Tag Archives: New Writing North

**Running in Circles Blog Tour**

 

Today we welcome to the blog Claire Gray to the blog as part of the blog tour to celebrate the release of her new novel ‘Running in Circles‘.


Claire Gray lives in
 the South Lakes with her husband and two small children. She studied Creative Writing at the Cumbria Institute of the Arts. She graduated in 2006 and then went on to complete a journalism course at Darlington College. 


That same year
, Claire won a Northern Promise Award from New Writing North, and her work was featured in their anthology, ‘Ten Years On‘. Claire now works as a freelance copywriter and continues to write short stories, some of which have been published in magazines and online. 


Sapere Books published ‘Running in Circles‘ in 2019 and Claire is really excited to have published her first novel!
My thanks to Claire for sharing her experiences with us.


Vic x

Don’t Quit the Day Job: 
Claire Gray

It’s difficult for novelists to make a living purely through their writing. I’m probably only a Google search away from the official statistics, but I would guess only a tiny percentage of authors are able to sit at their desks every day, working on their latest manuscript, without worrying about paying the heating bill or feeding the kids. 


Many
 novelists supplement their income by working in education, or by editing other people’s work or writing for newspapers and magazines. That’s the tier of professional writing that I aspiring to reach, and it still seems very far away. But I don’t think it’s necessarily bad to be in the position that I, and many other writers, are in. We’re the writers who have day jobs; jobs completely unrelated to the creative work we do. While it can be challenging in terms of time management, and occasionally dispiriting because of how far removed it is from what we really want to be doing, having a day job is valuable. To write you need to have life experience. Working is one of the most natural ways to achieve this. 


I studied Creative Writing at college and then found myself
 working in betting shops across Cumbria and the north-east. What started as a weekend job rapidly became full-time as I realised (and probably should have realised much earlier) that Creative Writing is not a vocational course. But it wasn’t all bad. I met some interesting characters amongst the staff and the customers. There was a period in Newcastle-upon-Tyne where I narrowly missed a number of armed robberies, which was horrible but also great fuel for short stories. One of my co-workers was a published poet, and I still have the signed book he gave me as a leaving present. The writing and gambling industries seem to go well together, somehow. 


Eventually
, I enrolled on a Journalism course at Darlington College. Once all the exams were over I was qualified to work as a junior reporter. For various reasons, this didn’t happen. I’d moved to North Devon with my husband who was in the Royal Marines, and there weren’t many local newspapers or junior reporting jobs around. But I’ve worked as a freelance copywriter and my journalism training was certainly not a waste of time. I discovered the power of an opening sentence, how to firmly grab the reader’s attention, and the importance of editing. The main characters in my novel are journalists, and it is good to have background knowledge about the industry.


Since then I have moved around the country a fair bit, working on my novel, doing the odd piece of copywriting, and working in a succession of NHS administration j
obs. Much like the betting shop period of my life, this is a line of work I fell into accidentally, but somehow it stuck. I like working for the NHS because I feel like I’m doing something worthwhile, and it is inherently unpredictable; things rarely get dull. There are stories everywhere inside hospitals. You hear about, and see, some horrible things and some wonderful things. These polar opposites help to fuel my writing when I find time to switch on my laptop in the evenings. 

 

Running in Circles‘ is available now.

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Guest Post: Fifty Shades of Jealousy? (AKA Fifty Shades of Who Gives a S***) by Eileen Wharton

Fifty Shades of Jealousy?

By Eileen Wharton

Ok, it might seem like I’m jealous or bitter or both. And maybe on some level I am (Who am I trying to kid? On most levels I am). I would certainly like to have sold 2 million copies of my novel. I would positively relish everyone talking about the characters I created and I would definitely love to be counting the coins as they roll in. I’m sure I could have written a novel similar to ‘Fifty Shades of Grey’ (it reads as a first draft, just count the adverbs!)  However I am not very good at writing sex scenes. It’s incredible really cos I’m amazing at sex. It’s just that when I begin to write sex scenes it’s like total porn! There’s no Mills and Boon type romance, no fifties film star sex scenes: a flash of a shin and a bra strap. It’s all dripping sexes and bulbous heads, not to mention threesomes, felching and Mongolian clusterfucks. (Sorry, I wasn’t supposed to mention them.)

Much to my chagrin (notice the cliché of the type used in said novel), I found Mr Grey incredibly tame and Fifty Shades indelibly boring. Sorry EL James. Also it did nothing for Women’s lib. Having married into a male chauvinistic society, I realise some males’ necessity for total dominance. Tell you how to dress, move, think… The fact that Mr Grey had money and was able buy Anastasia anything she wanted (or didn’t want) didn’t fool me. It maybe appeals to some women’s desire to be ‘kept’ and dominated. Domination in the bedroom I have no problems with but men who want to control every aspect of their women’s lives fill me with dread. I know it’s only fiction and escapism but it really isn’t setting a good example to young girls or us old girls for that matter. (BTW ‘the contract’ was laughable.)

I do like to support other writers and am often genuinely thrilled when I hear of someone doing well but as a struggling writer it’s hard not to envy the success of others. I write children’s books as well as novels for adults and every time I come to the end of a story and get ready to send it out for publication I groan as I discover that Jacqueline Wilson has beaten me to it. Are there no issues the woman hasn’t covered? Don’t get me wrong I admire her and have enjoyed many of the books she’s written but I like to write issue-based books for kids and she’s written them all!

And don’t get me started on Julia Donaldson. They tell us don’t write in rhyme, and then I find that all the time, Mrs Donaldson does just that and is pulling money out of a hat. Ok, it’s not my forte  soI should leave that alone. But you can’t turn round in Tesco without being accosted by one of Julia’s creations. I’m surprised there’s room on the shelf for scotch rolls. Speaking of which I haven’t had breakfast. Back in a mo….

I don’t even need to mention JK Rowling. The amount of times people have said to me, when they learn that I write, ‘Ooh you could be the next JK Rowling.’ People honestly believe that most writers are rolling in it, swanning about in scarves, clutching quill pens, signing books and counting their gold. If only…

I’ve been writing seriously for about twelve years and have so far earned approximately £2350, which works out as £195.83 per year. Maths is not my strong point but it equates to about 20p per hour. (Two thousand of that was an award from New Writing North.)

You get my point though. Writing is tough. There are far more rejections than acceptances (unless you are one of the above.) If I had more sense I probably wouldn’t do it.  I have no idea what drives me. All I know is that I have to do it. I am determined to make a success of it and my envy only spurs me on in the hope that one day a struggling writer will blog about their jealousy of my success.