I've had a rare experience of it lately, and so have been thinking about the importance of spaces.
I'm most of the way through writing the new tvdetective book, but have come to a critical point. There's a time shift to be navigated, and I need to do some wondering about how it will work.
So, the writing has stopped, leaving instead a space to think. It's not always easy, but it is important.
The problem with spaces, and thinking, is that they can look and feel like you're not doing or achieving anything. There are no words on the page to justify your time, just ideas.
But without them, where's the opportunity to create? Modern life can be so filled with distractions that it's important for a writer to have a place and a space in which to think.
I can lock myself in my study, or go for a walk around the river, but wherever it may be a space is so important.
On the subject of which, here's a favourite view of mine, full of space and inspiration - looking out over the River Exe at dusk.
I've noticed how effective spaces are in giving talks about my books, too. When I started, I was so darned nervous I just had a script and rambled through it.
But you need spaces for the audience to react; to laugh if you've said something vaguely entertaining, or ponder if it's something thoughtful.
In books too, even crime thrillers, you need spaces. It can't just be all action or it gets wearing. A bit of space for describing a beautiful scene, or some thoughtful reflection by the characters, helps to punctuate a book, add texture, vary the pace and enrich the reading.
It reminds me of the WH Davies quotation -
"What is this life, if full of care, We have no time to stand and stare?"
It's strange how an absence can be so useful, but that's how I've come to think about spaces.
Here's to s p a c e s. (and very bad humour)