This is just so true. For me, the writing has to be done at the desk, surrounded by books, pictures, pens and paper, and most of all SILENCE.
But the ideas come to me suddenly, usually when I am outside the flat, staying somewhere else, or at the theatre, an exhibition, walking in the countryside, reading an article or a book. I think stability and familiarity are good for the actual writing process, but change, unusual environments and exploration do stimulate the production of ideas.
I call these "brainwaves" because they do come in waves, and I usually get ideas for several books at the same time.
During my recent stay in North Devon, I woke up at 6.30am and thought about the various ways I could sell/promote my books, then several plot lines for The Book of Thoth materialised in front of my eyes, and then some background biography details for some of the characters in The Right Place appeared out of nowhere.
I have two days of writing in front of me this week. Better make the most of it!
It's good timing, as I will be attending the British Library talk on THE STORY OF CRIME FICTION on February 8th.
Today, I will be making my way to the Queen Mary, University of London in Mile End to attend a talk on independent publishing with Steve Pottinger and Joolz Denby from Ignite Books. Then afterwards, it will be an evening of poetry readings. And I am going to purchase some more books, of course! I am hoping to have pictures to post on here over the weekend.
Tonight, I will be in London, more precisely at St Sepulchre-without-Newgate in Holborn, because it's that time of the year again and the fabulous Mediaeval Baebes will be back in town! This will be the last date of their traditional Christmas cathedral tour.
I am hoping to post a few pictures later on this weekend.
For my blog about last year's concert, go HERE.
The band's line-up is ever changing, and therefore there will be a few new baebes in the house tonight (and a new album to purchase!)
Why, BOOKS of course!
Even though my "TO READ" shelves are crumbling under the weight of the volumes I have put on them, here comes another exciting pile of lovely reading material!
Can't wait to get started!
Also, a lovely little booklet entitled Writing London by the rather fab HERB LESTER ASSOCIATES containing an illustrated map and short paragraphs detailing the link between authors and places.
This morning, I woke up with a massive brainwave taking over my thoughts... All of a sudden, I had all those ideas for my third book, The Right Place. So I had to get up and scribble like mad until I had put everything on paper.
I have defined some of my characters a little better and added some details about the background story. More of this, please!
Holidays are definitively good for brain activity.
I found that fantastic extract in The Crimson Petal and The White. This is supposed to be a medical pamphlet the main character, Sugar, finds in the public library's reading room (in 1875). This reminds me of why I am who I am. I am not "healthy wife material", THANKFULLY!
No woman can be a serious thinker, without injury to her function as the conceiver and mother of children. Too often, the female "intellectual" is a youthful invalid or virtual hermaphrodite, who might otherwise have been a healthy wife.
Oh, and another one:
There is no more sombre enemy of good art than the pram in the hall.
Here are a few pictures of Fields of the Nephilim gig at the Shepherd's Bush Empire - Wednesday 31st October 2012.
Carl McCoy looked his usual fascinating self. I wonder whether he has discovered the elixir of life...
For setlist and everything Fields of the Nephilim related, check out the excellent SUMERLAND website.
For very good quality pictures and a review of the night, go to Ave Noctum.
The planned support band didn't play and was replaced by Jordan Reyne. I am so so glad, because I have discovered a wonderful artist whose world is very similar to my own...
And now a few "arty" shots of the main band...
All this has been very inspiring, especially as I am writing a Gothic Novel at the moment!
A quick update on what is happening with the books.
I am listening to PJ Harvey's Stories from the city, stories from the sea, which matches the work I am doing at the moment: updating the various pages of this very website, thinking about my forthcoming books - which all contain stories from the city and stories from the sea...
Today, I am reading through I Am a Muse to make sure it is ready for publication. Everything is now ready to be uploaded on Lulu, which I will be trying out on Sunday. I am so worried, I have butterflies in my stomach. This weekend was my deadline for uploading as I still would like to hit my November publishing date.
If everything goes well and all the files upload properly, I should be able to order a proof copy of my book immediately. So Lulu will need to send the copy to me, then I will need to read through it and check that the printing has gone well.
This should take another two weeks, if I am not interrupted by some freelance work - yes, it's money, but...
Or it could all go wrong on Sunday and I will be in a spot of bother.
*UPDATE 28/10/2012: I began reading through I Am a Muse on Friday. I couldn't help changing words, tweaking things... So this has now turned into a last minute revision of the manuscript, which is not cool as it will delay the publication further. I hope this will not take too long and I will be able to try out Lulu in the forthcoming days...
In other news, I have now purchased two domain names for my websites so the addresses look more professional. So you will find me at www.missgish.com - well, here - and also at www.arcanepublishing.net.
Business cards should get done in the forthcoming weeks.
I have been updating details about my next books as I have been to a lot of inspiring places and events and my brain has been overheating this week (see previous blogs!).
I have added the first writing piece for The Right Place HERE as well as some of the pictures taken during my holidays in Dorset earlier this month. I have used them as inspiration for that very piece.
I have added some details on the Anti page. Walking around London has given me quite a few more ideas for my Urban Noir tale...
I hope I will be able to go back to The Book of Thoth next week, but it looks like work is coming my way in the next few weeks. I will try and apply the "write everyday" rule nevertheless, let's see if I can do it. Usually, if I am working, my brain refuses to switch to "writing mode" and I can only write if I have a whole free day.
So there. I have done it! I have survived my first creative writing course. And to be perfectly honest, it will probably be the last. No course could be better than this one. This was pretty special.
Last week, I had to get into the habit of going off to work somewhere outside of my flat again – something that hasn't been happening for the past three years exactly – I left my last full-time position on 23rd October 2009! I also had to get used to being around a group of people day in and day out again. I have grown incredibly fond of my hermit life, alone in front of my laptop…
I am a loner by nature, and being around people – especially people I don’t know well – emotionally exhausts me… Interacting with other people makes me be on my guard all the time. The reasons for this are numerous and would take too long to explain. Let’s just say I am extremely weary of people in general. Going to exhibitions, the theatre and gigs doesn't really count, I guess, as one can still remain in one’s own little bubble, even though it gets reduced a great deal.
There was also the fact that I have never shown my work to anyone else. My work in music journalism was of an entirely different nature, and a lot of people read my articles and reviews, but that didn't bother me. I knew I was good at it and I was talking about other artists’ work, not mine. Fiction writing is completely different: you disclose your inner world to others, whatever comes out of your imagination is part of you and it can feel intimidating.
Metal’s Lab: On writing fiction wasn't full of pedantic self-aggrandising wannabe authors who, having paid good money to get a place on a course, feel entitled to behave like the customer they are; after all, “the customer is King”. They expect to be told how to become a famous author in 10 steps, just because they’re worth it – or at least they are worth something because they have paid.
All the people on last week’s course had been invited to attend after a rigorous selection process, and all 9 of us felt very thankful and privileged to have been picked.
One thing was immediately obvious: there was passion in there. We all had very different personalities, backgrounds and life experiences. But we also all had a passion for books, for the written word, for our writing. Chalkwell Hall was filled with energy the whole week; you could feel the subtle power of creative brains at work.
There was also a lot of talent. I was absolutely amazed at the quality of the work produced by the other participants and their knowledge of literature – and of a lot of other subjects too!
Nobody was dabbling; we were into serious writers’ territory, there.
It was a humbling, inspiring, energising experience.
The staff at Metal were absolutely wonderful: friendly and genuinely interested, they listened and observed without dictating.
A special thank has to go to Syd Moore, our “tutor” and “team leader” for the week, for her guidance, expertise and encouragement.
I love listening to other people and absorb information like a sponge, and therefore that’s what I have mainly done: I listened, and I learned a lot.
On Monday and Tuesday, we had special guest speakers, all seasoned authors in their own right.
I was particularly thrilled to be able to listen to Christopher Fowler, whose books I have been reading on and off since 1998, and whose fab blog I have been following for the past three years. He was absolutely fascinating, as was the mesmerising Cathi Unsworth – what a charismatic personality!
Julie Myerson was the most famous speaker of the three – her and her husband form one of London’s cultural power couples. I was very impressed by her self-confidence and her strong opinions on writing, even though as a person and a writer, I feel closer to Christopher Fowler’s and Cathi Unsworth’s world(s).
I actually spent one day and a half working on the top floor of Chalkwell Hall on my own work – what will become my third novel, The Right Place. When I started off, I vaguely knew in which direction I was going: my third novel would be set in Dorset, would be inspired by the landscape, the history and the very special, quasi surpernatural atmosphere of the county; I also wanted to use PJ Harvey’s song “The Wind” as inspiration, and I kept the printed lyrics in front of me while I viewed my holiday pictures of St Catherine’s chapel and Chesil Beach, two of the most important locations in my novel. And suddenly, it all started to pour out, all those ideas… A few hours after having set up on the table, my notebook was covered in Post-its and scribbles.
By the end of the day, I had written half a tempestuous scene which I then finished off the following morning. I genuinely surprised myself! I had so little when I had first arrived! It usually takes me a good six months to plan a novel, and I had done the equivalent of a month work in a day!
I am quite happy with that scene and will post it in The Right Place section of this website when I have done the small amendments that need doing.
On the Friday, when I finally stood up in front of the small, intimate audience to read an extract of the piece I had produced earlier in the week, I thought I was going to faint; I was so very nervous! I could swear small silvery stars momentarily danced in front of my eyes – for a whole second, and I forgot to breathe. It was a very different feeling to the one you have when standing in front of a class of 30 attention deficit disorder-riddled teenagers - I am an ex-teacher.
This was just so much bigger.
But I did it, and I think this first time was very very important. I believe I was the only participant who had never read to an audience before…
So now it’s a year to Metal’s Shorelines Festival – the literature festival of the sea – and we have all been invited to participate… I already have an idea about what I would like to do, but it is a whole year away and therefore I will not dwell on it…
I have gained a lot from this intense week, and I know that from now on, I will be approaching my writing in a slightly different manner. The instinct needs to be supported by more craft, and this is the recipe I will be using.
I have been thinking about revising my (hopefully) about to be self-published novel I Am a Muse before publication, but I am now running out of time.
I will be doing a quick read through this week but will leave it as it is: rather raw and incredibly imperfect, a naïve and probably not fully formed first novel.
I think therefore I write.
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