Saturday 8 December 2007
Wednesday 5 December 2007
People commonly compare writing a book to giving birth. I never really understood the parallel, until now... After complications with my first pregnancy, I was told my second wouldn't be allowed to go beyond term. On my due date, I packed my overnight bag and dutifully went into hospital where the consultant decided everything was fine and we should let nature take its course. I picked up my bag and went home to wait.
Over the next two weeks, I received phone calls from almost everyone I knew:
"Hello, you're home!"
"What did you have?" and "How's the baby?"
"Er... I haven't had it yet... I'm still waiting."
Now that I've told everyone I know that my first book will be published in April, (as it appears on Amazon), my publisher has postponed publication until the summer. Apparently this happens all the time: delays with the designer, the editor, clashes with other publications, and goodness knows what else besides.
Coincidentally, the current publication date is... my second child's birthday!
Thursday 29 November 2007
Friday 23 November 2007
Thursday 15 November 2007
"I never want to see anyone, and I never want to go anywhere or do anything. I just want to write." (P.G.Wodehouse)
I'll return to my blog next week but for a few days I have to focus on Cut Short. There are revisions in the pipeline. The eagle-eyed among you may notice a change from the cover design here and the final cover on the book, behind which lies a story in itself.
In short, I've received THE dreaded letter from my editor, and I have to do some WORK on my MS. Enough of all this writing for fun, it's time to sort my MS out. I promise to blog all about it when I recover from my insane writing fest... if I recover. It's a ... sorry, no time to think of a word ... got to crack on or crack up (or both).
Wednesday 14 November 2007
Friday 9 November 2007
Thursday 8 November 2007
I write murder stories that seem to develop in one of two ways. I don't start at the beginning of a story and work chronologically (or any sort of logically) through to the end but begin by writing the exciting, dramatic scenes first. They're the most fun! Then I go back and fill in everything else, like plot and characters.
I may start writing with a murder scene. This raises questions. Who was the victim? Why was this person killed? Who was the killer? The story spins off from there.
Alternatively, I might begin with a discovery. A body is found. Who found it? Who was the victim? Why were they killed? Who was the killer? And I'm away.
It becomes a question of problem solving, like a kind of jigsaw to fit characters, motivation and opportunity together into a plausible story. I love the challenge of solving the difficulties this raises and am in the middle of one right now. A body has been found in an unlikely place. How did it get there? who is it? why? - I'm stumped for a plausible plot line, and having enormous fun trying to work out something good.
I love the idea that I need never ever be bored again, for the rest of my life, because there's always some problem to resolve.
So if you see someone with a faraway, slightly deranged look in their eyes, muttering to themselves, it could be me, working out how the body got there..... Best not say hello, it might be someone else who is demented, talking to themselves and gazing wildly round not seeing what's in front of them, lost in another world altogether.
I'd hate to have to do this to a deadline! Oh, and it beats doing crosswords. I was never any good at them anyway.
Wednesday 7 November 2007
Casting about for an idea, paradoxically gives me an idea, because I've been wondering l about this very subject lately: where do ideas come from? I mean the ideas that spark creative endeavour. Did Shakespeare have any problem, with his licence to use existing plots? We insist on originality in art. Encouraged by a tireless media assault to aspire to size zero figures, perfect teeth, etc. why should we yearn to be clones outwardly yet insist on originality in art? Is art the last refuge of the individual in our society?
I'll focus on characters. My publisher advised me to keep reading, for ideas, but I find my inspiration in life. No offence to the human race intended, but I can't sit long in any cafe, stand in a station, or walk along the street, before I realise that the peculiar characters I create as a writer, my odd little works of fiction, are no stranger than many real people. Life is bursting with possibilities.
Sometimes a character just pops into my head or develops on the page in front of me without intention on my part. I suppose I've had the idea unconsciously working iself out for a while, but it seems to just appear from nowhere, ready formed.
So my question this week is this: where do ideas come from? I wonder where other people find theirs .
Wednesday 31 October 2007
Cut Short will be available in the USA and Canada
Before I launch on today's topic, I'd like to thank all bloggers who contributed to the discussion arising from my last post.
This week's post is about my experience as a new writer.
My book is going to be published - how can I be reluctant for it to be seen? Until yesterday, the only two people who had read my work were my publisher and editor, apart from my accounts of dead bodies which I read to a retired doctor to check that my flights of fancy were plausible. Yesterday I went to a seminar offering tips to authors on how to give a reading, where we were invited to read a short extract of our work aloud. My reading is fluent and I have faith in my writing. Why did I feel so nervous in front of an audience whom I knew, rationally, to be sympathetic?
This led me to wonder: does everyone expect to be judged, or is it just me? Is it human nature, or do we live in a society that is becoming increasingly judgemental? Pupils at my school assume they're in trouble if a teacher wants to see them, staff summoned by the headmaster expect problems.
So my question is: have we developed a culture of complaint not appreciation? How often do we grumble when things fail to go our way? We resent having to queue, we grow impatient with slow service, we feel aggrieved when machines break down. We expect everything to work efficiently, and are angry when it doesn't. But are we happy when things work normally? Do we thank people when they do a satisfactory job? Or do we expect it? That's their job after all. I was once so happy with an IT technician for fixing some slight problem on my computer that I emailed him and and he told me that in twenty years of doing his job, I was the second person to thank him. That shocked me. I don't claim to be any better than other people - if I'm honest, I'm generally more impatient and curt than most. I just wonder whether, in a general way, the lack of support we show to strangers is changing our expectation of how they will treat us and we're spinning into a downward spiral of mutual distrust and social unease.
Or am I just feeling paranoid that no one will like my book?
Monday 29 October 2007
I'll try to start my Wednesday posts in earnest this week, about life, the universe and writing . Hopefully my experience will encourage other writers to try and find a publisher. You never know... the next submission could be the one that changes your life.
Friday 26 October 2007
I wrote another few pages as soon as I got home. My editor asked me to send hard copy which I duly took to the post office. The woman there said my letter 'might' arrive by Monday (three working days from the date of posting) but there was no guarantee. (This was first class post.) My only alternative was to spend an additional £4 or so to send it 'special' delivery which required a signature at the other end. So if my recipient was out at point of delivery, the letter wouldn't arrive and I would have spent £4 for nothing! I decided to risk the normal postal service. Did this woman realise she was talking herself out of a job, I wonder?
Monday 22 October 2007
I tried to copy the design here but, as with most of my forays into IT, I failed miserably. I can only invite you to visit my publisher's website, www.noexit.co.uk where you will find details of my book, Cut Short. Alternatively, a search for Cut Short Leigh Russell takes you there.
Sunday 21 October 2007
At the beginning of the year I started scribbling. It sounds trite to say my first book wrote itself, but a story unfolded as I wrote. Stephen King said writing a book is like conducting an archaeological dig. He chips away to discover a story. That's how it was. One episode led to another. I'll give you an example. I had to write an incident where a man is beaten up by two young lads who nick his brief case, just for a laugh. That led me to wonder: what was in the brief case? The question led to a whole new plot line which involved - well, I won't give too much away, but several people met untimely ends because of that question!! I became addicted, writing about 2,000 words every day, although at this point, I had no expectations of becoming a published author.... I was just having fun! I couldn't stop writing! Have you ever been so absorbed in a book, you can't put it down? It's like that.