A full time job. Two kids age 6 and 1, as beautiful as they are annoying, wanting to spend every waking moment either wrestling me or kicking a ball at me. It’s good, actually, it’s what I signed up for. Though, there is that thing I must do when I have a minute or two to spare. Must write that book. It’s just a matter of when and where.
Evenings are no good, too exhausted, unable to piece together a comprehensible sentence, let alone write in prose! It’s not going to happen. I’ve tried, I have. A splash of cold water on my face, a strong coffee, and sat down on the sofa with my laptop open and the cursor winking at me, raring to go. One glance around my living room and all good intentions fall away. Littered with Lego and balls and toys that seem to come alive and sing to me on their own accord. The television doesn’t help. Netflix, Sky, brilliant BBC drama’s all playing their part in distracting me. I tried writing upstairs in the bedroom. No television, no mess, no distraction. No problem. On my big comfortable bed, laptop at the ready, fingers flexed, ready to unload all that good stuff that’s been knocking around in my head. Hundred thousand words, here I come. But first, let me just adjust my pillow. Let me just slouch down a little. Let me just pull the duvet up to my chin and just for a second, let me close my eyes... Yeah, that’s not going to work.
So, not only haven’t I got time to write. I haven’t got a place to write.
I figured that I have five lunch breaks in my working week. Each an hour long. So that’s five hours. On the weekend, my eldest cashes in his iPad vouchers whilst my youngest disappears for an afternoon nap. That’s another four. Those nine hours are fixed, they are mine. Not enough, but enough. Now for somewhere to write. I tried the local library, but it always seemed to be full of students with passion and an energy that just exhausts me. I eventually came across a small coffee shop. The staff polite, a little small talk but not overly familiar like a chatty hairdresser.
I’d order my coffee and settle into a cosy armchair, behind it a power point to keep my laptop juiced up. There was a good crowd there, a mixture of old and young, couples and families. A few, like me, by themselves, typing away furiously on their laptops. It’s a writer’s dream to be able to people watch, and here was a mixture of all walks of life, where I, behind my screen, would observe and be inspired by. But if there is a problem to be found, rest assured I’ll find it. I was spending an obscene amount of money on complicated coffee, picturesque croissants and the Devils food. Cake! And as for the people watching, it turned out people don’t like to be watched. It makes them uncomfortable. I was back on the hunt for a place to write.
I found it by luck, and it was unexpectedly perfect. I was on School Run duty, and I had reached my son’s school with thirty minutes to kill. I reached for my laptop and started to make notes, uncomfortable at first, I soon adjusted. It turned out to be a very productive thirty minutes. I was onto something here. The next day on my lunch break, rather than find a table and chair and expensive coffee, I found a beautiful green. I parked my car, moved over to the passenger seat and pulled it right the way back. I cracked open the window, kicked off my shoes and switched on the radio, just loud enough to keep me company but not enough to disturb me. With home prepared, free coffee sitting in the cup holder, I reached across for my laptop. And with the world outside my windscreen, I started to write.
Six months later, the first draft of East of Hounslow was complete.
East of Hounslow by Khurrum Rahman (Published by HQ)
Meet Jay. Small-time dealer. Accidental jihadist. The one man who can save us all? Javid – call him Jay – is a dope dealer living in West London. He goes to mosque on Friday, and he’s just bought his pride and joy – a BMW. He lives with his mum, and life seems sweet. But his world is about to turn upside-down. Because MI5 have been watching him, and they think he’s just the man they need for a delicate mission. One thing’s for sure: now he’s a long way East of Hounslow, Jay’s life will never be the same again.