24 June 2011


In an emotional time I find words such an inadequate vehicle for feelings.

20 June 2011


I’ve been asked a few times if I enjoy writing.  Usually the word yes comes out of my mouth before I even think about the question deeply. 
I do love writing, but that doesn’t mean it’s always easy.  There are days when the words flow, ideas tumble over themselves to make it onto the page, and sub-plots or twists in the story come to me, and fit in so neatly I could believe I had consciously foreshadowed the event.
But there are other days, and if you’re a writer I’m sure you’ll know what I mean.  The ones when almost any other task is preferable to writing, the days you have to drag each word onto the page, and when characters are as wilful as a 2 year old in meltdown.
More truthfully I suppose I should say, I love having written.  The sense of accomplishment at a scene complete, the day’s word count met in record time, or some other quiet triumph.
If I waited until the muse, inspiration, or whatever you want to call it, struck, then I’d be waiting a long time.  I think success is only met by showing up everyday and getting stuck in.  Good day or not.  Creative juices flowing before you sit down, or not. 
Every writing session I tell myself I can’t publish a book if there aren’t any words on my page.

17 June 2011

The Next Big Thing

While I was in England I met a few people who’ve read Driftwood and it was great to get comments and feedback, even though most were people I knew, and so were just a little biased! 
The feedback was amazing, and sometimes surprising.  People read and see things through their life experiences and unique filters, and so their take on things was sometimes different to mine, or they saw facets of a character I hadn’t consciously intended, but were there.  Don’t you just love it when that happens?
One friend told me he’d tried reading Driftwood a couple of times but couldn’t get into it.  Not a problem as Driftwood is definitely more of a female storyline, and he lent Driftwood to a couple of female co-workers who did enjoy it.
On writing blogs there are sometimes questions asking what the next big thing is going to be, or what agents are looking for at the moment.
I've never been much good at second-guessing this kind of thing, and however good a book is, or however wonderful the writing might be, it isn’t going to suit everyone.
I think the only thing I can do is be true to myself, and write what I love and enjoy, hoping that others will love it, or at least appreciate it.

13 June 2011


The last post was about the plot of Driftwood and backstory.  One of the things I’ve enjoyed most in writing Lives Interrupted is that there are no huge swathes of backstory to hack away, mostly because the plot is about events that occur during the course of the novel, and of course I’ve learned a lot about backstory!
However, I still had to consider life before the story began.  Characters have to have a life prior to page one.  Think about meeting someone for the first time.  They don't just appear a minute before we're introduced.  They already have a wealth of experiences, friends and life lived before we meet them.  
We need to know the characters in our writing as well as we know ourselves.  Actually we need to know them better, as I think many of us have blind spots about our own characteristics, strengths and weaknesses, but that’s a post for a different kind of blog.
Think about your main characters.  What shaped them?  What events and/or people had a major impact on them?  In a positive way, or negative?  How do they feel about themselves?  How does this impact your story?

10 June 2011


The main storyline in Driftwood is linked to events that happened years before.  At the time I was writing the first draft I only had a passing acquaintance with backstory.  I'd heard of it, but knew I would never fall into that trap!  Everything in my manuscript was totally necessary!
After finishing a couple of drafts I was lucky enough to win an assessment through the Society of Authors.  One of the things the assessor, Loren Teague, pointed out in her report was the backstory.  Large clumps of it.  I took her advice seriously (on this as well as other points) and worked hard at another, probably a couple, of drafts.
Backstory, as the word implies, is information about things that happen prior to the start of the book, but is necessary for the understanding of the plot.  Necessary here is a relative term as many writers tend to think readers need more backstory not less.  I guess it’s about not trusting the reader to understand.  As a reader I'm irritated with too much backstory and tend to skim read it.  As a writer …

05 June 2011

Normal Service Resumed

I’m back in Aotearoa – Land of the Long White Cloud (New Zealand), and finally feeling human after the worst jetlag I’ve ever suffered.
Emotionally it has been an incredibly hard trip, which has probably got a lot to do with the jetlag, but enough of me, I've always wanted this blog to be about the writing rather than my general ramblings, so here goes...
I came across this article a few days ago on editing, and if you think the topic of editing is a continuing trend you’d be right.  I find writing a first draft a proverbial walk in the park, compared to the seemingly endless task of polishing and editing.