Hoi Yee: In the first year, we had trouble even managing to get together to write. We had both purchased a new flat around the same time and each of our flats needed to be extensively renovated. Surrounded by rubble, workers and chaos, we couldn’t write in either place.
Coincidentally, the cosy function room at the Fringe Club, where we had been meeting with our writing group for several years, was also under renovation!
Out on the street like lost cats, we tried venue after venue; an African café – but the drum beats were so loud we couldn’t hear each other speak; a club library, where a new House Rule banned the use of laptops; a recreational centre, where the ferocious clanking of mah jong blocks constantly broke into our trains of thought. We even tried our offices, but the phones never stopped ringing!
Finally, both our homes were finished and we opted for Julia’s study. There, amidst birds, books, and dogs, we have settled into a writing routine. Three times a week, we get together. We sometimes find it hard committing to such a strict schedule, but, no matter what, we keep to it, for fear that if we don’t we’ll never finish the book!
Julia: I was concerned, at first, that writing at home would be difficult. But, now, Hoi Yee and I have things down to a fine art; our mobile phones are switched to silent, boxes of snacks are constantly refilled and placed on our writing table to sustain us till lunch-time, no-one ever drops in for a visit, or even comes to greet us when they arrive home. We really do have periods of complete quiet.
We usually have a quick lunch, and make it a point not to talk about the book. Instead, we chat about what else is happening in our lives; our children, pets, holidays, husbands and business. Then, feeling revitalized by the break, we go back to the study to continue writing.
Some days are more productive than others. There are times when getting one paragraph “right” takes a whole morning. At other times, brainstorming an idea may take us a couple of hours. There are days, when the writing just flows; our thoughts meld, our expressions please both of us and we finish more than we’d anticipated.
Each writing session has its own rhythm. When it’s cold, the heater is on, and we’re wrapped up warmly in layers of woollen sweaters with dogs at our feet. When it’s hot, we work in bathing suits with all the doors thrown open and a breeze coming up from the South China Sea to cool us.
Meeting regularly each week keeps us motivated – and, hopefully, will enable us to finish our book.