DOG IN RESIDENCE: Week One, Day Three

Guest blogger: Horrie Oddlong.

I’m a newly minted character, not very well fleshed out. Go easy on me.


I arrived in unseasonable sunshine, but the air was edgy. The first thing I learned was the story of what should have been.


“Horrie,” she told me. “I’m so sorry. You were always going to be invented out of thin air – just not this air.


“Your formative weeks should have been spent at a cosy haven on a faraway coast. You were going to be the bouncing by-product of a creative retreat; a character conjured from the fecund depths of a writing residency distinguished by woolly storms and dramatic skies, crispy morning beach walks and long, fruitful days and nights surrounded by reams of inky pages, warmed by whiskey and candlelight.”


Anyhoo: pandemic. Borders were closed and the circumstances of my arrival took a nosedive into the pedestrian, the banal, the contemptuously familiar: I was born at home, under fluorescent light, surrounded by piles of laundry.


It’s all the same to me, but there’s a distinct whiff of umbrage from the one who gave me legs (only two so far) and this slightly underdeveloped nose. “Who does a writing residency at home?” she implores. “In what universe does

‘in-residence’ mean ‘at home’?”


This universe, I’d have thought, but what do I know, I just got here. I do know she’s gazing into the middle distance a lot, muttering about the ideal creative conditions that were ripped out from under her and how deeply unfair it is that she’s expected to be brilliant without getting on any planes at all.


Nothing momentous is happening in the home office, as far as I can tell. It’s early days, but there’s been a lot of long bike rides and much trialling of notebook sizes and gel pens. The House Writer (she hates it when I call her that) doesn’t strike me as the type who’d normally engage the Jehova’s Witnesses in lengthy bouts of robust discussion, either, but there you are.


On the upside, she’s agreed to hand over the blog to me so that she can focus on the tasks at hand: raking leaves and rearranging the cutlery drawer. I’m no expert on how a book gets written, so I’m making no judgement about that. I’m just here to document the situation as I see it.


We’ve got several weeks of this, apparently. I really hope she stops scratching at my eyes with a Sharpie.