Blog tour: I’m not a well-behaved writer

Last week, Martha Kennedy nominated me as one of the next stops on a Blog Tour. And since I admire her writing, outlook and intelligence enormously, how could I refuse? So here are my answers to the four questions, and to carry on the good work, I’m nominating
Chris Donner
Brian Marggraf
I hope they enjoy themselves as much as I have!

What am I working on at the moment?
This is eminently depressing.

Writing sits unchallenged at the top of my list of favourite things to do. Forget classy dinners, champagne cocktails, movie premieres and balloon flights, I’d probably be writing about them in my head as I went.
Everything about writing makes me fizz: the characters, the sentences, the words – all to be shaped and moulded and played with and moved about until they tango or polka or drift or blow up… Not that I necessarily get it right, but the sheer fun of it is completely addictive.
So now I’m going through withdrawal.
What I’m hoping is that while I’m sloping about doing not much, my subconscious is beavering away with the idea and the characters I’ve given it, working out what might pass for a storyline. It throws me a crumb or two from time to time, but so far, not enough.

How does my writing differ from others of its genre?
They’re published, I’m not.

Why do I write what I do?
I write fluff. Not chic lit, bodice-ripping fluff – although I did have a go at Mills and Boone once, when I was unemployed and desperate. It’s an art in itself, and one I couldn’t master – possibly because it made me laugh too much. Anyway, the fluff I write is more along the lines of… I don’t know. People doing stuff?
I’ve never aspired to the heights of the ‘The Great Australian Novel’, read and applauded by the intelligentsia and literati, partly because I probably couldn’t do it, but mostly because it’s a fairly elitist exercise that doesn’t appeal to me. Writing is about communication. It’s always been my ambition to create those aha! moments: the light-bulb moments where someone articulates what you’ve vaguely known but never quite pinned down. No point in aiming that at those more interested in critical technique, is there?

How does my writing process work?
Full gallop or full stop, mainly.
I wrote my last novel in winter. I hate winter. I was bored, depressed and grumpy, and writing seemed like the perfect antidote.
Once again, I’d had the idea and the characters rattling around for a while, but I’m truly hopeless at plotting, so I decided I’d just have to get on with it and hope for the best. It turned out to be a gallop job. In fact I became so immersed that I almost corrected someone who told me to come back on Friday, by saying ‘But that will be Christmas Day’ – which it would be in my fantasy world. Not a good look!
I don’t think I have a writing process. Certainly not one writers’ manuals would recognise. I do make notes as I go along to save time scuffling around for continuity details, but other than that, it’s more bull-at-a-gate with pauses for thought, as and when the mood takes me. I also rewrite as I go along – not recommended, I don’t think, but I reread a lot, and if something needs fixing, I can’t resist having a go. When I get to what I think is the end, I reread and rewrite until I can’t see the wood for the trees, and then I send it to my sister, whom I trust implicitly to be brutally honest.
I also sent my last effort to a professional assessor, who was well worth the money, but sadly, all the agents I’ve approached remain singularly unco-operative.

But I soldier on, bloody but unbowed. It’s simple, really. If I stopped, I’d be so depressed I’d have to shoot myself.

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13 Responses to Blog tour: I’m not a well-behaved writer

  1. bkpyett says:

    Helen, so pleased to read this post and know that you have ideas for the next book simmering away. Have you thought of self publishing?

    • Yes, but I know i’m not capable of the necessary self-promotion

      • Martha Kennedy says:

        It’s not even easy to know HOW. I don’t. I have a friend who’s a book promoter and truly it’s a different kind of person completely from the person who sits and writes a book. Anyway, I’m hoping she’ll be willing to help me with my new novel.

  2. The re-write thing is tricky isn’t it, I tried to do that Na Noo Na Noo thing and found the ‘can’t change once logged’ thing hugely frustrating, but then again, that’s why I’m wary of trying to write a book – I’d never get past the first chapter!

    • I’ve never tried that, but ‘can’t change’ would blow me off instantly.
      Don’t worry about not getting past the first chapter, what’s it matter? It’s huge fun until you get bogged down, and then you start another one!

  3. “It’s always been my ambition to create those aha! moments: the light-bulb moments where someone articulates what you’ve vaguely known but never quite pinned down.” I love that. And I understand it, too. I’ve started two novels and never finished them. Not that there isn’t hope.

    Keep writing from your heart. Soldier on!

  4. Martha Kennedy says:

    It is all about enjoying the journey — that’s really “all” there is! This was so much fun to read.

  5. Really enjoyed this post. Even though you don’t think you are writing you are – here, like your responses to writing prompts and this blog and we are enjoying being readers of it. I totally agree self-promotion is not a pursuit that most writers, writing being a solitary introverted pursuit, are good at.

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