An exercise for the first day back at school, Becca calls it. And so here we go:
- Do you write fiction or non-fiction? Or both?
I write both fiction and non-fiction. I have been a non-fiction writer for as long as I can remember, writing reports, essays, research papers, etc. Some have been published, in journals, and even as a chapter in a book. It’s part of the day-job now and has been on and off over the last 10 years or so. In addition, I post blogs and reviews of books. I have an altogether different relationship with my fiction writing: that is something I really really want to do and somehow or other throughout my life I have never been focused enough to persevere; I have unfinished books and stories lying around, pushed to the back of drawers. I am very serious now though: that’s why I did the creative writing course and I am halfway through a novel, have a couple of stories stacked away and a story submitted.
- Do you keep a journal or a writing notebook?
I keep lots of journals, one for my novel, one or two for book reviews and small ones that come with me in handbags and on trains, in case I suddenly want to make a note of something….. On top of that I have a file on my computer.
- If you write fiction, do you know your characters’ goals, motivations, and conflicts before you start writing or is that something else you discover only after you start writing? Do you find books on plotting useful or harmful?
I think I know goals and motivations of my characters, however, often things turn out differently and I am surprised by a character suddenly pulling me into a different direction. I have found the odd ‘exercise’ book useful, but do not use such books or exercises in a consistent way at all. Working from books can be helpful but also uninspiring.
4. Are you a procrastinator or does the itch to write keep at you until you sit down and work?
I am a hopeless procrastinator, although at other times I just have to get out of bed or away from what I am doing to write down what’s forming inside my head. And then I can go on and on and on… It’s finding the time in a very busy day job which is mentally demanding and may keep me awake at night, that prevents me from keeping at it.
- Do you write in short bursts of creative energy, or can you sit down and write for hours at a time? .
I wish…. I wish I had oodles of time, to write for hours on end. However, the odd weekend, a Sunday morning or a Saturday may suddenly find me completely engrossed in writing. That has not happened for weeks though, not since the holidays. But I loved those holidays when I wrote every morning.
- Are you a morning or afternoon writer?
See above, I am definitely a morning writer: when my head is clean and uncluttered with extraneous things that distract me.
- Do you write with music/the noise of children/in a cafe or other public setting, or do you need complete silence to concentrate
I like silence, although I can write in an (anonymous) café with a cup of coffee or on a train, when no one is looking over my shoulder.
- Computer or longhand? (or typewriter?)
I do both, although computer is much faster. However, sometimes I just sit in chair or on a train and feel like writing. However, my handwriting is pretty abysmal and so I may end up not being able to read back what I’ve written – never a good idea!
- Do you know the ending before you type Chapter One? Or do you let the story evolve as you write?
Sometimes I do know the ending or what I want to get to, often the writing takes over though and I end up somewhere completely different.
- Does what’s selling in the market influence how and what you write?
No, not really. I know what I want to write about, women, different cultures and how women cope within them (or not!).
- Editing/Revision – love it or hate it?
It’s such a long job sometimes – never ending, and that’s when the doubt sets in and you think: oh no, not this, not like this, who will read this??? Cannot I do better??? It’s very much a love/hate relationship: on the one hand the urge to rewrite some of it, improving, sculpting, on the other hand, the self-doubt. On balance, I do enjoy editing and working on something and let new ideas find their way…