Sunday, 4 May 2014

My Writing Process

Many thanks to Juliet Greenwood, author of the brilliant Eden’s Garden and We That Are Left, for inviting me to take part in the ‘My Writing Process’ blogging tour, and to Edith Ó Nualláin who previously tagged her. Read Juliet’s blog, which tagged me, at http://julietgreenwoodauthor.wordpress.com/2014/04/21/my-writing-process-blog-tour/

And now it’s my turn to answer four questions.


1    1)  What am I working on?
      Far too much. My first novel A Time For Silence was published a couple of years ago. I have a second novel due for publication in February 2015 (Motherlove), and I expect that at any moment I’ll be working on the editing for that. I have been revising and re-polishing a third novel, which was called Shadows but which might now be called Guilt Bonds (open to perpetual revision), which, like my first two books, is set in Pembrokeshire, with roots in the past. It differs in having a hint of a paranormal twist, though essentially it is, like them, about people responding to traumatic events by either growing or going under. I’ve also been working on a novella, set in the 17th Century, to accompany it, though I’m not sure quite how it would do the accompanying.


And then, purely as self-indulgence over Christmas, I treated myself to a re-read of one of my old Science Fiction novels, Inside Out, and enjoyed it so much that I started re-editing it, and am still fully immersed, remembering what it was like just to write for pleasure. When I say Science Fiction, it’s actually about people responding to traumatic events by either growing or going under – no change at all then, except that it happens to be set on a space ship.
What I would really like to be doing is writing, uninterrupted, preferably without even having to get out of bed. Unfortunately, since I have a business to run, making miniature furniture (www.peartree-miniatures.co.uk), I have to keep stopping and doing other things.

2)  How does my work differ from others of its genre?
Difficult, this one, because I have never thought that I was writing in any particular genre. I often include crimes, but I don’t write crime novels. I include links to the past, but I don’t write historical novels. I write about women, but they invariably finish up sorting themselves out rather than finding Mr.Right, so I don’t write romances. I don’t really think of Inside Out as science fiction, despite the space ship. What do I write? About people responding to traumatic events by either growing or going under. Have I mentioned that before? I try to explore why my characters do what they do, how they cope, how the present is born out of the past, and how it determines the course of the future. At the moment my first book, A Time For Silence, is doing quite well, according to the Kindle charts, as Women’s Literary Fiction, which I think I can live with quite happily. Even so, I don’t like genres, or brands, or anything that tries to squeeze me into a writing straitjacket. I like to wave my arms around.


3) Why do I write what I do?
Because I am egotistical and arrogantly assume that I have something worth saying and other people ought to be LISTENING TO ME! Other than that? Being arrogantly egotistical, I like to play God? I like to be in complete and unchallenged control of a world of my own making - except that my characters invariably go off at a tangent and pay no attention to me. I can’t remember a time when I didn’t write, or want to be a writer. To create with words. I’d probably be a lot better off if I had accepted it as an amusing little hobby, something for spare hours of a Sunday morning, leaving the rest of the week to pursue career, family and wild hedonism.
Most of all, I suppose, I write what I do because I write the books I want to read. Back to egotistical arrogance. If you want something doing well, do it yourself.

4)  How does my writing process work?
Literally, it works by me waking up, around 6 a.m., groping for my laptop, and leaving it to start up, while I get on with opening my eyes properly. I’m a morning person, the earlier the better. Evenings are no use. My brain shuts down at 9 p.m. and the rest of me an hour later. So at 6 a.m. I write, and at 9 a.m. or thereabouts I reluctantly shut the laptop and drag myself over to my workshop. After dinner, every day, unless it’s seriously pouring with rain, I go for a walk. Nowhere serious. Nowhere with views to inspire me or people to arouse my curiosity, just up and down my shady lane for 30 or 40 minutes, by torch light in winter.

 During that walk, I just think, and all the problems in whatever I’m writing sort themselves out. Miracles happen. Solutions present themselves, so obvious I can’t believe I hadn’t thought of them before. Descriptions take form. Dialogue flows. Wit bubbles. It’s all brilliant. The trouble is, by the time I’ve slept on it and woken the next morning, 50% of it has evaporated and the rest is no longer quite so brilliant, but progress is made.
I usually start writing a book with a clear idea of who’s who and where it’s all going. By the time I’m between a third and two thirds of the way through it, the characters have all gone rambling off under their own steam, and the whole meaning has rearranged itself and come to completely different conclusions, so I usually start the rewrite before I’ve even written it. Once I have written it, I can see how I’ve got it all entirely wrong, so I rewrite it again. Then I polish it. And re-polish it. Does anybody know how to stop writing a book?

That’s me then. Now, let me hand on to three other great writers whose blogs will take the tour on .

Catherine Marshall, author of Excluded and Masquerade. Read her blog (as Kate MacCormack) at http://www.katemaccormack.blogspot.co.uk/  and visit her website: http://www.catherine-marshall.co.uk/

Alys Einion, whose novel, Inshallah, is being published by Honno in July: http://alyseinion.wordpress.com/

Judith Barrow, author of the brilliant Pattern of Shadows and Changing Shadows (and soon a third instalment of the trilogy I hope): visit her website and blog at http://www.judithbarrow.co.uk