All At Once

Sometimes it feels like nothing is happening at all. I sit down and write my books, but out there, in the world, no-one is taking any notice. People are talking and reviewing and recommending but not about what I’m doing.

And then suddenly a day comes when it all happens at once – literally. Weeks stranded in the doldrums and then all of a sudden, I’m snowed under with emails and tweets and Facebook messages.

So, keep going. You may think no-one notices, but they do. And, every so often, you get a day when everyone notices.

The House at Baker Street by Michelle Birkby

The Women Of Baker Street

Sent from my iPad

I Write Anyway? by Christine Duncan

If when you were in school, someone had told you that you would work for long hours, alone, and often with no encouragement for no pay, what would your response have been?

And yet as writers, that is what we do.

I try to stop writing every so often. It is an addiction like booze or chocolate. I don’t put words to paper for long periods. I don’t stop thinking about what to write though, and I am probably awful to live with.

Writing requires so many things besides spelling and grammar. It requires courage to let it all out. It requires self-confidence to show it to someone for critique, to send it out to publishers, to market it. It requires persistence to get it right and get it published. It requires coming out of your shell to sell it over and over again to your readers. All of these are great skills–marketable, real world job skills.

But we use them to write.

Life imitates art

I just heard a headline about a TV Producer – of a police drama – who tried to hire a hit man to kill his wife.

He wanted her dead so he could be with a woman he’d met in a brothel. He fell in love and said she was too young and pretty to work in a brothel.

He tried twice to hire a hit man – and the second person he spoke to was an undercover policeman.

His wife is – standing by him. She gave evidence in his defence.

If any one of us had put this in a book it would be deemed far fetched. Reality is just too cliched.

Whatever you write, (almost whatever, I’m not sure about werewolves) has happened to someone somewhere. Isn’t that good to know?

The House at Baker Street by Michelle Birkby

The Women Of Baker Street

Sent from my iPad

Happy Mother’s Day by Christine Duncan

Author’s Talks

I went to a fantastic author’s talk this week, jointly given by Kathryn Harkup, author of A is for Arsenic (and I got a chance to tell her how useful I found her book – strictly as research!) and Annie Gray, author of the Greedy Queen. Both talks were fascinating and enlightening and funny and really made me want to read the books.

Now I do author talks myself, I tend to borrow tips from the ones I go to – I really have to get together a PowerPoint presentation.

What’s really good about these talks is the chance to ask questions about things that aren’t in the book. Why did they write this? What caught their attention? Have they heard about….

I know a lot of people don’t go to author talks as they don’t like to see the person behind the book, but you should go. It’s incredibly interesting and very useful for fellow writers. And the literary festival is on the rise, there’s more every year, so the chance of you getting to see your favourite author in the flesh is getting higher.

The House at Baker Street by Michelle Birkby

The Women Of Baker Street

Sent from my iPad

Writing Joy by Christine Duncan

It’s been a crazy, busy, emotional week. It was the kind of week where there were actually a couple of nights where we didn’t even have time to sleep much, but we didn’t even notice or complain much because we were grateful for the sleep we got because there was so much going on.

And yet, the writer in me just wanted to sit down for a minute and figure out how to write about it. Oh, not what was going on so much as how as a writer to convey joy, in the middle of fatigue,and loud chaotic periods sprinkled with the need to cram in just one more thing because things needed to be done. How do you write that?

Writing description feels easy. I try to keep it short and sprinkle it in, but really try to see it from the character’s eyes. Anger is not hard to convey either. I just write short, staccato, sentences and let the thing fly. Thoughtful scenes where the character suddenly understands something are satisfying to write.

Bur ironically writing about a deeply held happiness is harder. It’s not what fiction is about. By definition, fiction is about a journey, a problem, a need that must be filled. Fiction is about taking that journey, finding a a way to fix that problem.

But how do you write joy and the blur of a family with the mundane mixed in with it without sounding either sugary sweet or really naive? How do you convey awe and deeply felt gratitude without sounding gullible and maybe a little simple? Pollyanna was famous for a reason.

And how weird is it to pause in the middle of just such a time in life, and try to figure out how to write it?

Timetable

So somehow, I seem to have found myself writing three books (OK, one’s a collection of short stories), editing two and writing a bunch of blogs and essays and articles…

So I went into panic mode for ages. How could I fit all this in, what with a full time job too?

And research. I needed to do research!

So, I remembered just before I took my exams. I had to revise for ten o-levels and the only way to do it was to make out a strict timetable and stick to it.

So, though I’m a big fan of the ‘write when you feel like it’ method, I’ve drawn up a timetable of what I shall write and when and I’m sticking to it.

And so far, it’s working. I know exactly what I’m doing and when and what’s important, I’ve scheduled rest days too, so I know I’ll get some time off if I work hard.

So, panic over. For now, the timetable method is working.

The House at Baker Street by Michelle Birkby

The Women Of Baker Street

Sent from my iPad