Monthly Archives: February 2014

That First Draft Feeling

Interesting discussion on Twitter and http://rachaeldunlop.blogspot.co.uk/ about what happens when you come to the end of your first draft. Of course, there’s still loads of work to be done, but let’s celebrate each step! And gather writers around us who will celebrate with us.

Personally I thought I was gramping to the end of the first draft of the second novel in my series – The Art of Survival – and I’ve discovered another summit behind. There is more to do so that the story knits together. However, I trust the process, through writing and engaging with my characters we’ll get there together. And, in some ways, I’m glad we’re still roving along together, I’ve never been good at goodbyes, even temporary ones.

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Post Coastival

What a packed and vibrant weekend at Coastival (www.coastival.com) with music, dance, art, conversation… It was difficult to come back down to earth and get on with the writing, but I managed to do it.

I finally caught up with Hanif Kureshi’s interview on BBC’s Culture Show special. ‘Writers are trouble,’ he says. They deliberately thieve their own and anyone else’s lives for material, and to be a writer (Kureshi suggests) you mustn’t worry about the consequences. I would agree with the first part of this thesis, however, I’m not sure about the second half. I worry about the consequences. Does that make me less of a writer or more of a human being? I guess that’s a cruel thing to imply about Kureshi, but if he can dish it out, then he has to take it in too.

I’ve added a new poem to my poetry page. Please have a read, and comment if you like.

My Writing Process – The blog tour

So I have taken the baton for this grand tour of writers’ blogs, thank you to Judith Marshall for asking me to take part and see her blog at http://judithlesleymarshall.com/

The idea is that we all answer the same questions, so here are my responses.

What am I working on?
I have three very different projects on the go. Firstly, there is an article on embodied creative writing within the therapeutic environment which I am collaborating on with a friend and colleague. This is destined for an academic market. Secondly, I am doing some writing around Edith Sitwell for an article, workshop and performance celebrating her life and works in the 50th year since she died. And thirdly, I am working on a novel series in the crime genre.

How does my work differ from others of its genre?
Focusing on my series of novels, I would say that I am riffing off what others are doing within the genre, namely interweaving social observation into a plot driven by a problem posed by a crime. I am following on the heels of Sayers, Cleeves, Rankin, Atkinson, Paretsky, Rendell, Walters… and oh so many others who have dragged the genre into the modern era. As ever my preoccupations are: relationships; mental health; and writing. In the first book a psychotherapist gets murdered, but don’t tell my therapist that.

Why do I write what I do?
I write because I am enraptured by the process of playing with words and ideas. I write because I have to, I feel compelled to. I write because I want to be in communion with others. I write because when I don’t I feel less myself. I write because doing so helps me feel fulfilled and useful.

How does my writing process work?
I read A LOT. All writers must read and must read widely. I write pretty much every day in a writing journal. Here I write very freely, whatever comes, I don’t worry about making sense or having any purpose. A lot of what comes out is how I am feeling, along with observations, ideas, quotes, lines of poetry I’ve discovered, scraps of things I’ve found and reflections. Writing in my journal means that I am always experimenting, practising, limbering up. The contents of my now numerous journals are a treasure trove of starting points for writing that I may decide to share.

I always have two or three projects on the go and I usually make a six month plan detailing week by week how I am going to achieve what I want to do. So, for instance, this week I know I am working on Edith Sitwell and to do that I need to spend so much time researching/reading and so much time writing and I put those blocks of time into my diary. Once the plan is there, I rarely allow anything to intrude on my writing time.

Within this stringent time framework, I will write freely/organically. For my novels, I have had a cast of characters who I have got to know along the way and a loose plot but I have not known ‘who dunnit’ before I started. That has come out in the writing. I have discovered that what’s great about a series is that I have my characters and I can continue to live with them.

That’s enough from me. I will now pass the baton onto my writerly friends Julie Fairweather and Sue Spencer.

Julie Fairweather is a creative writer who allows her writing in progress the freedom to find its own form, though she tends to favour the short story genre. Julie completed an honours degree in creative writing in 2012 and last year published a collection of her short stories ‘Picking at the Bones’, available in digital form from http://www.amazon.co.uk/Picking-at-Bones-Julie-Fairweather-ebook/   Read more from Julie at Spinning Stories from the Secret Self on http://juliefairweather.co.uk/ 

Sue Spencer trained as a nurse at Addenbrooke’s Hospital, Cambridge in the early 80s. She worked as a District Nurse in London and Gateshead before becoming a Diabetes Specialist Nurse. Sue moved to her present job in 1996. In 2004 Sue met Julia Darling and her world has never been quite the same since. Poetry has become one of the most important guides in her life and Sue completed the MA Creative Writing in Poetry at Newcastle University in 2008.
Sue is determined to spread the word about the power of poetry whenever and wherever she can. She is currently developing a portfolio of workshops and activities that integrate her clinical, research and educational expertise with the creative arts in personal/ professional development and coaching. She is Senior Lecturer at Northumbria University, Newcastle Upon Tyne. Read more at: http://the-grumponthehill.blogspot.co.uk/

First Event in the Edith Sitwell Festival, Scarborough

1st March 2014, Writing from the Heart, creative writing workshop.

Some people believe poetry is something light and fluffy.  But we know that much of the very best poetry engages with drama, tragedy, conflict and controversy. How can you create poetry or poetic prose that speaks of things important to you in a  powerful way and would work in performance? Join us for examples and exercises to help you towards a piece written from the heart. Work with us and fellow group members to create a tapestry of such pieces. Our starting point is Still Falls the Rain, a seminal poem by Scarborough-born writer Edith Sitwell (1887-1964), an innovative, and sometimes inspiring, poet who deserves rediscovery.

Part of the Stephen Joseph Outreach Festival. Contact: 01723 370541 https://www.sjt.uk.com/