Wasting Words on the Dock of the Bay with Jessie Cahalin


This coffee shop, in Cardiff Bay, is one of my favourite writing places.  I like to abandon my laptop for a notebook and pen.  There is something reassuring about forming every single letter with my biro. With the onset of autumn, I remembered a blog post I forgot to publish last October, because I had been absorbed in the agony of the editing process.  I wrote this post when editing You Can’t Go It Alone.

My imagination roams free in this setting.

Once my coffee cup is empty, I let the pen wander across the page.  Hoping to catch some dialogue from the unsuspecting customers, I listen with my best writer’s ear.  I am happy here in this café suspended above the water.  Alas, the sound of my beeping phone collides head on with my imagination.  I stop writing and must look at the email from an insurance company.  I wonder if writers had less distractions prior to the digital age, so I google ‘writing quotations’. 

Virginia Woolf pops up on my phone, but she doesn’t look happy and she says:

Sitting on the dock in the Bay wasting words

‘Lock up your libraries if you like; but there is no gate, no lock, no bolt that you can set upon the freedom of my mind.’

Obviously, Virginia never had to cope with the disruptive influence of a mobile phone. I decide my imagination has been temporarily locked by my phone: it is a twenty first century condition called ‘beepitis’.  Fortunately, I do not need to re-boot my imagination as it starts up again. I am trying to re-work a menacing scene in my book. Hoping to get inspiration, I look at the murky water from the window.  Despite the distracting background noise, I make a list of adjectives. The shopping list of words stares at me, defying me to write something coherent. It is useless! 

I decide to drive home via Cardiff Docks to gather some words for a scene in my novel. It is a sinister setting.

I decide to drive home via Cardiff Docks to gather some words.  I drive off absorbing the atmosphere of the autumn’s day and watch the leaves dance across the road.  Almost forgetting to stop at the red light, I look out for the sign to the docks, but realise I am driving over a new road.  I hate the massive construction with barriers at each side.  Finally, I drive through the docks and stop to pull over to make some notes for finishing touches to a scene.  I am considered with suspicion. I ignore the onlookers and write until my car beeps me to tell me there is something wrong with a filter.

Clearly, I need ‘a room of my own’ to write.

Time to go home to my laptop: time to find ‘a room of one’s own’, time to sculpt my manuscript and stop wasting time and listing words. The truth is the book is almost done but I don’t want to let the characters live their lives without me.

My book costs less than the price of a coffee and will last longer.

You Can’t Go It Alone has been available since May.  I have been delighted with the reviews. Reviewers have enjoyed visiting Delfryn and getting to know the inhabitants.  The agony of the editing process was worth it, as it helped readers to connect. In celebration of my thirteenth review, I am reducing the cost of the kindle format next week.  Of course, I would be delighted to receive more reviews.  My book is less than half the price of a coffee and will last longer.  Indeed, one reviewer wrote:

‘An intricate, thoughtful story of real people whose life will continue long after the author has typed the end’ Perdisma, Amazon reviewer

Here is a snapshot of my most recent reviews:

Reviewers have enjoyed visiting Delfryn and getting to know the inhabitants.

‘It’s a roller-coaster of a novel in which the beautiful Welsh countryside and weather take a leading role. I was gripped by these characters, and by Cahalin’s fascinating touches.’ Professor Maggie Humm

‘The author has a real feeling for character and place… Her ideas around plot and how a story unfolds are original, and well executed, with a good balance of lightness and shade.’ Welsh Annie, top 500 Amazon Reviewer

You Can’t Go It Alone is available on Amazon.

 ‘The author is not afraid to face life’s most challenging problems head on. What appeals about the novel is that she does not ‘go on crusade’ but underpins these problems with a deep, rich humanity …’ John Broughton, author

‘Complex and vivid tapestry of a story’ Jena. C. Henry, USA author, blogger and reviewer

‘As a debut novel, You Can’t Go It Alone is an accomplished read. Eloquent, moving and packed with vivid imagery…’ Audrey Davis

Please see all my adventures at Handbag Adventuresand my website and blog at JessieCahalin.com.




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