Choose your own adventure

There you are one night, doing stuff, just doodling really, and you spy that dazzling someone. Within moments, your imagination is afire. You peer across the darkened room (isn’t it always a darkened room?) to get a better look. There’s no doubt – that hottie is looking right back at you. Your heart beats faster; your mouth goes dry; you feign looking cool. After a moment of panicked deliberation, you stride on over and buy that sizzler a drink.

So, um, what’s your name?


That’s – so exotic

Idea merely smiles.

You have one drink, then another, and one more. You could sit here forever just gazing at Idea. By some stroke of amazing luck, Idea agrees to see you again.

Writing hug


First dates are awkward, but it’s obvious that Idea is just as into this as you are. From your enthusiastic dialogue character traits emerge, and small vignettes and personal histories are shared. You converse well into the night, and it’s undeniable there’s something between you. How much you have in common! Idea’s quirks are utterly enthralling – you can tell you’ve never encountered anyone similar. You desperately hope that Idea will spend the night…

You see a bit of each other, casually of course. No need to jump into anything serious straight away. You each have separate lives, other commitments. But your friends know that something is going on. You’re more of a daydreamer than usual, and have become prone to whipping out your moleskin (or ipad) and scrawling secretive notes. You’ve cancelled a few lunches lately, piked on a party or two – not your usual style. Confidently, you strut around, head held high, smiling knowingly to yourself. You won’t quite admit to anyone yet that your mind is afire with the nuances of Idea.True love

You just can’t get Idea out of your head. At home you rush through your chores just to sit down with Idea over dinner and a glass of red. You listen to Idea all night and get through the day only because you are fuelled by pure adrenalin. When you are not immersed in Idea you anticipate the moment you and Idea can meet again. You spend more and more time in each other’s company. Finally, you admit to yourself that Idea is your first thought in the morning, and your last thought at night. You scratch your head and wonder how things became so serious.

You are brimming with Idea. You can’t think of a time when Idea was not around. You have no wish to return to that aimless existence. Although not as mysterious as when you first met, you are completely comfortable with each other. You are proud that Idea has chosen you. You even have pet names for each other. Sweet nothings such as ‘Novella’, ‘Bestseller’, or even naughty names like ‘Thriller’, ‘Big Bad Adventure’, or even ‘Racy Novel’ really set the mood. Not that you don’t have disagreements. You know Idea likes a lot of attention, that Idea gets jealous when you stay out late with your mates. Idea doesn’t mind a drink, but becomes sullen and uncommunicative after one too many. You once called Idea ‘Paranormal’ under your beery breath – the fight afterwards was epic. But you know that what you accomplish together is worth all the tetchy arguments. There’s nothing the two of you can’t overcome. By now you’ve introduced Idea to your close friends and family. Perhaps somewhat wary at first, on the whole they’re happy for you both. Passion remains, but generally, you just snuggle down together. Too many late nights aren’t a good thing, so you go to bed early and dream of all that you can be – together. It’s nice knowing what to expect of each other. You feel lucky to have found someone that brings out the best in you, and you only hope you can do the same.

The two of you are a formidable team. It seems hardly a big decision at all to make that lasting commitment – you know you want to be together until the end, and you couldn’t be bothered to waste your time with other fickle notions you’ve seen. You and Idea agree on the name change – Novel. The two of you are driven by plans and goals. You know what you need to accomplish day by day. Novel is very insistent about not slacking off, but sometimes – just sometimes – you feel you do all the work. There are times Novel isn’t to be found. You wonder where on earth Novel could be, but you battle on alone. Novel likes to see results. The two of you argue a little more. Disagree over nuance, perspective. Some days you don’t even talk at all. You begin to wonder how the thing that put wind in your sails became your anchor. Your friends seem to be getting on perfectly well with their significant others – where did the two of you lose inspiration?

No ideas

The honeymoon is over . . .

You spend a bit of time apart. Make quality time for your mates. You catch up for drinks, go to a few parties, flirt with a concept here and there, nothing serious. You try not to be bothered by Novel’s stone cold silence when you return home. You’ll make time for Novel…tomorrow. You fall in with a hobby. This catapults Novel into a mad jealousy. There’s nothing going on, you explain, it certainly doesn’t compromise the commitment you’ve made to Novel. You need independence just as much as Novel. You don’t ask for explanations of where Novel’s been all weekend, do you? Come to think of it, where was Novel all weekend?

You know everything there is to know about Novel. There’s not a hint of mystery anymore. Everything feels aimless, dull. You and Novel are practically leading separate lives. Perhaps you can’t give Novel what it needs, perhaps you don’t have what it takes. Once you thought you had the answers but you admit you’ve both lost your way. It’s time to be honest – you owe Novel at least that much – it’s not Novel, it’s you, so you call it a day while you can still think fondly of each other.

A little down the road of life, you bump into Idea (nee Novel). Idea is keeping well, looking good. You sit down together over a glass of red and reminisce over old times. Idea seems so mysterious, but you realise you still have a lot in common. You feel a mite jealous that Idea is doing so well without you. You realise you still find Idea incredibly sexy. You hope Idea hasn’t been seeing someone else – they can’t give Idea the realisation that you could. You buy Idea another drink.

One day you see someone else eyeing off Novel. They look at Novel like Novel’s hot stuff. They’re looking at Novel like you used to look at Novel – when Novel was Idea. Don’t they know Novel is spoken for? Enraged with jealousy you realise how important Novel is to you. Hell – Novel is a part of you. You haven’t come this far to give up now.
After a few tough months, you start to see your hard work paying off. Together you have created something to be proud of. What’s next? Well, you’re expecting. You and Novel have spawned a SERIES…

– Tessa


Perils of running a home business

With the first year of working from home safely under my belt, I like to think I’m becoming well acquainted with the traps and pitfalls of the home office.

It’s fairly important to be showered and dressed by 9am, ready for a day at work, even when enduring a monster case of writer’s block. I’ve heard it said that pyjamas can be worn until midday and beyond, but this is akin to holding a death adder up to your face and poking it in the eye with a stick. Unwary victims have ended up watching Breaking Bad episodes and shoving their greedy, slimy faces full of Doritos until 4pm like a huge putrid slug. At least if showered and dressed, the said writer can maintain the tentative illusion of dignity and professionalism.

It is also important to banish all access to gaming consoles, mobile phones and internet connections whilst in your work zone. Finding all the hidden packages on Grand Theft Auto is all very well and good, but doesn’t help pay the bills.

However, here are the largest dangers I have encountered whilst working from home. Beware, readers.


Generally, I can work with all kinds of noise. 90% of the time I can listen to heavy metal, have the washing machine whirring away and sit there writing happily without a worry in the world.

However, there are times when the words just don’t flow. When that tap that feeds them stops running, and all you get is a trickle of non-related verbs that end up sounding like George W Bush. The industrious tapping on the keyboard slows, the washing machine enters the spin cycle, and cabin fever threatens. Through this haze of frustration two sounds are likely to intrude that push me over the edge.

evil pigeon

pure, undiluted EVIL

That stupid pigeon

I hate this pigeon with all of my might. This fiendish rat with wings can pinpoint the exact moment when the words turn off in my head, and invades my back courtyard with coo-cooing and ridiculously loud wing flapping. It never desires a stand-up fight though, always flying off whenever I run out to do battle, red faced and swearing. This is because it is a filthy coward.

The leafblower Nazis

I live in a complex of apartments and town houses, and as such there are gardeners who visit once per week to blow away leaves FOR 10 HOURS at a time. I am not sure what qualifications you need to possess to operate a leaf blower, but I am sure some rudimentary aiming skills and the ability to blow away said leaves would be right at the top of the list. Blowing them around and around in an infinite loop can’t be helpful for anyone. I am also unsure whether a leaf blower needs to have the volume of a small passenger jet? Has it been turbo-charged?


When you find yourself scrubbing the oven or mopping the roof, you may just be on a cleaning bender. When you are delighted to see a Jehovah’s witness or two, and invite them in for a cup of tea and biscuits, you definitely have a procrastination problem. It only gets worse the more you procrastinate, though, so suck it up princess and get cracking.

Cabin fever

Leave the house once per day. And I’m not just talking about hanging out the washing. Go for a walk, grab a coffee, chase a duck down the street. Otherwise, you’ll be living vicariously through family members and flatmates, greeting them with a desperate look in your eye as they arrive home, begging for news about the big bad world outside. If you’re not careful a Vitamin D deficiency will kick in, you’ll get the shakes and all of a sudden you’ll be hallucinating about the roof mopping itself. Take my advice. Get OUT.

Deadly tree frog of death

Deadly tree frog of death

So, I hear you asking, “what are your solutions for these fiendish issues?” Well, I’m sure you’ll all be pleased to hear that I am taking some drastic steps to improve my home office situation. (Valium . . . just kidding!)

As we speak, I am constructing a series of cunning Home-Alone style traps for both the filthy pigeon and the relentless leaf blowers of doom. They may very well involve tripwires, bear-traps and the venom of the deadly tree frog of death, but I’m also all ears (eyes?) when it comes to your suggestions.

As for the procrastination, I’m still working on that… just gimme a sec.

Stay well,