Here's Jenn to tell us how she writes.
How I write has changed, and probably will carry on changing. My first novel – a horrible attempt my best friend retains a copy of merely to blackmail me with – was ‘composed’ (that’s probably too strong a word for it) on an old typewriter I bought from The Children’s Society charity shop in Chorley,
A Kind of Intimacy, I typed onto an un-stealable desk-top computer, wearing the letters off a keyboard and keeping one foot on the bouncing chair my new little girl sat, neglected, in. Cold Light, the one I’ve just finished, was written in long-hand in a set of A4 pads, then typed up, then half-deleted and rewritten six times on the same desk-top computer. A new Cherry Keyboard, and made of sterner stuff because the letters are intact - or maybe my hands are less clammy these days.
And the next one? I’ve no idea. I’ve a Lamy fountain pen with a medium nib, and people buy me bottles of ink for Christmas (Lamy green and Diamine Black Cherry are my favourites, although a friend tells me only nutters write in real green ink) and I usually save it for thank you cards and letters, but I think the pen’s up to the challenge of a novel.
I used to use the bold nib, but my loopy, lumpy handwriting was illegible, and that pen was stolen when I worked in the prison – the prisoners like real ink and metal nibs and I like the idea of my Christmas Lamy pen being used to make a tattoo. Maybe I’ll use Lamy the second to write my third novel, except when I cry or spill my tea, the ink moves and the page looks more like a chromatography experiment than a novel in the making. The impermanence of real ink is worrying – I want my books to be like those tattoos and I write my journals in biro.
It’s my journals I want to tell you about. My journals – a stack of which you’ll see in the picture – a record I’ve been keeping since I was thirteen, which used to be half my life but this year, is slightly less than that. The older I get, the smaller the percentage of my life that is unrecorded gets. I like that.
I write about boring things. The things my daughter does. My rants and irritations. I unload. Sometimes I call it the grudge book. I write about my secrets and most of all I write about my writing. I expect it’s very boring and it would be nice to have it burned just before I shuffle off, but I can’t mean that, because if the fountain pen happens to be near me when I take up my journal for the evening’s recording and unloading session (that last phrase sounds much ruder than I mean it to) I always swap it for a biro. I’m unreliable.
Of course I want it to last forever. It’s why I don’t type it up, I want these words, these special secret words that will never be read aloud, never be published, never read by anyone other than me, to exist in the real world. I want to feel the impression of my hand on the paper – see the tea and tear stains, and wonder what was written on that page I tore out of the book.
The books used to be cheap ones - the paper yellow already because I was little and I was buying them out of my pocket money. I write on Moleskines now because I like the binding and the covers and I’m a pretentious twat, and Rhodias because I like the orange and the squares but wish they were a bit more substantial looking.
Jenn Ashworth writes for fun, and for a living. Her books aren’t crime novels, but novels with crimes in them. And Fat Admirers. And glow in the dark fish. And out of hand news readers. And the Crystal Maze. And sticks of rock and shower curtains with penguins on them.
She’s just finished her second novel, Cold Light and her first, A Kind of Intimacy was published last year with
When she’s not writing books, she’s blogging – a little bit ago her blog won a prize at the