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Musings and mind leaks... Typewriter

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  1. A few days ago I received a box of books in the post. It was a box of my books; my debut novel; my baby; my first born, and lots of other over-effusive descriptions for what was, essentially, a box full of paper. It was a very strange sensation. Of course, I was very pleased to have a copy in my hand, check that it was all okay and that the quality was as good as I hoped (it was), but there was another feeling that I hadn't expected, and it was this: My book is now a physical thing. Even the digital version is kind of physical once it's downloaded onto an e-reader. I can pick it up and hold it and see the printed words with my eyes. It's no longer something that's in me, or even part of me. It was once, but now it's independent of me. It now has a life of its own. Now, I'm not a parent but I imagined it was a little bit like seeing a child that's grown up leaving home.  I now have to decide what kind of mother I'm going to be. Will I be possessive and over-emotional, interfering with every action, lashing out at every criticism, and demanding that my book phones home every day? Or will I be strong and selfless and let it go free to live its own life with my blessing? I want to be like the latter and set it free...Off you go, little book. I hope you find good friends and kind enemies. I hope you live a long life and inspire a few people along the way. Farewell, be free...but don't forget to phone home once in a while! (Nope, I'm not crying. I've just got something in my eye.)

    Book cover STW

  2. In 5 days' time, the physical copies of my debut novel will be delivered to my door. The ebook is already spreading itself across the virtual world and people are downloading it onto convenient reading devices. This must be the time when all authors, no matter how seasoned or experienced, have that odd feeling of nothingness waiting for somethingness that's totally unknown, and that is: what will they think of it? Human beings (hopefully more than just a couple) will soon be looking at black print on white paper or black pixels on little screens, and taking in some words that came out of my imagination and stuffing them into their own to process. What will that process be like? What will a reader see in their mind? Will it be the same as what I saw? Will it make them happy? sad? inspired? bored? I don't know yet. It will probably be different for everybody. It's all fascinating to me. Some ideas got into my head (and where do ideas come from?...that's another blog), those ideas got condensed into words and sentences and paragraphs that were written down, then typed up, then processed by a publisher and a printer and all bound up in paper and digital bits. Then somebody will read those ideas, mix them with their own ideas and something will be alive in the world that wasn't before. It's quite a thought. It's scary, and profound, and exciting. For those of you that plan to read the finished book: Thank you for reading. I look forward to finding out what you made of it, and I hope you find something in it that you enjoy x

  3. WRITER'S BLOCK is something that people often ask about. At two recent literature festivals I heard at least 4 authors have the question of writer's block and how to cure it asked of them. They all gave different answers, all valid. Here's mine: A very wise person once told me this, and I think it's the best advice on the subject. (I will now paraphrase wildly...) Writer's block is not when you have nothing to write about; it's when you have too much to write about - too many ideas, concepts, revelations, whatever. What then happens is that you get so full up that your mind becomes constipated - yes, that's right! Just like eating too much cake, and I speak from personal experience of cake. So, what do you do when you become constipated? You need a purge! It's like clearing out a blocked wastepipe. First you've got to get out the solid lumps that are causing the blockage, then you flush the remainder through and suddenly you have a clean channel for fresh...umm, processes! And how do you this with writing? I've found the best the thing to do when you feel blocked is to sit down and just write...anything at all will do. Write a stream of consciousness, a shopping list, a letter to somebody, absolutely anything to free up the stuff in the pipes and get it moving. It doesn't matter if it's a load of crap (did you see what I did there?) because you can chuck the first load of stuff in the bin...or down the toilet if you prefer! If you still feel blocked, write some more. Absolutely anything. After a short while your channels (and your mind) will start to feel clearer, and perhaps a little fresher. When they do, get out a clean sheet of paper/open a new document in your computer and off you go. You'll then be in a much better position to catch the new stuff that's trying to come through you. Have a go. I've done this lots of times and it works. So, don't fret if you have writer's block. It's a good sign. Much better than feeling completely empty, isn't it? 

  4. A couple of days ago I became ridiculously excited when I discovered that my debut novel (not due to be published until February) had become available to pre-order on Waterstones and Wordery online bookshops. There it was, brazen as you like, showing off its ISBN number and everything. Even my name was spelt correctly. I literally (and I actually mean 'literally') jumped around the room for several minutes with joy. Even better, Waterstones (my old employers) had suggested one of my favourite authors, Margaret Atwood, under 'If you like this you might also like...' Pure joy! As is the custom for us modern writers today, I went straight on to social media to inform anyone who was awake of my exciting news and posted a link to one of the bookshops for pre-orders. To my amazement and with deep gratitude, I started to see messages coming in from friends around the world to say they had just pre-ordered! I was and still am truly humbled by the actions of friends, both old and new, showing complete faith in my ability to write a book they might enjoy, before they've read any of it, and without even seeing the finished cover! These people truly have more belief in me than I do myself, and by that I am blown away. They've even paid good money to demonstrate this belief! Thank you, thank you, thank you. Not just for the pre-orders, but also the many messages of support and encouragement. I'm writing this down and posting it on the eternal interweb so that I can remember these feelings when I'm onto book Number 5, published by Faber & Faber (one day...!). I hope I never, ever take these things for granted.
    (...And if anyone out there does want to pre-order, there's a link on my 'Published Works: Books' page!)