Well I’ve just joined the 21st century by attempting to join the blogging hordes. No idea why. Yes I do know why actually. I am a writer; I spend all day sitting at a PC writing, so why not spend yet more time here, ruining my eyes, getting repetitive strain injury, in my spare time?
I am hoping to link up with other writers I guess, and to hear about your trials and tribulations (cliche noted).
I’ve been writing as a freelancer for, well I guess about 12 years now, and make a reasonable living at it, but hey, how many of you out there have noticed that pay has not gone up in recent years, and editors want more stuff for nothing? Like using your articles forever on websites, or keeping rates the same year in year out? And advances on books – way down.
Anyway I don’t believe anyone sits writing all day because they seriously want to make money. Why do we write? Probably an over inflated ego and heightened sense of our own importance. There’s a great kick in knowing that someone, somewhere, is reading my words of wisdom. Perhaps it’s about connecting with other people – which brings me back to blogging I guess.
What am I writing? Well I am struggling to finish a book which is due with the publishers end of November (any excuse for procrastination – sorry I missed the deadline, I needed to write a blog). Non-fiction parenting books, that’s me.
However… I do want to write fiction too, and have just finished my first novel – or at least ground to a halt with it. It’s with my agent and so we’ll see. It was one of the hardest things I’ve done. When I started, I thought, this will be easy! No research, no fact checking, all the stuff that takes ages in non-fiction. The first 20,000 words were easy, but then it was like hitting the wall in the marathon. All those little gremlins popped up, “what self-indulgence! What makes you think you could write! This is utter crap!”
Perhaps it is utter crap, but in the end it was satisfying to write, and after another few thousand words, the characters wouldn’t let me give up anyway.
Since I’ve finished, I’ve been asked what the novel is about. I’ve now realised that I really cannot write good synopses and everything I’ve read about themes, etc has really thrown me. I have no idea what it is about. It just is. Every time I’ve tried to describe it, the person who I am describing it to has glazed over after a few seconds – not a good sign methinks. Anyone else had that problem? Or is it always obvious what it is about?
Actually when I think of some of the books I have enjoyed, not sure I could really say what they are “about”. Unless there is a really clever idea in there; like The Time Travellers Wife (do read if you have not done so – yes I know the first few pages are confusing, but stick with it) – ok that is about what happens if you can time travel – but is it? Really it is a love story first and foremost, but it’s also about free will. Time travel is just the landscape of the novel.
Another great book The Vanishing Act of Esme Lennox (if you have not yet read Maggie O’Farrell then you have not yet lived). You could say that it is about mental hospitals but doesn’t that sound boring and depressing? That again is its landscape. I guess it’s about family secrets.
Hey this is great, writing all this stream of consciousness has really helped. For anyone who is still reading (for god’s sake don’t you have anything better to do?) to describe your novel, try to differentiate between the landscape or setting, and the theme. Ok so my theme is relationships between men and women and how power affects this (might change my mind on this…)
Back to the beginning. To blog or not to blog. Yes it is useful to pour out a stream of consciousness like this. If anyone reads it and has something to say, even better.
(first published October 2007)
Additional thoughts: After this first blog was published I was really heartened by how many people responded! I made some interesting links with other writers.
I made the deadline with the publisher – that was for one of my Teach Yourself books. But the novel didn’t get published. It’s now in that infamous bottom drawer. I get it out and dust it off every now and then, but it still defeats me. Maybe having no theme was a big clue.