ogre has reared its head and I've found myself in yet another battle.
The short story competition at the West Coast Eisteddfod last year was something new for me; I had never written a proper short story before and my entry "The Last Cottage" was delivered late in the day. I had no hope of winning anything so I was astonished to be awarded first prize. So now everyone can blame the judges at the Eisteddfod for my forthcoming book of short stories - it's all their fault, folks!
Given all the distractions of the past two and a half years or so, I suppose I could be forgiven for having forgotten that I'd started to write a short story just over two years ago. I came across it on my PC while I was looking for something else and struggled to remember even starting it. At last, I recalled that I'd spent a night in Shrewbury on my way home from Wales to London after that Christmas holiday and I'd been struck by the appearance of a woman on the train from Shrewsbury to London. I'd written only a few paragraphs before ordinary life intervened and it became hidden in my documents folder. Now it will be part of the book "Other Stories". I don't know if other writers are so careless as to forget what stories they've written - it would be nice to believe I'm not alone!
Writers have the advantage over actors in this computer age in that they can publish their own works at low cost and publicise them over the internet. For the most part, actors remain at the mercy of directors/producers/casting agents/moneymen; writers can at least get their work into the public domain, even if no one chooses to read it. In between my monthly visits to Wales, where I do my best to be of practical use to my parents, I have managed to organise a cover for the second book in The Carmarthen Underground series, submit the book itself for editing and do any necessary re-writing. I've also been re-writing and polishing the book of short stories, for which I've provided my own cover, and I've started this new website. By no means the output of Alexander McCall Smith (in either quantity or quality), for example, but I don't suppose he does any housework. When would he have the time? If he's not in Edinburgh, he's in the Caymans, Botswana or Australia - I'd feel lucky to get to Pontrhydfendigaid.