Friday 30 July 2010

My writing day

Years ago I used to subscribe to Writers Magazine and my favourite feature was My Writing Day where authors would write about... er... their day. I loved the tales of writing in pyjamas, walks in the country to alleviate writers' block and afternoon glasses of wine. At the time, my writing day consisted of rushing home from school and writing as much as I could sat cross-legged on my bed before my mum realised I wasn't helping with the chores.

It's all changed now, though. I wake up, get the kids to school and head for the gym. I find the exercise in the morning gets my brain in gear for the rest of the day. Back at home, I switch on the computer, make a cuppa and sit down waiting for inspiration to strike. On good days, it does, it strikes endlessly as I scrawl down pages and pages of text with my beautiful fountain pen. My writing flows as well as the ink; because I love to watch the letters forming on the page so I rarely actually think about what I am writing.

Then those words get typed up, printed out, scrawled over again, printed out again. Sometimes, this only happens a couple of times; other times, it happens 5 or 6, or even more. I love the sound of typing as much as I like to see the ink appear on the page. There's always music, usually an album becomes intrinsically linked to the project I'm working on, so that album is on endless loop until I'm finished.

I never set myself a target. I write until I have nothing left, or until the light is so bad in my study that I have to give it up for the night. I have to write with the curtains closed - I live on quite a busy road and I get distracted watching people and cars going past the window. One day, I'm hoping for a study with a view of the sea, a river, a lake... though any old puddle will do.

I am still not quite used to having a writing day - I've only been in this situation for 10 months, and I'm a slow adapter. I still sometimes wake up and think I've got the whole day free. I would love to be - feel - more professional, to know that I will be productive during specific times and have other times free (like some of the authors in the magazine article - writing 9 til 5, or 10 til 2). But actually, I think writing shouldn't be a 9 til 5 job. It should be spontaneous and random, and you should be free to go for a coffee with a friend at 11 o'clock in the morning, or write until half past 2 in the morning. I never want to feel chained to my desk, I want to always feel that I am having fun!

Tuesday 27 July 2010

Helen Dunmore on the Booker long list

I am really excited to see Helen Dunmore on the Man Booker long list. I enjoyed her short short collection Love of Fat Men, published many years ago. I first read her years ago when I was browsing the library where I worked and found Zennor in Darkness - I picked it up because it was a short book. As I write short things myself, I often buy short books - I am drawn to them to confirm that what I am writing may still be publishable in this era of sequels, film tie-ins and series.

It was only after I read both of these titles that I started to see her name coming first, second and third in competitions I was entering. So, perhaps, we are on the same trajectory - although I am obviously a gazillion words behind her. This is reassuring, as I have already penciled in winning the Booker Prize myself the year I turn 56 (although I'm not saying which year that is, you'll have to wait and see!!)

I do wonder, though, whether writing short stories has to be a precursor to writing novels. I much prefer to write short stories and novella length stories - my plot dictates the length, rather than the length dictating the plot.

Monday 26 July 2010

It started... here

Ooh, my new blog.... I'll just take a moment to sit down and get comfy... Ah, that's better.

I have been putting off starting a blog because I am scared of the committment. I am scared that I'll be overly enthusiastic for a few weeks then disappear. I hope I won't. I have mastered the art of procrastination with excessive use of online Sudoku, so instead of clinking that link, I'll click this one instead!

I started the blog today because I have waiting block. I have a couple of projects I'm waiting for feedback on and I can't get my head around starting something new. It's been a couple of months since I started a new piece of writing, and once I get past that 'new blank page' excitement, I get a bit stuck. I had a power nap, but all that came out of that was 'red shoes' and 'the beach' - perhaps that will spark something in due course.

So, as you may have gathered I'm a writer. The title of this blog pretty much sums up how my ideal day would be, given the choice. But real life gets in the way.

I've been writing since A-levels and I've had a few things published, at a rate of about one short story every two to three years, which from a career point of view isn't so successful.

But this is it! Today - once I've sorted out my waiting block - is start of the rest of my writing life (and other such cliches). I hope to keep this blog up and running for a very long time.