We put our heart into what we do, us writers. We're not neutral producers of our work. We're a part of it. Feeling all the way, living the ups and downs.
Which can make the journey scary and tough.
You know what I'm talking about. An idea grabs you so you do some work on it, sketch it out, play with it, hone it, get it ready, then finally write it..
... and have good days and bad, when the words come happily, and when they won't come at all.
... then re-write, and re-write, and re-write, and re-write some more until it's ready for submission.
... and then wait. That horrible, dark, long and empty wait.
... almost inevitably for the rejections.Read more
I played a little game last week, for no better reason than curiosity and to get to know some important characters better.
It was my birthday meal, a dozen good friends gathered (all chaps, it was a boys' night), and I asked each to bring along their choice for their favourite song of all time.
The answers in a moment, along with my own, but first the point of this blog. I started thinking about the role of music in my writing and realised something interesting -
The kind of music I listen to when I'm writing is heavily influenced by what I'm working on.
If I'm writing action scenes, then I often listen to The Jam, The Clash or The Who - they just seem to fit the bill, all energy and power.
If indulging in a little scene setting and description, it's usually classical music I go for.
Love scenes will commonly require an operatic background. Again, it just feels right.Read more
Two relationships have come to their inevitable ends this week, and it's left me a little sad.
We'd been together for months, spent lots of time in each other's company, got rather close, but that's the way it goes in this writing life.
Allow me to introduce you to who I'm saying my goodbyes...
The small one in the foreground is the notebook I keep with me just about everywhere, and whip out for a scribble when an idea strikes. It's pocket sized, robust, and ideal for the job.
The larger one in the background is the formal A4 notebook, for the outlines of courses I'm giving, plus plans for stories, settings and characters.
I did something I probably shouldn't and went through them before putting them in the corner that full notebooks go in my study, and wow! Did that trigger some memories.Read more
A portion of garlic bread reminded me of an important writing lesson this week.
It must be one of the simplest of starters, yet it had a remarkable impact on both body and mind.
I was feeling hungry, and could smell it being prepared - it must be one of the most unmistakable of scents - and that prompted my stomach into a bubbling rapture.
The impact was so impressive that in the couple of minutes before the bread arrived, out came my trusty notebook and down was scribbled a few lines under the heading REMEMBER - HIT ALL THE SENSES WHEN CREATING A SCENE.
(I LIKE TO USE CAPITALS when I think I've had an important idea!)
It's something I emphasise when I'm teaching writing. In my view, too much description focuses on what we can see, but that's to risk missing out on some powerful weapons in an author's armoury.
What about the sounds of a place - knives on plates, the clink of glasses, and the feel - the roughness of the old wooden table, the smooth cool of the stone walls etc?Read more