Saturday, 17 September 2011

Only Connect



Morning all - how are you? It will be back to normal at WKDN come October, and I've got a few ideas about some new directions beyond 'today's prompt' that will hopefully help with your writing. Let me know if there's anything you want to see more of, or any exercises you'd find useful. We're all 'back to school' here after the 74 (not that I was counting), day summer holiday, and I'm looking forward to getting down to some new writing. The characters for my new book, set in the South of France, are lining up and yammering away waiting to tell their story.

They have to be patient for September - if it's been quiet around here since the 'four for forty', that's because this is a big month workwise. I'm finishing up the MA, and the copy-edit of the next book has been all-consuming. How do you all find editing, and copy-editing? For me, it's a real challenge pulling apart a story and putting it back together again. I'm always in awe of people who like doing fiddly things - miniature painters, watchmakers, embroiderers - who has the patience for that? Even jigsaws defeat me. The way my mind works is forwards, big creative strokes - I'm not a natural go-back-overer or nitpicker and copyediting is like unpicking stitches in a tapestry. Once it's done the whole picture is a lot smoother, taughter, everything is in the right place but the process is hard.

The Spanish book was still giving me goosebumps on the umpteenth read through though, (which is, hopefully, a good thing). Today's video clip by the Foals has been on a loop for the last month - so much so that the children can now sing along on the school run, and ask me to 'turn up the good bit'. Hope you enjoy - it's a beautiful song, that was the soundtrack I listened to writing the key scenes of the book. This is the most ambitious thing I've written so far, and the most personal. I don't know if the goosebumps are excitement or fear at the thought of sticking my head above the parapet with this one ... we'll see what people think.

Sometimes I think writing a book is like glass-blowing - you start with something completely malleable (an idea), and shape it, and gradually it takes solid form (a book). Each stage, each edit is a little closer to that separation where what you've been working on becomes something solid, and real, and 'out there' in the world. It's no longer just yours, it belongs to everyone, and everyone is entitled to their opinion about it. That's been the single most amazing thing about seeing 'The Beauty Chorus' published - hearing from people how they've made the story their own. It's blown me away how people engage with the characters and the world you create. Equally, it's amazing how protective you feel about your characters when you get a snidey review. The best advice is not to take any notice of good or bad reviews and just get on with doing the best work you can. Not everyone is going to love your work, and you have to step back and just let it be. However, my tutor told us a wonderful story about how he managed to get the name of a particularly malicious critic worked into a new novel, so that he had the line 'H****, R***** is a c***t' immortalised. You can see the temptation sometimes.

TODAY'S PROMPT I'm finishing my MA thesis, and I want to ask your opinion. I'm writing about how the web and social media can enhance your enjoyment of a book. What I'm not writing about is how to market via Twitter. What I'd love to hear about are any writers, or sites that you think do a really good job of adding value to your experience of reading. What do you like? Author sites or blogs that tell you more about the person who wrote the books you love? Fan sites? Forums? Apps with bells and whistles that have animations leaping out of the text at you? If you have a moment, share your favourites in the comments box below with everyone. What do you love? Have you tried out book apps - what did you think? Have you used sites like Book Drum, or Authonomy? Give a shout out to people you think have done a really good job of enhancing your experience of fiction, and I'll take a look. Thanks x
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