Friday, 20 June 2014

Connecting Writers: The Writing Process Blog Tour

Thank you Rachel Fenton for nominating me to be part of this blog tour where writers talk about their writing process.

Here I am answering a few questions.

What am I working on?

Today: my novel

Few days ago: adapting a short piece of writing into a poem

The week ahead: has to be novel, novel, novel. A little short storying.

How does my work differ from others of its genre?

Tricky question! I generally don't write in a particular genre. But I’m not a genre snob (hate them), I just don’t happen to write in one. But people do ask what genre my work is and I answer with that slippery useless term ‘contemporary fiction’, then wince at myself. So I don’t know how it differs, I just write what I like writing. My novel is half written in lists, so maybe that makes it different. I’m not the first to do that, of course. You might say my short stories are literary fiction but only because of certain characteristics, mostly that they’re not always conventional stories. Not because of loftiness, or better-than-ness, just because that’s what I happen to write.

Why do I write what I do?

I write short stories because … gawd maybe I’m not cut out for this. I don’t know. Okay I’ll just go with it. I like short bursts of stuff. I like jigsaws. I like questions. I like the way people talk. I like it when people talk about nothing (they’re not).

I’m writing my novel because ... it's a challenge, a bigger jigsaw, I found a character I like, am interested in, find funny, and I want to write her story. I want to get it published, I want other people to read it. This all sounds very basic doesn’t it? But then I suppose it is.

How does my writing process work?

On a practical level, I set aside one day a week for writing, keeping that day clear of any plans. On top of that I write when I can between going to work and living the other parts of my life with my boyfriend and friends. That one day each week is essential and I work hard to protect it. But there must also be bits of writing going on in some of the other days or there’s too much pressure on that one day to be perfect. Often I'll be tired and I never do as much as I think I could have done.

I’m a mix of being disciplined and very easily distracted. Part of one of my jobs involves mentoring university students with huge workloads so I try to take my own advice. I look at deadlines I want to meet (even for publications and prizes these are all self-imposed, I’m never contracted to write) and see what time I have. I breakdown the time into chunks - weeks, days, hours, depends - and then I do it. Not always as easy as it sounds. The internet gets shut off if I have to (yeah, I have to) and I take myself out of the house usually, even if there’s just me in, for an hour or two.   

I write by hand for a bit, I type for a bit, I look into space a lot. I earwig. I think about what I’m cooking for tea. I think about crisps. I eat some crisps. I look at the time and wish I had more. I reassure myself. I daydream about a book deal. I write a bit more.

It’s easy to think I should be somewhere else by now. I've noticed lately that a lot of the people I know who have chosen a similar path to me (day job to pay the bills, make stuff in their spare time) are feeling downhearted because they haven’t got to where they want to be, or think they should be yet. I’m never far away from feeling like that, but when I do I pull myself around, because you know – I chose this, and it’s what I want. 

And I think it’s important to measure yourself only on what you do, what you’re making, producing, not where you think you ought to be, success-wise.


Thanks, Rachel, for the baton.

I’m nominating ... the first person who comments and says they'd like to take the baton! If you do, you need to answer the same questions I have and then pass it on to another blogging writer.