My Writing Process is a series of blog posts in which authors ‘tag’ each other to answer some questions about their work. Thank you, as always, to the lovely Bea Davenport, author of ‘In Too Deep‘ and the forthcoming children’s novel ‘The Serpent House‘, for inviting me to take part.
What am I working on?
That’s an interesting question. I’m currently in my last three months of a PGCE so I am writing a lot of non-fiction, i.e. essays and lesson plans! However, I do run two writing groups a week and that helps me write at least twice in the week. I sometimes use the prompts I’ve given the other writers but a lot of the time, I spend that time working on an idea I’ve had. I have a lot of unfinished ideas and stories at the moment but my aim is to complete them one by one. I’m also preparing my unfinished novel for submission to a couple of great competitions I’ve seen advertised. I’ve promised myself that once the PGCE is done, I will try to complete the novel.
How does my work differ from others of its genre?
I find it quite difficult to define one particular genre that my stories fall into although my mum has said the alternative title for my collection of short stories could be ‘Stories to Slash Your Wrists To’ (the real title is ‘Letting Go‘). My short stories do tend to have a twist in them but I guess that’s what comes of reading Roald Dahl and Alan Bennett all your life! Now, I’m not saying I’ll ever be anywhere near as good as either but they have definitely influenced my writing.
I guess the novel I’ve been working on would fall into crime but it is quite different. It’s written in dialect and I don’t think any of the characters are particularly likable.
Why do I write what I do?
I think I write to provoke thought in my readers. For example, my short story ‘Dangerous Driving‘ is based on something that is really happening in the world at the moment. I don’t want to say too much as I don’t want to spoil the ending for anyone wanting to read it!
How does your writing process work?
Generally speaking, an idea will come to me – it could be the first line, the ending or something totally abstract that doesn’t end up in the final draft – and then I let it fester for months on end. I like to think about that idea and let it grow from there. I don’t like to get an idea and start writing straight away because some of those ideas seem great the minute you have them but then fizzle out at some point. I prefer to give the ideas time to prove themselves good or otherwise, kind of Darwinian in a way, I suppose. If the idea grows and remains at the forefront of my mind over a period of time, I will write it.
I remember when I did my Masters in Creative Writing, the lecturer said ‘Just let the characters go where they want to go.’ At the time, I thought ‘Is this guy for real? We’re the writers, the characters are ours to influence’ but, you know, he was absolutely right. Once you give yourself over to your characters and the story you are writing, they go where they want to go.
Thanks for reading about My Writing Process. I nominate the following talented writers to share their own approaches with us next week – and thanks to both of them for taking part:
Allison Davies: Alli is a writer based in Northumberland, UK. She’s a graduate of Northumbria University’s MA in Creative Writing where she went to finish a novel and ended up writing a screenplay. She now writes mostly for theatre. Alli has been shortlisted as ‘Newcomer of the Year’ in the Journal Culture Awards for her play ‘Weather to Fly‘. You can find her blog at http://foundpoet.com/wordpress/
Gill Hoffs: Gill Hoffs is a Scottish-accented Warrington-based writer of nonfiction and novels, short stories and long ‘uns, whose work has won several prizes and is widely available online and in print (see http://gillhoffs.wordpress.com for more info). Her first book ‘Wild: a collection‘ (Pure Slush, 2012) contained a short nonfiction piece on the anonymous Victorian orphan known as The Ocean Child, which led to her current book ‘The Sinking of RMS Tayleur: The Lost Story of the ‘Victorian Titanic’‘ being published by Pen & Sword. Feel free to email her with questions and offers of free Nutella at firstname.lastname@example.org or follow her on twitter as @GillHoffs