A Study in Procrastination


I promised myself that I would start writing another book at the beginning of October. No more procrastination. No more mulling over themes.  It will be the novelised story of my great-grandmother leaving a comfortable lower middle-class life in industrialised Bradford, Yorkshire, coming on her own to Australia, and (not) making good. A rags to riches tale in reverse.

The first Monday in October, I opened the laptop, created a new document, and got ready to write. Then I thought, maybe I should collate my research first. Get it into some kind of order, rather than randomly writing off each trigger, intending to stitch it together later.

Should only take a few days, I thought. Yeah, well. Good luck with that thought.

So then I promised myself that I would finalise the collation by Melbourne Cup Day – the race that stops a nation, held on the first Tuesday in November. One final party day, and then I would start writing seriously.

Here we are at the start of December, and this is what my study looks like.

I am like a dog with a perfectly good bone right under its nose, yet still preoccupied with sniffing out other dog’s bones. Everything is now tipped out of my research box (that’s a real box, not a virtual computer thingy), and every time I go to extract the bit I want to use, I find another lead that is just too irresistible to ignore. Many of them I may write about and end up editing out, as they make take the reader down too many burrows that are not central to the story. Others, though, are pure gold. For example, I found a mid-1870s newspaper article all about a group of Bradfordians – including two single women – leaving by train for London, to embark on the “Great Queensland“, bound for Moreton Bay in Australia, as part of an emigration scheme sponsored by the Queensland government. Great! In the absence of knowing which ship my great-grandmother came on, and why or how, that can be her journey! You see my predicament? How can I let such contemporaneous detail slip through my fingers?

The problem is I only have ten fingers, and one lifetime. So, at some point I have to set the final deadline to start writing. The 2nd January is looking good. Oh wait! No! That’s the day we have tickets to the circus 🙂

One deadline that it not dependent on me is the imminent UK release of I Belong to No One by Orion Books. Wow! Only two more sleeps until the 3rd December! My expectation is that the paperback will be in shops such as Waterstones, WH Smith, Foyles, Blackwell’s, and Easons (Ireland) plus loads of online retailers, such as Book Depository.  A little tip. If you are looking for it on the shelves you may have to crouch down to find the “W”s. Pity my surname isn’t Aardvark. (It will also be available as an eBook).

Although my story is an emotional one, it is not intended to be a misery memoir. It is ultimately a story of triumph over adversity.

As I told one journalist, “At some point, you reach a stage where you think: It wasn’t great. . . I can’t change that. All I can change is my future. You do not have to be defined by your background.”

In writing I Belong to No One, I hope it brings inspiration to people who are currently battling with situations where they really can’t see that there is ever going to be any other future than this one, thinking that they have to resign themselves to it and give up. Never give up. Never, ever.

For a review of I Belong to No One by British author Sandra Danby, click here.

For an in-depth author interview with Sandra Danby, click here.




20 thoughts on “A Study in Procrastination

  1. I am sure your writer’s block will pass in no time. You have such a gift. I read the review by Sandra and it’s fabulous. I have put this book on my list of to read books, but I can’t promise when I will get to it. My reading days are slow and few and far between and my list is long. I have been so far behind in catching up on my favorite bloggers. I know you won’t give up!

    Liked by 1 person

    • It’s the same with my reading list, and I am stuck on a biography on Bert Hinkler, on of our pioneer aviators. It is taking SOOO long to plough through, it is blocking up all my other reading. Interesting subject, so perhaps the problem is the way it is told. We have the grandchildren’s visit as a next priority, then an interstate quick trip, then Australia Day. Oh my! The excuses I can come up with to procrastinate! February is my new deadline 🙂

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        • Reluctantly, I think I am going to have to start scanning pages of the biography for the parts that interest me. What a pity. Yesterday, I downloaded half a dozen books onto my iPad. It will be my first attempt at reading books electronically. Have just dipped into “The 100 year old man who climbed out the window and disappeared”. I got a few pages in, then got a call one of the grandchildren was about to arrive – two days early! She’s in the living room chatting non-stop to Pa at the moment. He hasn’t a clue on most of what she is talking about (young teenager), but he is holding up his end well. Time for me to go cook dinner now. Let me start with the list of foods she does not eat . . . . oh wait! . . . . I don’t have time – it’s a VERY long list :-). When she was little we saved McDonalds packets, cut everything small, coated in breadcrumbs and pan-fried, served the food in the packet . . . told her everything was Chicken McNuggets. We got away with that for a couple of years. hahaha


  2. I read the review and the interview. Your narrative promises to be a very candid reflection of those times. It’s strange, but I already feel a kinship, sitting here and typing in a city far away in India..not because of the similarity in circumstances , but because of the sameness of emotions. Is your book available online?

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thank you so much for the follow on my blog, Nadira, and I shall also follow along on yours. I look forward to the “tastes” of your life in India. My book is available through Amazon India, both in eBook and Paperback form. If you search “I Belong to No One Gwen Wilson” you should find it without problem. I will be very interested to hear what you think of it.I feel it is an “everywoman’s” book. For many of us, the experiences are similar, and certainly, the emotions are universal.


  3. Oh, the curse of procrastination! And writing a novel that is reliant on research certainly does not make things better. In fact, I think it makes it far worse. So all I can say is “good luck”, Gwen. I hope you will find your writing rhythm soon.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thank you Jolandi. A year ago, I was writing every day (even if it was Liz Thurlow and her little “fling”), so I do know I have it in me. I just love research, and I have such a “nose” for it, that I have to force myself to tear myself away. Enough already! I have to tell myself.

      Liked by 1 person

  4. A pot of tea, a packet of biscuits, send everyone out for the day and …. go 🙂 Share some character sketches on here and that might get you started. Or only allow yourself to take ONE thing from the box per day. Good luck x


    • Thank you. Very good tips! Although I may have to lay off the biscuits. I struggle to control my weight when writing intensively. My study got into that state because I intended to create a scrapbook containing the major clues I would draw on. I suspect I am just not good at planning when writing – even though in my work career, shipping and logistics, I was an exceptional planner. It seems I’ve had a mind shift.

      Liked by 1 person

  5. Well this must be the reason I’ve never written a bestseller! I read the review and author’s interview links you provided – you are amazingly resourceful, brave and determined and one day that procrastination will pass.

    Liked by 1 person

  6. Sounds like an interesting story Gwen! I haven’t written anything for so long…. Read a short book by Patricia Highsmith on Plotting and Writing Suspense fiction :)…. Some great ideas for hatching plots and story lines!

    Waiting for the South African visa and each day wondering WHERE it is. You have to appear in person now so I flew to LA (closest consulate) to submit the visa package on November 10th – still nothing. It’s a bit disconcerting when your passport is out of hand. My target for departure is early January and if all goes well will be departing for a two month safari on January 28th.


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