I’ve wanted to write this post for ages…but it’s taken me a very long time to get to the point where I felt that I had anything to say!
To explain: Winston Churchill was asked by his barber if he wanted his hair cut in a particular style. His response was: ‘A man of my limited resources cannot presume to have a hair style. Get on and cut it.’ That’s pretty much how I feel about my writing process; I’m not entirely convinced that, with my limited resources, I can presume to have one.
So when I was invited by the marvellous Mark A. King to join the Writing Process Blog Tour, my first thought was ‘I’m delighted, but I’m not ready!’. I’m not sure that I ever will be, though; so now is possibly as good a time as any.
Here’s a link back to Mark’s post. Rereading it, I see that it doesn’t mention FlashDogs, the community of flash fiction writers of which Mark is a linchpin and I am very proud to be a member. A time before FlashDogs seems very distant indeed! Don’t be deceived by Mark’s modesty; he is an excellent writer, by turns dark and hilarious (and sometimes both at once). If you follow the link above you’ll find his blog; go and have a read, it’s well worth it.
And now to the questions…
What am I working on?
I try to write a flash fiction story every week. In addition to that, I’m editing my first draft of an upper-middle grade novel. This came from an attempt to write a children’s short story for the Cheshire Prize for Literature. The more I edited, the more I realised that there was a heck of a lot more story to put in. 46500 words later, I’m editing and trying desperately not to add any more (and yes, I did enter the Cheshire Prize, with something completely different which is being published later this year).
As well as the editing, which proceeds in fits and starts and involves researching various strange and disparate topics, I’ve started outlining a book for grown-ups…and I have the basic plot down for a book 2 and 3 of the draft I’m editing…and I have an idea for an early middle grade book which I’m sketching the characters for…and today something came into my head about an anthology of linked short stories…and there’s all the story ideas sitting waiting in Evernote for me… It’s not that I’m easily distracted, honest.
How does my work differ from others of its genre?
I don’t think my writing is within a particular genre; I wrote my first short story for a very long time last April, so I am still very much exploring what I like writing, what seems to work, and what readers like best. Looking at things I’ve written lately, a common factor seems to be that they’re perhaps one or two steps away from normal. A theme pub in space; a dress with a mind of its own; a story narrated by the Internet of Things.
Why do I write what I write?
Great question…who knows what goes on in my warped brain? Factors which probably influence it are:
- I was an only child, so I spent quite a lot of time reading
- I had a pretty conventional, not to say old-fashioned, education. I did English, History and Latin at A-level (I know), and then I did an English degree and a master’s in Victorian Literature, so I spent a lot of time reading the canon (except the seventeenth century, I managed to avoid most of that). All of that is swimming around in my head somewhere. I wish it had a better effect on my prose
- I have the sort of brain which makes connections and jumps and remembers strange little snippets of information (nothing useful, though)
But usually what happens is that I see a prompt and something jumps into my head, and I know that I have to write it.
How does my writing process work?
It’s almost entirely electronic. If I get an idea, it goes onto Evernote so that I can pick it up from whatever device is nearest when I get time to write. Some of the ideas sit for ages until I have a way to get into the story. I sometimes scribble on paper to sketch a structure, but that’s about it.
I write whenever I have time and an idea on the go. Sometimes that’s ten minutes at lunchtime at work, or typing into my phone on the tram, or at home on the computer in the evening, or sat outside one of the kids’ activities. So long as someone isn’t having a conversation with me, I can write (I won’t vouch for the quality though). I found Scrivener at the start of writing the book I’m editing, and it’s great; I’d recommend it to anyone writing a longer piece. For short stories, I find Word or Evernote fine to use.
I like editing but I find it harder to settle to than writing; with writing, you can get it all down and think ‘I’ll fix it when I edit’. Once I’ve got into it, though, time passes in a flash. I usually print out and edit, and sometimes read it out to myself to see if it flows. I haven’t got to the point of really detailed editing on the novel yet (still fixing the big things)…so how that works remains to be seen.
Passing the baton
And now the fun bit! Here are my nominations to carry on the Writing Process Blog Tour. All three are fantastic writers whom I’ve met online through their stories at Flash!Friday, and Pam and I also edited each other’s stories for the FlashDogs anthology – nothing but a pleasure for me, who knows what Pam will say?!
Why not visit their blogs, sample their writing, and get to know them while they’re writing the next Blog Tour instalment:
The featured image is ink jar and quills by Charles Stanford, reproduced by permission of Creative Commons license 2.0. The image is unchanged except that I cropped it slightly to show more of the ink jar!