Monday, April 14, 2014

The Writing Process Blog Tour

I've been invited by Christine Findlay to take part in a blog tour about the different ways various writers approach their work. You can find Christine's answers to the following four questions here - and here for Ann Swinfen's answers.  

Right - here goes:

1. What am I working on?
For the last good number of years I would have had a quick and easy answer to this - I'm working on a children's novel.  Writing fiction for 5-7 year olds, 8-12 year olds, 11+ and YA has been my main focus, and will certainly be so again.  But at the moment I've carved a chunk of time out of all that to branch out into poetry and fiction for adults.  It's exciting! 

2. How does my work differ from others of its genre?
No two voices are the same, and the stories and poems that come out of my head are going to be different from the stories and poems that come out of anyone else's, because the head they came out of is different from anyone else's. So to speak.  

3. Why do I write what I do?
Stories and poems have a way of insisting.  

4. How does my writing process work?
Ideas have different sizes, shapes and approximate audiences.  I recognise a short 5-7 year old idea or a long multi-voiced adult novel idea, and then I write it.  

I start longhand, usually with the opening scenes.  Then I dot about the place, writing individual scenes as I see them, learning about the characters as I go.  When I start to slow down with this, I get everything onto the computer.  I'll work on the manuscript on the computer for a while, then I'll print it out and work on it that way for a while.  I've been known to cut up pieces of the paper manuscript and cellotape them in order, and then type the changes into the computer again.  Eventually I'll have a complete first draft - print it out, make changes, type it back in.  Continue until it's as good as I can get it.  Then it goes to my agent, who is a phenomenal editor.  Back to me for changes.  Then, with luck, the manuscript goes to a publisher, who will also edit it.  Back and forth it goes until, finally, it's as good as ALL of us can get it.

Job done.   


Interesting questions - thanks for reading!


Sunday, April 13, 2014

Wood, Water and Stone

I'm just back from a Quaker retreat at The Burn - a study centre near Edzell in Aberdeenshire, set in the most beautiful grounds with walks in all directions and the North Esk River on its doorstep.  Intrepid hiking ensued for some, but I chose peaceful pottering with my camera.   







It did me good.

Saturday, April 05, 2014

A Sensitivity of Tunnels


Today I am blogging at The History Girls - jumping into a bit more of the sort of thing I only got to toe-dip in The Hidden City.  That was a fun book to research, and such a great cover!  You'd like to see it again?  Happy to oblige:



Monday, March 31, 2014

NaPoWriMo Starts Tomorrow!


I did this last year - not on-line, just for me and a few inflictees - and I'm all geared up to do it again.  With two poetry projects about to kick off (as part of the BOOKMARK post and as all of the Hospitalfield House residency) I'd be daft not to!

Why not you too?  

Find out more here - and don't forget there are daily prompts on offer to use or ignore. 

Saturday, March 29, 2014

Red Brick Wall the Star


I couldn't make this photo of the ruined fernery at Hospitalfield House work until I cut out almost all the fernery and made the wall the star.  Which is what happens in editing fiction quite a lot.

Here endeth the lesson.

P.S.  I was over at Girls Heart Books this week, revisiting the whole cats and libraries theme.  I didn't take this photo (from 1902) but I wish I had.  Amazing fur!



Tuesday, March 25, 2014

Hospitalfield - The Paddock and the Fernery

I had a wonderful time grazing in the Hospitalfield House library and then, on a bright, cold, blowy March morning, they let me loose in the grounds ...









Now I let it all simmer till 23rd April.  

Sunday, March 23, 2014

New Convert to Pteridomania

At the beginning of this month I did something straight out of a P.G.Wodehouse - I joined in on a public tour of Hospitalfield House, where I will be staying for a 2-week Interdisciplinary Residency at the end of next month.  It wasn't so I could get close to the duke's secretary or steal a cow creamer.  It was because I'm afraid that those 2 weeks are going to pass way, way too quickly.  As a result of a fascinating afternoon, I have a much clearer picture of my project in my mind.  AND I found out about ferneries!




("Gathering Ferns" from The Illustrated London News July 1, 1871)



(Fernery at the Geelong Botanic Gardens in Australia (1892-1902))

I hadn't realised the Victorians were quite so fern crazy, but there is a ruined fernery at Hospitalfield House that has now taken up residence in my head.  More anon, as they say.

Tomorrow the Hospitalfield House people have kindly said I can come back for a few hours to use the library.  I'm really lucky to live close - and if you ever are in the neighbourhood, try a Wednesday Tour - wonderful!