Why is book-writing like renovating a patio?

I took a week off work to write my book… and to renovate the patio. The latter won.

I won’t say I made no progress at all on the book, but it was minor. Instead, I set to work planning the garden job, clearing the area, ripping up worn-out paving stones, relocating ants’ nests, tearing out weeds, buying requisites and hiring a van to take them home, asking permission to unload on the neighbour’s drive, to avoid having to carry the heavy stuff up the steps, and persuading my son and daughter-in-law to help.

The following day, my other son joined in. He would have set about it differently. But they both dug and carried 54 paving stones, 13 edging stones and 26 bags of gravel, for which I was most grateful. Meanwhile, I was managing, measuring and generally tinkering around…

There were boulders, there were roots, things weren’t flat, I had miscalculated and later had to remove and re-set some of the edging stones. Levelling the gravel proved to be a fine art, positioning the paving stones a back-breaking and delicate task. Things didn’t fit and needed constant adjustment.

As you see, some progress was made (on the patio, not the book) but it’s a long way from being finished. I’m aching all over. And the week is also over. It always takes longer than you expect.

Aren’t there parallels with book-writing? A great deal of planning is necessary before one even starts. The groundwork (research) can be tedious. There are innumerable distractions (I could watch the ants for hours… or play games in Facebook). Critique partners have an invaluable role, corrective and motivational. Progress is slow. Often one needs to scrap a whole section and start again. At least it doesn’t cause backache!

And some small signs of progress are visible … (not much this week!)


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  1. I’m observing and learning from Vik’s struggles with the book and with the patio!
    And I’m looking forward to the final results! Take courage, dear Vik!

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