Noelle McCarthy: Writing dirty

By Noelle McCarthy

1 comment
Picture / Thinkstock
Picture / Thinkstock

You work from home when you are a writer. The good thing about working from home is that you don't have to see anyone from one end of the day to the other. The bad thing about working from home is that nobody sees you either. What this means is that you will start dressing like a crazy person while you are working.

Last week, I had a column and an article due. I wrote them both in a pair of pyjamas that have dalmations on them. When my toes got cold, I put on woolly socks that my mother sent me from Ireland. Proper miserable Irish socks; grey and knobbly and institutional. Over them I put on a pair of jewelled red slippers from a Hong Kong market. The overall effect of the combination was alarming; a courier who came to the door with a book one afternoon backed away, even while he was asking me to sign for it. No wonder. I looked like a homeless person with a Dorothy fetish. This is what happens when you don't give enough thought to your dressing arrangements.

The worst thing is, it's a creeping madness. When I first started writing full-time I still had some standards. I'd get up every morning, put the coffee on, and change into work attire.

Something very casual usually, nothing fancy. A dress, or a pair of pants and a T-shirt. Something nice and loose, for when all the thinking and the typing gets you sweaty, but decent enough to be able to run to the dairy in should the need arise, or answer the door to callers.

I don't know at what precise juncture my self respect did a runner, only that I woke up one morning and went over to the desk in my nightie. Eight hours later I became conscious that I still hadn't dressed or had a shower. I'd spent the whole day unwashed, in sleepwear, at my computer. And the worst thing was, I liked it.

That's my guilty secret: I like writing dirty. There's nothing better than sitting down for a whole day and working in the clothes you slept in. It's grubby and slatternly, and it feels fantastic. I work better this way, I reckon, although it does feel slightly hypocritical to be writing columns about style in my pyjamas. But Coco Chanel always said you can't have style without comfort, so it's possible to tell myself I'm honouring the spirit of the enterprise. In any case, I live alone, so there's no-one to be horrified by my feral appearance.

Until recently. Having a boyfriend around is a giant spanner when it comes to slobbing but in comfort, or as I like to call it, working. We've been in close quarters for the past few weeks, and I've had deadlines. I am not sure this has been a good thing for the relationship. No man needs to see his woman in high-waisted pyjamas. He's a writer too, though, so, hopefully, he knows what I'm only just learning; writing can be sexy, but not while you're doing it.


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