Rachel Sargeant

Too Busy to Blog – Writer in First Draft Mode

It’s the end of March and I haven’t written a blog since January. I’ve had my head down working in first draft mode on my new psychological thriller. I find that in the early stages of writing something new I have to stick to the one project; I don’t have enough creativity in my brain to spread the effort further, even as far as a blog entry. Do other writers get like this? I’d love to hear your views.

But I have had brain space for lots of reading. Here are the novels I enjoyed:

Me Before You – Jojo Moyles

Welcome to Lagos – Chibundu Onuzo

Never Coming Back – Tim Weaver

Schneewittchen Muss Sterben – Nele Neuhaus

The Book of Harlan – Bernice L. McFadden

The only other writing task I’ve managed this year is an edit of my first novel Long Time Waiting. For me, editing requires a different kind of  brain function and I manage it even when I’m in first draft mode. Here’s an update to the first page.

Long Time Waiting  (copyright Rachel Sargeant)


Her back ached like hell now. She tried for the hundredth time to read her watch but she couldn’t see her wrist, no matter how far she craned her neck. The hot metal handcuffs cut into her arm and sent pain searing up to her shoulder. She thought it might be broken, but fractures were worse than this; she knew that. Her body had taken a pummelling but the bruises would heal.

She shifted her buttocks, peeling the thick pyjama trousers away from her clammy thighs. She was in the lounge on a kitchen chair, old with paint splatters, the remnants of previous decorating forays. White speckles from several ceilings, large splodges of powder blue bathroom sheen, and buttercup, pink and cherry from the nursery project. Happy days that seemed long gone. She’d never had to sit for so long in this chair. She usually perched on its hard edge long enough to force down a couple of cream crackers and a cup of camomile tea. Even the leisurely Sunday breakfasts had become a thing of the past.


Reg Kenny weaved back and forth across the dotted white line, taking care not to stray off the tarmac. Not that it would have mattered much. Although the thick grass verge was soaked in dew, the ground below was rock hard. The ditch beyond would be bone dry. As Reg pedalled, he felt sweat on his forehead. It was going to be another scorcher. Doreen didn’t know what she was missing and he wasn’t ever going to tell her. His early morning cycle ride was his only escape from that infernal woman. And besides he had his extra little detour ahead of him. He pedalled faster at the thought of what lay ahead. He breathed harder, taking in the country freshness.

The chance to free-wheel downhill restored his good humour. The riotous hedgerows rushing by, the morning birds in full voice, the warm air on his face. And the sun glinting through the trees which lined the road – his road – through Martle Top, the one little bit of countryside between Penbury and the motorway. That car parked in the lay-by had annoyed him earlier. The thoughtlessness of some people: radio blaring, passenger door wide open, driver probably stopped for a pee in the ditch. Just as well Reg didn’t see him. He would have given him a piece of his mind. Still, he was nearly there now. His stomach fluttered and there was a delicious prickle through his shoulders. He was like this every time. The first few days he thought it was guilt but he knew it now as the thrill of anticipation. Why should he feel guilty? It was Doreen’s fault. She shouldn’t have withdrawn her services.


Raging thirst replaced the hunger pangs. Her forehead was throbbing and it was hard to swallow. The first signs of dehydration? She tried not to panic.

If only the curtains were open a crack, the postman might have spotted her through the window and called the police. After the sharp thwack of the letterbox, she’d heard his Crazy Frog whistling fade away down the gravel path. She’d tried to call out but with the tape over her mouth she only managed a pathetic humming sound. It had no hope of reaching the man chirping off into the warm June morning. She was starting to hate those curtains now, garish with the broad daylight behind them. Their peach colour made the room loud and stuffy, hurting her eyes and aggravating her headache. They provided a clashing backdrop for the vase of dark red roses on the table in front. She hated them too, sensing that their pungent perfume was robbing her of the precious clean air still left in the room. A familiar wave of nausea threatened. She managed to fight it off.

By Rachel Sargeant

Rachel Sargeant is a British author. Her latest thriller, The Roommates, is a Closer Magazine "Must Read". Her other titles are The Good Teacher, The Perfect Neighbours and Gallipoli: Year of Love and Duty. Rachel won Writing Magazine’s Crime Short Story competition and has been shortlisted in various competitions including the Bristol Short Story Prize. She was born in Lincolnshire and is a graduate of Aberystwyth University. She now lives in Gloucestershire with her husband and children.

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