The loneliness of the any-length writer

I’m not moaning; no-one makes me do this – write things, but it is a strange, solitary occupation. When the process is going well I’m friends with my words, and the world is a buoyant place; or on those darker days when someone says something that throws doubt on one’s efforts, the words become futile things – hopefully temporarily.

But we (writers, and anyone involved in a creative process) need people to say things, and not just ‘hey, that work’s really well’ but comments that cause us to stop and think; re-work, break down something that might have been considered finished and look again.

Then there are the days when someone unexpectedly says something that makes the whole ridiculous activity worthwhile . . . “That book – the last one you gave me – it’s fantastic. When will it be out?” The piles of manuscripts, trial copies of books, notes on short stories, completed stories and ones still circulating in the brain – it all suddenly seems a useful exercise, something heading in a real direction.

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But if no one ever said anything about the work, would I still do it? Yes. I can’t imagine a day without writing whether it be a blog, a re-write, or a new tentative step into a new idea.

 

Tangents

I’m very good at these – going off, wandering about, throwing in new ideas, which can be exciting or frustrating depending what I’m trying to achieve, writing wise.

 

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I once saw a film of a writer (can’t remember who) as they were planning a book. The walls of the studio were plastered with a sort of time scale plan – each chapter planned out: what was going to happen to who, where and when.

I don’t seem to be able to do this, and I have tried. I start with characters and a vague idea of what might happen, but then the plot invariably changes and veers off in some other direction, characters leading the way and me stumbling along: “Er, hello . . . wait.”

 

A review of one of my most tangenty stories, where the reader (luckily) enjoyed following my unknown path.

I really enjoyed this and it was hugely compelling, I had absolutely no problem zipping through to the end. The concept is really original, and in the best sense – intriguing! The writing is jaunty, the story feels like it has direction. And this isn’t even hugely important, as you have the rare gift of being able to grab a reader and string them along, you could digress and go on weird tangents and I’d follow you as you clearly know what you’re doing.

 

Major tangent-wise, I’ve just started another short story inspired by a flight into Stanstead recently. Supposed to be 6,000 words, it’s already out of control and heading into book shape, now taking over the novel I was already writing – the second instalment of Hoxton, Smithi.

It’s all good practice . . .

 

My stuff at the moment:

Three stories with ‘Cracked Eye’ online magazine – 158th book out, The couch and Rose, to appear at some point.

Trilogy: ‘Going Out in the Midday Sun, on Amazon as paperback and ebooks.

Hoxton: (not Horton, thank you spell check) to be on Amazon, or to order with fancy hand-made cover, from me, in the New Year.

Smith: Follow-up to Hoxton, to ne published, hopefully by late spring.

Dog: A short/long story/novel, in progress, and length to be decided.

Some illustrations from Hoxton:

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Getting the balance

Tricky. We’re all busy – busier all the time, it seems.

I write early in the morning, usually around 6.00 – assisted by the fact that we have to get up to get the son to Lycee (college). If I get anything from 20 mins to an hour and a half done, the day feels . . . established – moving the right way. If I don’t – like this morning . . .well, it’s not a good start.

So, the balance: ‘media visibility’ or whatever it might be termed: Facebook, blogs, Linkedin and the rest of it, against getting any actual work done.

I can’t keep up with it all, even though I know it’s probably essential in this screen-driven era, and what an incredible thing it is too – to be able to access information about anything from sock-darning to nuclear fission.

Even now as I write I am aware of all the other stuff building up . . . I have too many blogs (must delete some) too many emails to deal with, there are pages to be liked, connections to be confirmed. I locked my self out of internet banking (again) this morning. There is another writer called Kate Hardy (very successful one with mega sales in romance) I keep meaning to write to her and ask if she could prod anyone looking for me (the other K.H with an A) in my direction. Linkedin needs updating. Facebook needs updating. The photo folders need editing. I must back everything up. I should be sending chapters to agents.

I’m going into the garden to dig. Apparently this produces the same endorphins as running (something to do with inhaling earth-bound bacteria). Then I’ll write what I should have written this morning.

IMG_5810.jpgMore walking and thinking, a little less computer.