Getting round to things. Those days—or for me, weeks, months, years—when you don’t get done those things you really want or need to do. I’m not talking about ordinary, everyday, common-or-garden procrastination; this goes way beyond that. I’m talking about those things that haunt your mind—you know you need to get to them—but somehow you just don’t.
Have you got boxes in your attic/dungeon/guest bedroom that have been there since you moved in? Less than a year doesn’t count, btw. That’s still more or less new. I’m talking about the really old ones you never forget—their very presence lurks just beyond the fringes of your perception. Their soft siren-calls come to you in the dead of night… ‘Don’t you…forget about me…’ (thanks to Billy Idol for that one.)
I’ve got stories that have been waiting for revision since the mid-1990s. In fact, I probably have some from the 1980s, or even earlier but I’m too scared to look. The knowledge that, unless I act now, in a couple of years those dusty old scripts will be able to club together and buy me a silver anniversary card is enough of a prod to make me actually prise open the drawers and start pulling out all those yellowed pages. And start reading.
What was I afraid of? I’ve no idea. All I can say is, I’m reasonably happy with what I read. Not full-blown, “Wow, I’m The MostBrilliant Writer EVER!” happy, but a quietly confident, “I don’t suck as much as I thought, and I can absolutely do something with this” happy.
As I said a couple of years ago, that for me 2015 is the year of writing dangerously. But in the end that was only the start of it all, not just of a year of extra effort, but of a new way of looking at my life and my approach to writing. Some of the dust-covers have had to come off for that. And as I pull off the dust-covers, underneath I behold…new ideas, fresh thoughts…twenty, even thirty years old it’s true, but fresh and new, and still so, so me.
And the things that made me stumble and give up all those years ago—plot holes, problems with language and expression—now, solutions quickly present themselves, the difficulties erased by time, a fresh eye, and above all else, experience. Suddenly, as the kaleidoscope of my mind turns on these ideas, things begin to slot into place and a picture is formed.
Which shows, sometimes it is better to wait. It ain’t over till it’s over.
Yes folks I’m really on tour – okay, I’m virtually on tour! And from the comfort of my very own computer!
The lovely Judith Cranswick, crime writer extraordinaire, generously invited me to take part in my first ever blog hop – thank you Judith! I urge you all to check out Judith’s books, too, I can tell you from personal experience they are a fab read, especially if you love mystery or crime. Here is her blog so you can find out more: http://www.judithcranswick.co.uk/
This blog hop/tour/extravaganza thingy focuses on The Writing Process, and each week two writers share their insights and experiences about their own writing process. So welcome to mine! Further down this page, I will be introducing the two brilliant people I have invited (bullied and cajoled) into taking part next week! And as if that isn’t enough, you can hop over to:
A: I’m working on two main projects at the moment. The first is the third book in my Posh Hits trilogy, working title is “Check Mate”, due for release in 2015. The trilogy is about a well-to-do young woman, Cressida Barker Powell, who decides to kill her mother-in-law, basically just because she hates her and her interference. Unfortunately, things don’t go according to plan and pretty soon the body count begins to rack up. The other book I’m working on is a different series, and hopefully this will also be a trilogy, although I must admit at the moment it’s giving me quite a bit of trouble so about twenty times a day I’m tempted to just throw it away. The working title for this one is Miss Burkett Changes Her Mind. It’s a cozy mystery, set in the 1960s, and Miss Burkett is the detective in question. She is very young, only 20, and following the death of her beloved great aunt, Miss Burkett decides to emulate the old lady and become a ‘private inquiry agent’. This book features her first case, and will hopefully be out next year. I also write short stories and life pieces.
Q: How does your work differ from others in its genre?
A: That’s a tricky one as I’ve found it quite tough to categorize the Posh Hits trilogy. I’ve gone for murder mystery, but because they are told in an epistolary style, sometimes there’s not too much ‘mystery’ about whodunit in the traditional sense. They are a bit like a chick-lit novel too, in that they are chatty and we are given all Cressida’s thoughts and feelings. I hope that they are darkly humorous, and that although she is a monster, Cressida is also very likeable and caring. But she really is a monster! Miss Burkett is a traditionally styled murder mystery, but she is much younger than most detectives, and is very much learning as she goes. Unlike many old-school mysteries, she’s very open to people from a different background – I have tried to draw on my own experiences as a child growing in up in a rapidly-changing Britain in the 1960s for this.
Q: Why do you write what you do?
A: I love to read. I suppose we all do. So a lot of what I write is inspired by or because of the things I have read that have influenced me. Miss Burkett came out of my enjoyment of the books by the now largely forgotten mystery writer, Patricia Wentworth, whose books I absolutely love. In fact Josephine Burkett is the great-niece of Miss Silver, Wentworth’s detective, and the story largely grew from me wondering about how the little girl mentioned in the books would grow up and what she would do with her life. The Posh Hits stories were simply a bit of fun with turning on its head the idea of the protagonist as a hero. I wanted to write about someone who wasn’t very nice. And I wanted her to literally get away with murder. No one ever seems to figure out what’s going on in the Posh Hits stories!
Q: How does your writing process work?
A: I write well in a café, away from the temptations of home. I also write well under pressure, because if I’ve got oodles of time and no deadline, I waste a lot of time day dreaming and procrastinating. I find it hard to organize myself. But basically I mull over an idea for weeks, sometimes months or even years before I begin to write. And then I usually just plunge straight in. After ten or twenty thousand words I realize I’m writing ‘Mr XXX said’ because I’ve forgotten all the names of the minor characters, so that’s when I stop and do a bit of mild planning and a list of characters. I write long hand and then type up, doing a little editing as I go, then I go back and edit and rewrite another two or three times. It takes ages! Unlike many writers, I hate writing the first draft and love the subsequent drafts.
Phew – that was a bit nerve-wracking! I’m a little bit glad it’s over, and a little bit excited to do another one – like a kid at the funfair! Once again, my thanks to Judith Cranswick: http://www.judithcranswick.co.uk/
Now next Monday – 7th of July, these two lovely people will be continuing the fun and mayhem on their own blogs: Maria Constantine and Kev Heritage.
First up, Maria Constantine:
Maria’s debut novel, ‘My Big Greek Family’, was published in October 2013. She writes commercial women’s fiction and draws much inspiration from her dual cultural background. Maria lives in London and is working on the next book in the series. She can be found on Facebook, Goodreads and Twitter.
Kev Heritage is a writer of Sci-Fi, Epic Fantasy & Paranormal Mysteries, including the brilliant The Cowl (Ironscythe Sagas) and Blue Into the Rip. Don’t forget to take a look at his website, Kev will be posting his writing process blog on Monday 7th July and you can see it here: