Imagining otters. Or why you’re ALWAYS writing.

UnknownA few months ago, Susie Day and Rainbow Rowell – two authors I LOVE – introduced me (via Twitter) to the Radio 4 sitcom, Cabin Pressure. I immediately became completely obsessed. It’s hilarious, addictive and brilliantly written.

One of my favourite moments is in the episode Ottery St Mary when one character says he can imagine a million otters (don’t worry about why) and another says you really can’t imagine a million anything and so they work out how many otters they can actually imagine by thinking of how many they could fit on the plane.

I mention it because John Finnemore, the writer and creator (and one of the stars) of Cabin Pressure has a brilliant blog and in this post, he wrote this:

For the origin of the otter-imagining game, have a look at this blog post I wrote three years ago. I like that I titled it ‘I am supposed to be writing a sitcom.’ Little did I know I was bunking off writing Cabin Pressure series one to write a bit of Cabin Pressure series three.

I notice this kind of thing so often. Old notes I’ve made, pictures I’ve saved, articles I’ve torn out of magazines, books I’ve bought, even songs I like, all popping up in my writing. I’ll start writing something – or planning something – and then a little ping will go off in my head and the next thing I’m rummaging around to find the perfect thing, saved before I knew it was the perfect thing.

Sometimes I don’t even remember or look, things just appear. Last week I had a meeting with an editor (I know!) and we talked about something I may write. Yesterday, I was looking through a folder on the computer – actually looking for a high res jpeg of the Emma cover – and there was a photo I’d saved at least a year ago, probably more like two, PERFECT for the thing I may write. It’s like those tweets that say things like ‘Thank you drunk me for leaving the chinese takeaway leftovers for hungover me’, but it’s ‘Thank you past me for knowing future me could use that photo.’