Writing Process Blog Hop

A great idea whereby you get an insight into how and what makes writers write. I jumped on the bandwagon after the lovely 
Jessica Bloczynski  did  a post on her blog, which you can find here: http://maniacmarmoset.wordpress.com/

Anyone who’d like to be tagged to do this, please let me know 🙂

What am I working on?

Currently, I’m working on my first ‘proper’ novel, titled Far From the Tree. Although I’ve been writing since I could pick up a pen, in a variety of different forms and genres, this is the first project I’ve taken total ownership of in terms of character, setting and genre. It’s also the first time I’ve banned myself from working on any other form of creative writing until this one is finished, which has really concentrated my mind! FFTT is a contemporary romantic novel set in the English county of Somerset, about a widow and a cider farmer. It’s also the first of my newly invented subgenre, ruralmance. I’m currently at 110,000 words, and working on the tricky third act. Although I know roughly where I’m going to take the next two books after this one, I’m not writing anything down for them until FFTT is done and dusted.

Why do I write what I do?

I always distrusted the mantra of ‘write what you know’, until now. I’ve spent most of my adult life trying to tune in to an original idea, only to be thwarted by lack of knowledge about my chosen subjects and characters. I also wrongly thought that my inspiration would come from one geographical area, the countryside of Hampshire where I spent my early years, when all along it was the Somerset of my teens and adult life that spurred me on to write this novel. It’s taken me twenty years to fall in love with Somerset and call it my home, but now I have, I want to write my version of its characters, quirks, customs and landscape, all wrapped up in a heart-thumpingly sexy narrative. And, as a lot of writers seem to say, once these characters made themselves known to me, I couldn’t not tell their story.

In terms of genre, I’ve always been a lover of romantic fiction, and I grew up reading Jane Austen and Jilly Cooper, with a dose of Jackie Collins and the Bronte sisters for good measure. Strong, alpha males who fall hopelessly in love with passionate, beautiful women against the odds were my guilty pleasure, and so it stands to reason that I’d want to write about them. That tends to imply I’ve spent my entire life reading romance, which certainly isn’t true – I’ve got a rather impressive back catalogue that spans most things from Ulysses to A Clockwork Orange, with a liberal smattering of Tom Clancy, Charles Dickens, Victoria Connelly, Margaret Atwood and Joseph Conrad to boot, but in terms of writing, I’m a romance girl. Even my fanfiction tends to be romance driven!

As a teacher of English, I’ve also spent my professional life studying words; both those of authors and those of my students, so I feel this gives me a really good grounding to actually write something substantial. A lot of the rules I tell my students to observe, though, I’ve wilfully broken while writing this novel. Like planning everything first, for example…

How does my writing process work?

Heh. Before this particular project, I’d have said ‘I plan it out, I write it, I revise it.’ Well, the planning bit didn’t happen much for this one, but it’s turned out to be the longest, most coherent thing I’ve ever written, so obviously sometimes rules are meant to be broken.  Basically, after one of my main characters walked into my head in January, and I spent two weeks just thinking about them, I started writing a story that was totally out of sequence. I wrote the bits I wanted to write for, ooh, about five months, and now I’m stringing 110,000 words together. And that actual, physical writing process wasn’t a continuous stretch of time each day (apart from the odd, blissful sojourn in a coffee shop or two when the children were at nursery and I happened not to be at work!). Oh no. It was five to ten minutes throughout days mostly filled by a four year old and a six month old baby, and the odd hour when my husband was cooking dinner. Maternity leave helped, definitely, as does having an open plan lounge-study-dining room space, as I could keep an eye on the sprogs while sneaking in a few hundred words here and there, and plotting and planning (in my head) was a useful way to stay awake during the night feeds!

Now, as I’m nearing completion of the first draft, the real challenge begins. Although I’m fairly confident about the quality of my writing, I think editing will show me a whole new set of things to improve and develop. After a decent period of time away from the story, I’m looking forward to holding a printed out manuscript in my hands, with a pencil, and doing that actual physical thing of writing notes and crossing stuff out. Hopefully, the finished product will be good to go by Christmas, and then it’s on to the next one!

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