So I have been tagged by the lovely Joanne MacGregor in a Writing Process Blog Tour. Which is very intimidating for two reasons. The first is that she is awfully clever at blogging and does things like saying, “You can read this here” and you can click on “here” and go to a whole new place.
Me – I’ve got to do it like this:
You can read Joanne’s blog here: http://www.joannemacgregor.com/blog/.
The second reason that Joanne’s tagging is intimidating is that she answered the questions so WELL. She had such interesting things to say, and said them so lucidly. And me? Well, you can be the judge. . .
1. What am I working on?
I’m working on the first draft of what will hopefully be my third published novel. Last year, I spent a lot of my writing time on an Advertising Law text book which is my day-job area of expertise, but the writing drained my soul. The book comes out in the next few months and the irony is I’ll probably earn more from it than any fiction – but I am so happy to be back to writing fiction.
2. How does my work differ from other(s) in the genre?
I hate having to actually label my genre – but it is that thing called Woman’s Fiction or Contemporary Fiction or – my favourite at the moment – Book Club Reads. I write stories of people’s lives; and about what happens after “happily ever after”.
My books are set in South Africa – specifically in the Northern Suburbs of Johannesburg. But they are not political nor filled with political angst. They are stories of people that happen to take place against a more interesting backdrop than some other countries might offer. And I like to think that I am a little bit funnier than a lot of writers in my genre, because while I don’t write comedy, you should laugh out loud once or twice. . .
3. Why do I write what I write?
That one is easy – I write the type of book that I like to read.
When I started, I sat down to write a great novel. Didn’t write a word.
So instead, I thought about that feeling when you finish a book and you think, “I could have done better”. I focussed on doing that – writing a book that was just a bit better than some of the rubbish I’ve read. I finished it. You’re never going to read it though. . . it’s okay but not particularly special; but after that I had the confidence to write a better book – the book that became my first novel, Marriage Vows.
4. How does my individual writing process work?
From a plotting point of view, I like to know the arc of my plot before I start. So I know how the story will end, and I know where I want to be midway (at about 40 000 words). The details and the subplots come as I write and often surprise me, but I need that basic framework to stay on track.
I try to write 500 words a day. But I have my own legal consultancy and I have two young children, so finding the time is sometimes a challenge. When the kids were smaller, I was too tired to write at night but recently I have started again with great success on the whole. I think it is so important to have a realistic goal – if you have a full time job and then try to write 2000 words a day you are basically setting yourself up for failure. Another good tip I once read is always to stop when you still have something to say so that you return to your page with excitement and ideas.
In recent years I have also learnt the extreme pleasure and support one gets from a writers’ community. I have a Writers’ Group that meets monthly and I have two writing “besties” – we check in with each other every Sunday to see how we have done for the week. Actually, you can watch that happen because we do it on Twitter under the hashtag #writersgym. It’s a great motivation although I confess that right at this moment I have given myself two weeks off because my day job is having a busy spurt and I was writing poorly. I’d advise any aspiring or – and perhaps more importantly – newly published writer to become involved in the community of writers. There is something comforting about the idea of us all hammering out those words!
So now I have to tag some writers to carry this Writing Process Blog Tour forward. They will each answer the questions, and then tag other writers in turn!
Steven Boykey Sidley is a wonderful (and intimidatingly fast) writer who is also extremely supportive of the writing community. I appeared on a panel with him once and we make each other laugh, which is all one needs in a friend.
He blogs here: http://stevenboykeysidley.com/
And you can find him on Twitter @stevensidley.
Ekow Duker is the newest member of my Writers’ Group and is also an exceptional new talent on the SA writing scene. He is also quite one of the most charming people you can imagine.
He blogs here: http://www.ekowduker.com/
And his Twitter handle is @ekowduker.