I've been thinking about nothing. 

All right, that may not come as any surprise to you, but it's not quite true anyway.  What I've been thinking about are spaces.

It was in my mind on my way back from a talk about the tvdetective books I gave in Plymouth on Wednesday night.  As ever, I tried to weave in some humour, and the kind folk of the audience were good enough to laugh in the places I hoped.

I also mentioned a couple of the more poignant experiences from my life, and how they translate into my writing.  And what tied both those anecdotes and the humour together, were the spaces.

People need time to think and react.  If you babble ever onwards, there's no pause for breath, no time for reflection.  It's not an easy thing to do when you're standing up in front of 70 people, just to stop and look at them.  But it's a very worthwhile art to try to master.

It's just the same in a conversation. A formal talk is only an extension of that, after all.  But I always find it interesting (and often irritating) how many people are exceptionally good at talking (and usually about themselves), but not at all talented at the noble pastime of listening.

And that's what I've come to think of as one of the most important parts of giving a talk - listening to the audience. 

Only that way can you give them the space to take in what you're saying.  Plus, it helps to assess them - to see what kind of things they're interested in hearing about, how to pitch any humour, all that kind of thing.

I'm having a space type phase in my writing life at the moment.  I'm not working on any major project.  There are quite a few things going on - talks, teaching, a series of lectures -  but nothing overwhelming.

Which is most enjoyable.  Because it's giving me the space to do that thing I so very much enjoy, the root of writing and creativity.  Yes, it's thinking time.

I'm thinking about plans for a new tvdetective book, a possible diversion into trying writing for children, a few new ideas to test out in my teaching work, all sorts of fun thoughts.

On the subject of which, I must be away.  I'm being a good boy and going to the gym, but I want to walk around the river to get there, to enjoy one of these beautiful amber September mornings, to see the geese and ducks and swans playing their games, and yes - to do a little thinking.