I’ve been invited by one of my writer friends, Helen MacKinven, to take part in a series of blog posts where writers nominate others to answer four key questions about their writing process. It’s a great idea, and it’s always interesting to hear from other authors about how, what, where, when and why they write. My answers could be the exception that proves the rule! Helen’s answers, however, are very interesting and you can read them HERE
And now you can read my answers below…
What am I working on?
I’m writing the first draft of a novel – well, not right now, obviously, as I’m writing this blog – but that’s what I’m working on. I’d previously written a trilogy of historical novels, and then more recently a non-fiction book, Read All About It, which details my year of trying to fall in love with literature again. So now I want to write something a bit more contemporary. It’s set in South America, which is all I’m prepared to tell you at this precise moment. ‘Write what you know’ is one of the first pieces of advice given to writers, so I’ve decided to totally ignore that and just go for it with this novel! I stumbled upon the idea when I was doing research for another potential novel, and it stuck in my head to the point where I felt I had to start writing it as much as wanting to write it. I’m also trying to put together a collection of short stories inspired by Duran Duran song titles. And that’s not a joke, by the way! I’m trying to combine my love of writing and Duran Duran’s music into the perfect short story collection (for me!). How can I possibly fail?
How does my work differ from others of its genre?
Well, in the genre of short stories inspired by Duran Duran song titles, I believe that I am a trailblazer. I have to admit that I’ve never really targeted a particular genre when writing. My novels were historical fiction simply because that was the story I thought of. Occasionally, when I’ve sat bemoaning my lack of commercial success with my novels, I’ve been tempted to go down the road of writing something in a genre that seems to sell well – crime or romance. But I quickly realise that’s not the right way to approach writing. In fact, it’s completely the wrong way since I’m sure my story will lack conviction and readers would see right through it. So I just write what inspires me and live in hope that the next big thing in publishing will be short stories inspired by Duran Duran song titles.
Why do I write what I do?
I’m guessing that, like most writers, I write books that I’d like to read. Actually I write books that I hope other people will like to read. I’m still guilty of getting an idea for a novel and thinking that it’s the greatest idea ever. My mind starts imagining that the whole world will want to read it and I’ll be showered with Booker Prizes and Nobel Prizes and all sorts of prizes. And I start writing with a real sense of enthusiasm which, as anyone will tell you, is always hard to sustain. I have to keep telling myself to take it one idea at a time.
How does my writing process work?
I like to have a plan before I start writing. It doesn’t necessarily have to be too detailed, but I find it helpful to refer to it every now and then, and it’s more of a guide rather than something set in stone. The story invariably changes as I’m writing. In terms of actually writing, I try to write early in the morning or at night, but there are not enough hours in the day. Well, there are, but I can’t devote them all to my own writing. I’m always envious of those lucky people who are able to devote all their time to their own writing, and also more than a little irritated when I hear them moaning about all the ‘work’ they have to do. Oh to be so lucky.
And now the virtual ‘baton’ is passed to Margot McCuaig to write the next blog post. Margot is a friend of mine who wrote a wonderful novel, The Birds That Never Flew, which came out last year. You really should read it. You should also follow her on Twitter @MargotMcCuaig even if only for her morning weather reports which, in 140 characters, make the Glasgow weather poetic and almost Here are a few more words about Margot…
Margot McCuaig’s debut novel ‘The Birds That Never Flew’ was shortlisted for the Dundee International Book Prize in 2012 and was published in 2013. She is currently writing her second novel. She also writes, produces and directs for television and chats a wee bit about herself and her world HERE